Editor's note: Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style. The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly helps.
Help us choose the letter of the month for October 2013 by reading through the three nominated letters and voting on the ballot at the bottom of the web page.
Sensible tax funds reforms | Oct. 3, editorial
Taxes paid by consumers
In this editorial you state, "But this (excise tax on medical devices) is a sensible way to get a major player in the lucrative health care industry to help defray some of the costs of health care reform."
Apparently your editors do not understand who pays excise (and sales) taxes. These taxes are paid by the purchaser, not the manufacturer, therefore medical device manufacturers will not be paying this tax. The burden will fall on the users of medical devices, many of whom are poor and needy.
You should consider this fact when supporting increased excise and sales taxes.
Arthur Richard, St. Petersburg (Oct. 6)
Time to get government up, running | Oct. 8, commentary
Why wasn't harm foreseen?
I did a double take when I saw that Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., had authored an op-ed column headlined: "Time to get government up, running." Isn't this the same Ross, I wondered, who had helped to cause the shutdown of the federal government in the first place?
Ross seems to have realized only now that the shutdown would harm our local economy, impacting federal workers, farmers, university researchers, as well as cancer patients and kids in Head Start. What a shame he was unable to anticipate these consequences beforehand.
Perhaps all the time he spends voting "more than 40 times to repeal Obamacare" would be better spent educating himself about the needs of his district.
Elizabeth Strom, Tampa (Oct. 11)
Settlement in best interests of all | Oct. 22, commentary
Ronald Brisé, Florida Public Service Commission chairman, stated the Duke Energy settlement was in the best interests of all. I believe he is out of touch with reality.
Based on disclosures from Duke Energy, it clearly indicates that the consumer lost and Duke and shareholders won. With 1.7 million Florida customers sharing $3.2 billion in costs related to the failed nuclear projects, that results in a charge per customer of about $1,900. The customers have no avenue to ever regain these charges.
On the other hand, Duke investors are being charged only $1 billion for the failed projects. With 705.91 million outstanding shares, that results in a per share charge of $1.42, not much for a stock trading at $70 that has paid a dividend of $3 in the past 12 months. So the shareholders have regained their portion of the charge in less than six months, while the consumer never will.
To go one step further, if the shareholders had been charged with the whole $4.2 billion, the charge per share would have been $5.95 per share. That's less than two years of dividends.
It's time to elect representatives who work for the people who elected them, not special interest groups or themselves.
Wayne Eubank, Clearwater (Oct. 25)