Readers Write: (July 2): Edward Snowden, climate change, gift tax, cigarette taxes, protests

  • Updated: July 1, 2013 - 6:22 PM
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EDWARD SNOWDEN

Someone has to spill the secrets

The June 28 editorial “Don’t let Snowden set nation’s priorities” was a classic case of blaming the victim. It is true that the debate should be about constitutional issues and not about the cat-and-mouse pursuit of Snowden, but the editorial failed to say how such a profound debate could possibly take place without the facts about massive government surveillance of our communications being leaked to the world. Snowden is simply trying to preserve his freedom to continue revealing the information needed by the citizens of a functioning democracy.

The fault lies with distortion and selective reporting by the news media. A case in point is the bare whisper we have heard about the investigation of retired Gen. James Cartwright for leaking the story of a highly classified U.S. cyberattack on Iran, which rated two and a half inches on page A8 of the Star Tribune on June 28.

RHODA R. GILMAN, St. Paul

ENVIRONMENT

One consequence of ‘fee-and-dividend’

Brian Nowak (“Climate-change fight: The missing component,” June 28) presents a cogent argument for carbon fee-and-dividend legislation to effectively reduce our country’s greenhouse gas emissions. A consequence of such a program could be an increase in the costs of American goods. For this reason, a border tariff adjustment would be advisable, as part of this program to prevent non-carbon-fee countries from dumping goods in the United States (as happens now because of cheap foreign labor). This tariff would have the effect of protecting U.S. businesses while encouraging other governments to adopt their own carbon fees. Ultimately a fee-and-dividend program in the United States could lead to a global carbon pollution agreement based on free-market principles.

BRUCE D. SNYDER, Mendota Heights

GIFT TAX

Another way to drive Minnesotans away

The 2013 Omnibus Tax Bill signed into Minnesota law a new gift tax that went into effect Monday, in addition to the estate tax we already have. The gift tax applies to those who give more than $1 million in taxable gifts — assets valued at more than $14,000 and given to a single recipient — over the course of a lifetime.

The rationale behind the gift tax is that it will help put a stop to tax-avoidance behavior associated with the estate tax, raising an estimated additional $55 million a year in state revenue, without affecting the majority of people in the state. However, this is shortsighted.

While states like Tennessee and Indiana have recently repealed their estate and gift taxes after losing high-income residents to states like Florida and Texas, Minnesota joins Connecticut as the only states left with a gift tax. While the new tax may raise $55 million in revenue next year, in the long run it creates a new incentive for the affected families, and especially retirees, to flee to low tax states.

And not only will this negate revenue sought, it will negatively affect consumption and investment elsewhere in the economy, hurting overall economic growth and the economic climate for all Minnesotans. For the economy to grow, we must reward those who save and invest, not show them the door.

PAT TESTA, Minneapolis

CIGARETTE TAXES

Come for the health, stay for the funding

A new cigarette tax and a warehouse tax on cigarettes! Keep smoking, folks; the DFL has a spending habit, and it needs a fix!

GARY FISCHBACH, St. Paul

• • •

Two months ago, I had to quit smoking when I had surgery on my foot. It’s something I’d been wanting to do for years, but I’d always found excuses not to quit. Before I quit, I only smoked a few cigarettes a day, mostly in my car or when out with friends. I knew that every cigarette I smoked does damage, even if it was a couple a day, or a pack. I don’t want my family to have to take care of me in the future when I’m hit with an illness that I could have prevented today. It would be my own fault, and I can’t imagine putting my family through that because I was too stupid to quit. The new cigarette tax is even more reason for me not to smoke anymore — I can’t afford it. I quit for my family but will stay quit because of the price. I hope many more Minnesotans join me.

JENNIE ROBLES, New Hope

GLOBAL PROTESTS

Calls for accountability — just not in America

The June 30 Star Tribune quoted Iveta Cherneva, a Bulgarian protester and author, as saying in regard to the various world protests: “We are fighting for different reasons, but we all want our governments to finally work for us.” Our House of Representatives cannot pass a vital agriculture bill; although the Senate passes a well-thought out, comprehensive immigration bill, the House snubs it; neither chamber has the guts to address student loan interest rates, keeping millions of students and their parents on edge; the list could go on.

Unlike in other countries, there are no revolutions here. Unlike those in other countries, apparently we do not expect our government to finally work for us.

ROGER O. MATTSON, Bloomington

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