As a conservative, I am a strong believer in personal responsibility: You make the decisions; you take the consequences. Big government shouldn't be able to force you to buy health insurance. But if you make the decision to have no insurance, you need to take the consequence of having no health care unless you can pay for it out of pocket. Don't expect me (through my insurance premiums or my taxes) to pay for it for you.
The laws on the books (before Obamacare) force emergency rooms to treat people who come in whether they can afford it or not. This isn't freedom, or free-market capitalism; it is just government health care for freeloaders. As soon as the Supreme Court overturns Obamacare, I hope and expect that the true conservatives in Congress will pass a "No Care for Freeloaders" law -- if you don't have insurance and don't have a big wad of cash in your back pocket, you sit outside the hospital doors and stay sick, or die if that's what it comes to. At least you will die proud to have kept your liberty.
This just might have the same effect as the "individual mandate," since no rational person would decide not to get health insurance if they had to live or die with the consequences. If the court does strike down Obamacare, "No Care for Freeloaders" might just be our only path to universal and efficient health care.
MICHAEL SCHWARTZ, ST. LOUIS PARK
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I really don't care whether or not the Supreme Court overturns Obamacare; like millions of other Americans, I came to the conclusion years ago that health care in this country is simply broken, and I stopped going to the doctor. I figure I have saved possibly tens of thousands of dollars on wasteful medical bills and useless prescriptions for things like "restless leg syndrome."
Will I live a shorter life due to a lack of proper medical care? Almost certainly. Do our elected officials care that millions will suffer and die needlessly because of a lack of affordable, decent health care in this country? Almost certainly not. They are too busy seeking ideological purity and sticking it to the other party. They don't care about the people who will be financially destroyed by the first major illness to come along. Would Obamacare have solved this problem? No, but it was perhaps a step in the right direction -- at least Obama was trying to help. Will the destruction of Obamacare at the hands of an extremely conservative Supreme Court lead to lower health care costs for everyone? If you believe that, I have some tickets to sell you for Michele Bachmann's presidential inauguration.
DONALD VOGE, CRYSTAL
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I want to apologize to Brian Toren for any inconvenience and delay he experienced ("Questions about state taxes? Good luck getting answers," Letter of the Day, March 27). We at the Minnesota Department of Revenue hope that the sentiments reflected in his letter are not typical of taxpayers' experiences with the department. We take very seriously our responsibility to assist taxpayers in meeting their obligations in a secure, convenient, accurate and timely manner.
Especially at this time of year, when so many businesses and individuals are dutifully taking steps to responsibly meet their obligations, we want to assure all taxpayers that our dedicated staff is available to address questions from the public as fully and promptly as possible.
Our agency responds to nearly a million e-mails and phone calls annually, with millions more accessing our website for information. We are committed to improving our services and appreciate the feedback we receive from individuals.
I am happy to report that the department has been overhauling its website to address precisely the concerns that Mr. Toren cited. The new website, which debuts May 1, was tested by real users and will introduce streamlined instructions and simplified language. In addition, we are pursuing user-tested improvements to allow business and individual taxpayers to securely and conveniently access their own information. We hope that these and other system improvements will enable us to serve our taxpayer customers in the efficient, easy-to-understand manner they deserve.
To contact us, visit www.revenue.state.mn.us, call 651-296-3781 (metro) or 1-800-652-9094 or TTY 711 for Minnesota Relay, or e-mail the Individual Income Tax Division directly at email@example.com.
MYRON FRANS; COMMISSIONER, MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
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"The dangers of drones are coming to a country near you," by John Villasenor on the March 29 Opinion Exchange page, sounded like a similar argument to the gun-permit discussions. Villasenor has some of his facts nearly correct. However, most model airplanes flying today weigh less than 2 pounds and could not carry any payload. Very few models are over 5 pounds, and fewer still are equipped with cameras used in the guidance system. But any legitimate model over 50 pounds, flown for recreation by a modeler, is licensed by the "nationwide community-based organization" he refers to in his article. This is the Academy Of Model Aeronautics, an organization governing safe model-airplane operation for 75 years. If he is suggesting that terrorists will be lining up soon for their permits to fly drones with weapons on board, I think he will be surprised at the nonexistent lines.
DAVID E. LANGER, MINNEAPOLIS
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Just when you thought TCF Bank Stadium was dry and that the privileged among us were going to have to spend three hours on a Saturday afternoon without a drink, the state Senate has found a way to put booze in the bleachers. This issue has more lives than the fabled phoenix. If the Gopher football team was half as tenacious as its Beer Boosters, the Rose Bowl would be part of our regular schedule. But take heart, Minnesota Elitists; you can still drink while the masses dehydrate in the Arid Section at University of Minnesota basketball and hockey games.
EDDIE RYSHAVY, PLYMOUTH
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.