icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Doris writes a weekly column for LaGaceta, the nation's only trilingual newspaper, which has pages in English, Spanish, and Italian.  Begun in 1922 for Tampa's immigrant community, it continues to thrive more than a century later.  Her column is titled "In Context," as it aims to put contemporary issues in the context of the past.

"For lifestyle and taxes"

Maybe you read the article from the New York Times speculating on what Ivanka, Jared, and their buds are going to do when they exit Washington.  I was struck by one paragraph that quoted a guy who was described as "a short-lived Trump campaign adviser." He said, "I'm moving to Florida next year for taxes and lifestyle." 


I was appalled at his open expectation of a free ride at the expense of the rest of us.  Please, fellow longtime Floridians, let's put a stop to people whose motivation for coming here is because they don't want to pay their part of our common costs.


Just seven of the 50 states have no state income tax.  Moreover, every other former Confederate state has one.  Our problem now is not old-style racists; instead, it is exploitive Yankees.  Of course, since the 1890s when the Rockefellers and other robber barons built winter homes here, rich people have come to fashionable beach communities -- but it is new to see this Trumpster brashly say that he is doing so because he doesn't want to pay his fair share. 


Don't worry that newcomers will stop coming.  As the guy said, also it's for the lifestyle, which is unique and precious and easily destroyed by overcrowding.  A state income tax will help us deal with those problems, and it can be drafted so that it will not hurt our many minimum-wage workers nor the middle class; it could be, for example, only on incomes of more than $100,000.  Another model comes from a couple of states that innovatively do not tax earned income, but instead tax only profits from investments.  It would not be difficult to administer, as most states manage their income taxes with a simple surcharge on one's federal taxes. 


The Florida Constitution currently bans an income tax, so this would mean a statewide initiative to put the question on the ballot.  That means organizing immediately in 2021, as it takes time not only to collect the necessary signatures but also to get Supreme Court approval of the wording.  But we have amended the state Constitution for far less serious reasons -- remember pregnant pigs? 


Instead of budget cuts, we need to increase the revenue side of the ledger.  There is no hope that legislators will be brave enough to do this, but I hope that environmentalists, educators, health-care workers, and others will put an amendment on the next statewide ballot.  The millions of newcomers who flood our state, overcrowding our transportation systems and destroying our natural resources, should pay their fair share of solving the problems they create.  No one should move to Florida to get out of carrying his part of the mutual load.




Oakland, California always has been on the cutting edge of change, and this year, they did something I'd never thought about:  they lowered the right to vote for the school board to age 16.  I think that is a marvelous idea.  It not only gets teens into the habit of voting, it also gives them a voice in choosing the people who manage their daily lives.  Except for professional educators, no one knows school situations better than the students. 


And yes, election supervisors can handle this.  Lest you have forgotten, women had such partial voting rights for decades before the 19th Amendment assured full rights in 1920.  Prior to that, women in many states could vote in school board races or municipal races or presidential races or a combination of the above.  The only races that legislators made sure women didn't vote in were their own.  Women had separate ballot boxes at the polls, but as we move from in-person voting to voting by mail, a school-board only ballot could be sent to the eligible teenagers.  Or election supervisors could turn high schools into early voting sites.  It is doable, and a good idea.


Another good idea is Yuengling Brewery's plan to have a complimentary beer-tasting room in their new development just south of USF.  This been postponed because of COVID, but nonetheless created a local business buzz.  Apparently, however, the reporters and PR people are too young to know this is not new.  When the brewery was owned by Busch, they had The Brown Bottle in approximately the same place.  Long before that, local residents could go to Busch Gardens without an entrance fee.  The beer garden was in the German tradition of being family friendly, and Hubby and I hung out there with other members of the USF community.  Amid tropical birds and flowers, it was lovely.


But back to The Brown Bottle.  It wasn't so long ago that it offered free space and free beer to community groups.  I remember a League of Women Voters debate there when Republican Gus Bilirakis was elected to Congress, defeating Democrat Phyllis Busansky.  That was in 2006, and he replaced his father, Mike Bilirakis, who defeated Democrat George Sheldon in 1982 – on a platform that accused George of being a professional politician.  Now both George and Phyllis are dead, but the nearly 40-year-old Bilirakis dynasty lives on.  Not so innovative.




TMC recently ran a series of movies based on circuses, another thing that is very nearly gone.  That's partly due to animal rights' activists, but also because circus feats are not so amazing to kids accustomed to endless varieties of entertainment on screens.  The thing I noticed most in these movies, however, was the well-dressed audiences.  Men wore suits and ties; women wore hats and gloves.  Kids, too, dressed as if they were going to church, not to the circus.


Made in the 1940s and 1950s, the movies' recurrent theme was that the circus was going broke.  I don't know if screenwriters were predicting the future or not, but I regret that I never got up early enough on New Years' Day to see the elephants get off the train on 40th Street, link their trunks, and march up to the fairgrounds.  That might have been animal abuse, but like Busch Gardens beer-and-bird garden, it was a quiet local tradition that I suspect never will happen again. 


On the other hand, there is a tiny circus inhabiting space next to my Mango post office.  No animals, but some kiddy rides with lots of bright lights and major food.  It runs on weekends and is clearly designed to attract young Hispanic families.  The scene reminds me of my youth in Minnesota, when a carnival came to our little town of fewer than a thousand people.  I had a good time on the simple rides, and I think today's kids will, too.


Speaking of traditions and stability, Korean Air is amazing.  It's been twenty years since Hubby and I went to Korea in 2000, but I still get e-mails from them.  No American airline is similar, right?  It's the Asian assumption that the past is worthy, and longtime relationships are an important goal.  Not so much here, where many businesses seem to prefer name changes, bankruptcy, and other paperwork instead of focusing on the business they allegedly are in. 


It's especially disappointing with banks, which used to be the citadel of stability.   When you sign a contract for a mortgage, for instance, you are obliged to make your monthly payment – but the other signer, the bank, is not obliged to you.  They sell your contract to others who then resell, and over a lifetime of home ownership, you are expected to deal with dozens of institutions other than the one with whom you signed the contract.  Another thing that someone should do something about.



Make a comment to the author