Politicians casually throw out the term "middle class" as if we all understand what being in the "middle class" means. The "middle class" consists of black people, white people and all the skin shades in between.
It consists of doctors, tradesmen, employers, employees, the self-employed, renters, homeowners, professionals, craftsmen, retired people, young people, men, women, Republicans, Democrats, extremists and millions of people each with their own particular circumstances.
The middle class isn't some monolithic voting bloc with universally common interests. So when a politician proposes a bill to benefit the middle class, how can he or she possibly be acting in the interests of all those disparate categories? It's not possible.
When society finally comes to understand that the "middle class" as such does not exist, we will have come a long way toward understanding that government should be looking at its citizens as individuals, not voting blocs.
BOB HAGEMAN, CHASKA
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A recent letter to the editor cited the need for voter ID to have an "honest and fair" election. I still don't believe that. But if the recall election in Wisconsin shows anything, in order to have honest and fair elections, corporate and PAC money must be kept away from the campaigns. Gov. Scott Walker outspent his opponent seven to one, and most of Walker's campaign money came from outside Wisconsin, including funds from a Virginia-based group called Coalition For American Values. The addresses given for the group trace back to UPS stores, and its website doesn't list who is behind the group. Now is this fair or honest? I say that only local money should be used in local elections, and that there should be full disclosure of donors.
ANDREW DVORAK, MINNETONKA
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Americans may not want government telling them what to eat and drink, but they sure believe that the government ought to provide them with health care and services when they literally eat and drink themselves into life-altering, slowly degenerating diseases like diabetes ("Contrasupersize me," June 6). Obesity costs this country as much as $147 billion annually, and more than $300 billion in lost productivity costs, according to a new report. Half of that is paid for through Medicare and Medicaid. Seventy percent of diseases are preventable by healthy eating and exercise. So how about this, America: Keep government out of your life, completely. Eat all the fatty foods you want, drink sugary sodas until you can't walk any longer (it's your right), and then when you're sick, take responsibility for your own actions and pay for your own health care. Why should government be involved in your personal life?
JANET BATES, EAGAN
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Given his recommendations to teach students how to "respect an opponent" in a debate and to require adults and kids to "be kind and caring to each other," I couldn't help but be disappointed by Michael Kennedy's decidedly one-sided and derisive tone in his commentary ("Lessons I've learned from four decades at the head of a class," June 5). He wrote that curriculum specialists are part of his "dark side" and "lots of ego and little substance." He also says that anyone with a doctorate is "completely out of the loop." This doesn't sound kind and caring to me. Kennedy says that eliminating classes larger than 25 students is a no-brainer. While no one would want a kindergarten class with 32 students, I would argue that if you can't effectively teach an AP calculus class of that size, you're not much of a math teacher.
SEAN FOLEY, RICHFIELD
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Puh-lease quit all the (bad) punning in your headlines! The pain is unbearable. Examples from the June 6 newspaper:
•"Coming to a head" -- for an article about NFL concussions.
•"Teach a kid to fish? It's catching" -- for a Dennis Anderson column.
•"A man for all seasons" -- about a landscape designer. (It sounds like a play review.)
•"Smoking out vintage finds" -- on an antique cigar cutter.
•"A history lesson to chew on" -- about the Minnesota History Center's tours of St. Paul restaurants.
•"Walking the walk on recycling" -- about a couple in Lino Lakes who walk and pick up items for recycling.
•"Clearing the air at smelly compost facility" -- about Northern Organic Technologies.
•"Were classic boat auction bids all wet?" -- about a lawsuit over an auction that "... is still making waves."
•Lastly, and perhaps the most egregious example of a bad pun used in poor taste: "Eye for the game" -- about a golfer blind in one eye. No excuse.
How about one more, this time from a reader: "Puns kick the Strib in the can" -- or a story about how the editors at the Star Tribune tighten controls on the use of puns in headlines. Now, that's a great headline!
JIM DRENNEN, LINO LAKES
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It has been 10 years since the Bush tax cuts were enacted. Job creators, where are your 10 years worth of jobs promised? We are waiting.
MARY DOSAN, EVELETH, MINN.
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One simple change would make downtown Minneapolis much safer: Turn up the lights! Downtown at night is semidark.
ALLAN R. NEGSTAD, MINNEAPOLIS
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.