I'm a little confused about the "moral values" of Governor Pawlenty and President GW Bush. They claim to be Christians, while supporting the right of citizens and corporations to have reduced taxes. As a result, funding for education and health care (including mental health), as well as other public programs have been cut again and again. Yet, in the New Testament, Jesus and the Apostles share with their followers and each other, and Jesus exhorts the rich to give their possessions to the poor.
In the Brainerd Dispatch recently there were letters to the editor praising a recent House bill that raises funding for education (depending on gambling proceeds). But if you read the fine print in the news article, this increase is at the expense of further cuts in health care. How can children benefit from an education if they lack nutritious food, health care and consistent shelter?
I say that it is the responsibility of those who have more, to give more to maintain the common good. And I include myself.
Race can be used to identify people
Why are so many shocked or dismayed at anyone using race as an identifying feature while describing two robbery suspects? Do these complainers know what the word description means? A detailed account. Imagine if we all got so politically correct that we couldn't say anything to identify people for the fear of offending someone. How would policemen get their assignments for the day? "Someone was abducted by two people in a vehicle. Someone wandered away from their home and can'' be located. Someone hit someone else over the head and robbed them. Someone attacked someone else in an alley. Now go out and find these people."
If I ever go missing, I want everyone out there looking for me to look for a 60ish caucasian woman, 5'7", shoulder-length light blonde hair, slightly overweight (okay, we don't have to get too specific).
Unchecked development must stop
We live on Clearwater Lake, in Bay Lake Township, Crow Wing County, on property owned by our family for 68 years. In all that time our family has endeavored to be good stewards to our land, our lake and our neighbors. We are very sad to report that Planned Unit Development (PUD) laws as currently written in Crow Wing County have allowed a developer to propose a 14-unit development on our lake which is totally out of place in it's agricultural setting and totally inappropriate to the environment it will be placed in. It simply doesn't belong here, but the ordinances as written favor developers and "allow" it to be built, regardless of the appropriateness of the individual proposal. If this development were proposed on the outskirts of a town, say, Deerwood, it would make sense and be in keeping with the original intent of cluster developments ordinances. But it isn't. Instead, it's a "wall" of 14 structures crammed onto 3 acres of buildable land in the middle of a totally agriculturally zoned landscape. Does anyone remember the song "Little Boxes" written by Malvina Reynolds in 1962? Google it ... the words are as appropriate now as they were decades ago when it was written. It is time for the citizens of Crow Wing County to get involved and speak out about this. It is very late for us now, but sad examples like ours can and must be learning experiences for the future. Tell your county commissioners that unchecked development in search of the almighty dollar must stop now, and if they don't agree with you, vote them out.
Northwest jobs were lucrative ones
In a recent letter to Open Forum a Merrifield writer expressed his views on the business practice of Northwest Airlines. I can't argue with someone's opinion on outsourcing of jobs to Singapore, or a former NWA exec running for governor of California. We all have opinions, and thank goodness we do.
What I can find fault in is the total lack of facts regarding the jobs associated with the bail-out in the early 90s. I don't have exact numbers of employees in Duluth and Hibbing, but it is safe to say they are significant. The writer says they are low-tech, low-paying jobs. Wrong. In Duluth there is a maintenance base serving Airbus A-319 and A-320 aircraft. Those jobs pay upwards of $60,000 a year. In Hibbing there is a reservation center where a senior agent makes over $40,000 thousand a year, and starting pay is over $20,000 a year. Those jobs also have full insurance, retirement and worldwide travel privilege. Not exactly sweatshop wages.
Ruud criticized for military vote
It is very disappointing to find that state Sen. Ruud has voted against military families and rural economic development this year. In a revenue-neutral tax bill that gained strong support from Democrats and Republicans alike, Sen. Rudd voted no to federal Military Family Relief Act tax conformity and the angel investment credit for rural business creation.
If the change recommended by Gov. Pawlenty fails to become law, Minnesota military families will lose more than $1 million state tax benefits due them.
Other key aspects of the bill would have benefited rural communities and the state as a whole. For instance, fixing the Minnesota Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) would have given more than 40,000 tax filers an average tax reduction of $550 per return and would have taken dependents and charitable deductions into account. In addition, the discriminatory retail sales tax policy that easily could put many local butcher shops around the state out of business is fixed permanently in the bill our senator opposed.
Most of all, though, this vote against military families saddens me. Military families make tremendous sacrifices in their service to our state and country. Sen. Rudd has turned her back on them by voting against the benefits they deserve.
Tax hikes can help Social Security
The debate over Social Security affects all Americans and it is crucial that an informed citizenry hold Congress and the White House accountable. As difficult as it is to summarize the myriad of facts, keep these points in mind:
According to the Social Security trustees report, the program can pay all benefits through the year 2042, with no changes whatsoever. Even after 2042 when there will be a small shortfall, the program would always be able to pay retirees a higher benefit (in today's dollars) than what current retirees receive.
Furthermore, private accounts often waste much on administrative costs. On average, less than 0.6 cents of every dollar paid out in benefits is needed to pay administrative costs. By comparison, systems with individual accounts, like the ones in England or Chili, waste 15 cents of every dollar paid on administrative fees. President Bush's own estimates say that 5 cents of every dollar would go to pay administrative costs under his proposed system.
Lastly, keep in mind that the projected shortfall is no larger than what we have seen in past decades. Social Security taxes have historically increased because people live longer. The tax increase that would be needed to make the program fully funded over its 75 year planning period is actually smaller than tax increases we have seen in prior decades. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office estimates, Social Security can be made solvent throughout its 75 year planning period with a tax increase that is less than one quarter as large as the one in the eighties.
Tax increases would be a small investment to make in order to guarantee the solvency of one of the most successful federal programs. It is a safe and simple solution, unlike the president's risky private accounts.
Charles T. Besnet
Who wants to go to war?
Recent news reports indicate the Army and Marines are having difficulty meeting recruitment goals. This is somewhat bewildering considering that within the ranks of the millions who voted for George W. Bush must be many hundreds of thousands of folks of fighting age, who, at least by their very votes, indicated approval of the Iraq invasion. Real patriots should be swamping the recruiting offices. Did you vote for the war but want no part of it? As Wimpy used to say in the old Popeye cartoon, "Let's you and him fight." Yet this society is becoming ever more militaristic and enamored of military power and seemingly agreeable to the enormous cost involved. When will people look up from "Desperate Housewives," "American Idol" and the rest of the garbage on television and start paying attention to the barbarity and carnage that's being carried on in their name and with their tax dollars?
When will the people say "enough?" Don't hold your breath. An internet blogger stated recently, "the only way to change the minds of flag-waving patriots would be the maiming or death of their own children in Bush's insane foreign adventures."
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