Readers Write: (Aug. 29 ): Syria, police, eminent domain, equal pay

  • Updated: August 28, 2013 - 10:22 PM
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SYRIA

We are not obligated to a military response

Well, here we go again. The United States is about to attack and possibly invade another predominantly Muslim country that has not attacked us.

Under the guise of outrage over a presumed attack with chemical weapons on a civilian population, we will be violating international law and, rest assured, more Syrian civilians will die as a result of our actions than died from poison gas.

People need to understand that the United States routinely uses weapons systems that kill large numbers of civilians and are condemned by other countries; these weapons include white phosphorus, cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions.

I also wonder where the voices are who have been scolding us incessantly that the country has no money for roads or bridges or education or health care? There is always money for war, though, isn’t there?

Stephen Kriz, Maple Grove

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Studying for the priesthood at the Gregorian University in Rome, we learned the following moral maxim: Nemo ad inutile tenetur. Freely translated, that means: No one has a moral obligation to undertake a useless course of action.

If our goal is a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Syria, a limited military strike is useless. It will do nothing to deter further use of poison gas. If it weakens the Assad regime, it will strengthen Al-Qaida affiliates and Islamists in the opposition. If it fails to significantly harm the regime, the United States will look like a paper tiger.

This doesn’t mean we do nothing. To achieve a negotiated settlement, we have to resolve our conflicts with Russia over issues like the European missile defense system. Who is more important — American military contractors or the people of Syria?

William C. Hunt, Somerset, Wis.

• • •

MINNEAPOLIS POLICE

A Civilian Review task force minority report

The dysfunction of the Minneapolis Police Department and the Civilian Review Authority continue to make headlines.

During his first term, I served on the Mayor R.T. Rybak’s task force to redesign the CRA. Frustrated with the process, I and three other task force members submitted a minority report. Ultimately, both the majority report and our minority report were ignored by the City Council.

Our recommendation was for the CRA to investigate complaints and troubling incidents but not to even attempt to recommend discipline of the officers involved. All of us who signed were aware of the serious problems, but we made this surprising recommendation for three reasons:

1)  Discipline recommendations require investigation of the incident, but even with subpoena power, it is impossible for any CRA to get department cooperation necessary for a thorough investigation.

2)  As public employees, cops are entitled to the protection of civil-service regulations, which also make CRA-driven discipline impossible.

3)  And most important: It never works — not in Minneapolis, and our research at the time suggested not anywhere else, either.

Our report was not the same as throwing in the towel. I continue to believe that a redesigned CRA can contribute to a solution by recommending changes to department policy and procedure based on the study of troubling incidents.

John K. Trepp, Minneapolis

• • •

EMINENT DOMAIN

It isn’t right, no matter how you slice it

The Aug. 23 article “Eminent domain in decline” suggested that 2006 legislation reforming Minnesota’s eminent-domain laws was a bad thing because it is now impossible for private companies, like Best Buy, to persuade cities to use the practice to take land as Richfield did for the company’s headquarters in 2000.

But the article failed to address why it is proper for the government to take one person’s private property and give it to another private entity in the first place.

Not only do such takings destroy property rights and undermine the basis for real economic growth, but often developers abandon the taken property. This was the case in New London, Conn., where a historic neighborhood was torn down so a private developer could build a suburban complex for Pfizer, as well as in New Brighton, Minn., where the Northwest Quadrant has not realized the promises of city planners and private developers.

And while corporations are the beneficiaries, use of eminent domain for private-to-private transfers disproportionately affects poor, minority and other politically powerless populations.

By enacting the 2006 reform, which forbids private-to-private transfers, Minnesota legislators voted against using public power for private gain.

Katelynn McBride, Minneapolis

 

The writer is an attorney for the Institute for Justice.

• • •

EQUAL PAY

A worthy goal, but the statistics are off

The statistic that women on average earn 77 or 78 percent as much as men (Readers Write, Aug. 28) is often quoted and, generally, misquoted. It does not take into account part-time vs. full-time employees. Also, the study that produced this number did not compare education, experience, longevity with the employer. It was a simple mathematical average.

In my 35-year business career, most part-time employees were women — if I had to guess, well more than 80 percent. And, 100 percent of the employees taking time off to give birth were women, though we probably can no longer acknowledge that as a fact.

Factor in these two items, then add in experience, education and time on the job, and the pay difference collapses substantially.

I have no argument against equal pay, but I do have a problem with the misuse of the statistic. I would like to see a more honest comparison. I would also like to see what the differential is if you dropped out CEO compensation.

DOUG PFEIFER, Minnetonka

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