Lessons to learn
I am writing in response to “Report on cruise ship port off Pinellas dredges up concerns” by Josh Boatwright in the July 20 issue of the Tribune. For the past eight years, my colleagues and I at the University of South Florida have been studying the environmental, economic, and social transitions from pocket tourism (what we have today) to mass tourism (what is being considered for our future) throughout the Caribbean. We have observed three major challenges. First, damage to ecosystems and the services they provide can be nearly irreversible, in some instances taking thousands of years to rebound. Second, small businesses suffer from competition with multinational corporations that can better absorb the boom-and-bust cycles accompanying seasonal flows of tourists. Third, since most jobs created by cruise tourism are low-wage service positions, families employed in this sector sometimes turn to crime, drugs and prostitution as they struggle to make ends meet.
It doesn’t have to be this way for the Tampa Bay area. We can learn from the experiences of our neighbors to the south about what works and what doesn’t.
For example, in Belize we are evaluating how communities can soften the blow to ecosystems by making use of new technologies that recover clean water, nutrients for fertilizer and even energy from sewage.
In Roatan, we are studying how small businesses and other stakeholders can organize to have a stronger voice in development planning.
In the Virgin Islands, we are examining ways that tourism workers can improve their livelihoods by leveraging their expertise to tap into alternative economies.
Any future considerations of cruise ship tourism in Tampa Bay should take a close look at communities that are going through this process already. There are many important lessons to learn. Now is not the time for navel gazing.
It’s a ruse
In your Letter of the Day July 20 (“Stop the best government money can buy,” Views), Abe Levy supposes that judicial review of a constitutional amendment limiting both corporate and union money in politics would actually remain adjudicated as written. I can show him a proscribed prohibition against the establishment of an official state religion turned on its head to satisfy the liberal imperative to drive people of faith from the public square as an example. First, union money is forcibly taken from the rank and file to promote a leftist agenda while corporate dollars represent the political expression of the ownership and a majority of the stockholders. Second, any such law like past immigration laws guaranteed to provide border security in exchange for expansive amnesty will never slow the union money. It is a ruse. That the permanent government is a unionized pro-Democrat, Lerneresque fiefdom also escapes fair play. Only a fool would fall for a law promising to equalize political philosophy throughout civil service rather than just ending government unions.
End tax season for good
In response to “Repeal the federal income tax” (Views, July 20), I couldn’t agree more. As of 2013 the federal tax code was a whopping 73,954 pages of convoluted, enigmatic gibberish that is so confusing to the IRS, the folks who are supposed to be on top of U.S. tax law, that not even they can decipher it with much more accuracy than the average citizen. Billions of dollars are spent annually by businesses and individuals who hire tax preparers to keep them in compliance with the law. If that isn’t bad enough, if a legal deduction is missed by a not-so-sharp tax preparer, some money will be left with the government.
Complying with tax law is like haggling over the price of a new car: Some folks pay more, and some pay less depending on the skill level of the buyer. It shouldn’t be that way. I am a fan of the Fair Tax or a flat tax. It would greatly reduce the intrusion of the IRS in our lives. Taxes would be included in the price of the products we buy, and tax season would be a thing of the past.
The Unites States broke away from the British because of government intrusion and oppressive taxes. It took us a little over 200 years to get ourselves right back in the same situation again, but this time we’re doing it to ourselves. It’s time to change our system of taxation to keep up with the times.
Remove Common Core
I am the mother of three children in Hillsborough County schools. I am aware the Legislature has renamed Common Core “Florida Standards.” They are the same standards. In your school board endorsements, the Tribune never mentioned the No. 1 concern on most parents’ minds — which is removing Common Core from Florida as so many other states have done.
Mollie D. Powell
Someone to emulate
Congratulations to Jeff Vinik of the Lightning for his new acquisition. For Mayor Bob Buckhorn and others who have been lobbying for a baseball stadium in Channelside in an attempt to steal the Rays from St. Petersburg, your master plan is over. Why would Vinik build a baseball stadium in Channelside to promote a competitor? Vinik does things the right way. He cares about the community, and he conducts himself with integrity. Buckhorn and other politicians in Tampa would be wise to emulate Vinik.