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I am a conservative and favor less state and federal government. However, government is needed for certain purposes in our society. That includes a rational approach to ensuring health care for everyone. (Everyone will need it at some point.) Those with means should be required to have health insurance and pay a tax or fee or whatever you want to call it if they don't buy it.
As a humane society, we will not refuse critical health care services for anyone in need, so those with means should not be able to forgo health insurance and then be able to receive medical care at no cost. The rest of us are currently subsidizing these people in the form of higher premiums.
Let's get past the nonsense rhetoric of linking the federal government's taxing people who will not buy insurance with the view that this will for sure result in more government "mandates" -- for not buying a cellphone, or broccoli, as some have said.
Let's decide if mandating health insurance for those with means is a states' right or federal matter, then implement a straightforward payroll tax to collect money from those who will not buy health insurance. Collecting the fees should be the only role of government beyond funding services for those below the poverty level.
Health care and health care insurance must be privately provided so that market forces will force productivity gains and lower the costs for all consumers. Expanding the Medicare model will fail.
JOHN SWEENEY, PLYMOUTH
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Absent from the fallout surrounding the Trayvon Martin case is the acknowledgement that George Zimmerman was way over his head the moment he left his home to patrol the neighborhood. Armed with good intentions and a loaded pistol, Zimmerman was apparently trying to deliver a costly government service, free of charge. As a private citizen he lacked the skills, training and education to properly perform the police function. And he lacked the authority, too -- which is funded by taxpayers and granted selectively by the state, for lots of good reasons.
JOHN N. ROUNER, ST. LOUIS PARK
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Tim Turner wrote an interesting commentary ("This, too, is the word of the Lord," March 31). Another way to look at marriage is that there is a lot of support for man/woman marriage in the Bible while there is no support for gay marriage there. On the subject of divorce, the Bible allows divorce for marital unfaithfulness (Matthew 19: 8-9); 1 Corinthians 7:15 suggests that if an unbeliever leaves, the believer partner is no longer bound. The Catholic Church has a complex annulment process to dissolve a marriage and allow remarriage. Perhaps modern society can promote the civil-union concept with marriage-type rights and responsibilities, but the Bible should not be used to support the concept of gay marriage.
MICHAEL TILLEMANS, MINNEAPOLIS
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The current concern with bullying perhaps overlooks a dark side of Darwinian evolution -- that nature, in fact, kills off the strange, deformed and not "normal." Mother animals, or the pack, will regularly do in those perceived as lacking or weakest -- the "runt of the litter" -- as part of survival of the fittest and evolution of the species.
The urge to harm, shun and do in the "not normal" may well be bred into our sons and daughters.
Whereas the place of faith, and the call of a higher heart, might well be the built-in corrective in the human psyche/soul to ameliorate this dark side of the strictly biological.
Just a thought.
LEONARD FREEMAN, LONG LAKE
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The March 30 editorial ("Politics is driving U.S. gas price angst") was critical of efforts by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and me to place limits on oil speculation. I respectfully take issue. While the editorial rightly points out that the oil market is global, there is little dispute that American commodities exchanges play an outsized role in setting its price.
Further, numerous experts and analysts believe that the considerable presence of speculators in the oil futures market has distorted the market and driven up the price of petroleum. A recent report by Forbes magazine, which used data compiled by Goldman Sachs, concluded that oil speculation adds 56 cents to the cost of every gallon of gas.
And just a few days ago, a top official with the government agency that helps regulate commodities wrote a letter published in this very newspaper, saying that "speculation has caused unfair prices" and that consumers "are paying an extra Wall Street 'speculative premium' every time they fill their tank."
This is unfair not only to Minnesota drivers, but to all consumers who are paying more for goods produced and transported with inflated oil and gasoline. Sen. Klobuchar and I can have little effect on tensions in the Middle East and oil demand from emerging economies. But we can do our part to make sure that Minnesotans aren't paying more for gasoline just so speculators and the big oil companies can reap even bigger profits at our constituents' expense.
U.S. SEN. AL FRANKEN, D-Minn.
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The Republican Legislature is proposing to eliminate property taxes on business to promote job growth. What will business owners due with the extra money? Put it in their pocket.
How do I know? I own a small business, and that's what I would do.
If the Republicans knew anything about business, they would understand that there is no relationship between property taxes and job growth.
LOWELL WENZEL, BLOOMINGTON