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Readers Write (Aug. 29): Amendment rulings, privitization, chamber orchestra, Iran

  • August 28, 2012 - 7:42 PM

COURT RULINGS

The dissenters had the better judgment

 

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruling makes as much nonsense as Citizens United ("Legislature wins amendment cases," Aug. 28). In failing to scrutinize the motives, language and intent of the voter ID amendment, the majority failed its constitutional duty. As dissenting Justice Paul Anderson wrote, "While acknowledging our court's constitutional right of review, the majority nevertheless grants so much deference to the Legislature that the current Legislature is granted power well beyond that provided for in the Constitution."

Furthermore, as dissenting Justice Alan Page notes, "the Legislature has resorted to a ballot question that deliberately deceives and misleads the very voters it claims must be protected. I cannot explain, nor can I understand, the court's willingness to be complicit with the Legislature in this effort." Anderson agrees: "The people will not have before them the text of the proposed constitutional amendment. That text contains the critical information the Constitution requires for the people to validly give their consent; something the Legislature's ballot question does not contain."

Should this amendment pass, Minnesota will have a voter ID measure second only to Mississippi in its restrictiveness. This is not something the state should be proud of. The aberration of "fraud" does not justify this approach. Vote no!

MARK DAVIS, Minneapolis

• • •

The marriage amendment ballot title, "Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman," is legitimate only if it is also acceptable for the presidential ballot item to read as follows: "Barack Obama shall be president of the United States (Yes or No)."

FAYTHE DYRUD THUREEN,

Minneapolis

• • •

A U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the proposed visual-image warnings for cigarette packs violate the free speech rights of tobacco companies ("Court blocks visual warnings on cigarettes," Aug. 25). On what basis? It's supposedly because the warnings are more emotional than informational.

In the meanwhile, emotionally appealing ads and ones that present no information continue to proliferate for other products, basically without restriction. In voting against the warnings, one judge also made the inane observation that the FDA "failed to present any data" that the packaging requirements would work. Of course the FDA can't present any data. She won't let it start the program in the first place, so that it can generate related statistics.

Here's data: 440,000 people in this country alone die annually from the effect of tobacco smoke. And I wonder if it bothers the judge that we all pay for it, whether we smoke or not.

JIM BARTOS, Brooklyn Park

* * *

PRIVATIZATION

Is it the better way? Are you certain?

 

We keep hearing about the wonders of privatizing to create a competitive environment for government services such as Medicare, but as someone turning 65 this month, my experience with private health insurance and pensions paints a grim picture if that becomes our future.

I just got off the phone with a major insurance company, which transferred me five times and required two conference calls to solve a problem by telling me to ignore it.

This is about the 10th such conversation I have had with insurance and pension companies in the past few months. Their employees have been absurdly untrained and inefficient, and some of my conversations have taken nearly an hour to complete.

Social Security, on the other hand, involved an online signup, and when I did have to call one time, I was offered the option of leaving a phone number and receiving a call back rather than holding. I reluctantly left my number, thinking it would go into some black hole. But the return call came in about two minutes, and the problem was solved politely in less than a minute.

We need to look past simplistic solutions like "competition" and "private enterprise." Private industry is profit-driven, which usually means reducing service.

SUSAN GOLL, Minnetonka

* * *

CHAMBER ORCHESTRA

A Twin Cities treasure -- not just a business

 

I live in Minneapolis and regularly attend St. Paul Chamber Orchestra concerts. As a child studying classical music in Boston, I admired the SPCO. Forty years later, I still regard this orchestra as one of the finest. What an enormous source of Twin Cities pride -- such talent right here in St. Paul.

It seems contract negotiations are damaging the orchestra's reputation, and may cripple its future. The management position reflects pay cuts to musicians of more than 50 percent.

You cannot outsource the arts. An orchestra is a unique environment relying not only on talent, but on years of experience, balance, chemistry, passion and commitment, uniting individuals to play as one. I pay to see this seasoned SPCO in concert, not a random group playing for temp pay.

I am a musician, and have worked professionally in arts management. I understand the challenges of supporting, promoting and sustaining artists. That said, I urge the orchestra's management not to put business priorities above all. Implementing corporate negotiating priorities, tactics and outsourcing models will kill the very soul of what the organization is attempting to provide.

MEGAN SMITH, Minneapolis

* * *

THE MIDEAST

Chest-thumping is not exclusive to Iran

 

Frida Ghitis' diatribe against Iran seems to be a case of the pot calling the kettle black ("Iran speaking loud and clear," Aug. 28). Ghitis faults Iranian leaders for their harsh rhetoric against Israel while engaging in equally harsh rhetoric herself against Iran.

She's not alone. In a public sermon on Sunday, influential Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in Israel said: "[When] we ask God to 'bring an end to our enemies', we should be thinking about Iran, those evil ones who threaten Israel. May the Lord destroy them."

The truth is that Iranian, Israeli and U.S. politicians and commentators have been indulging in vituperative insults for decades. This does nothing but inflame tensions, frustrating diplomacy and reasoned negotiations about our differences.

WILLIAM O. BEEMAN, MINNEAPOLIS

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