It doesn’t seem to matter where we live: We see homes being broken into, or banks and stores being robbed. We think those are big crooks. But now it’s in our back yards. The TV reported thefts of plants, pots of flowers and landscaping lights. This is happening all over. A woman in the city of Mora, Minn., had a beautiful garden arrangement in her front yard, and someone stole three flower pots. In McGregor, someone stole geranium plants from a cemetery flower box. Memorial landscaping lights are stolen from cemeteries. We hear about the looting of stores, thefts of bikes, and of people leaving something at their spot on the beach to go for a swim and finding it gone when they return.

The thought seems to be: “If it’s there, it’s mine.” Are we not teaching “do not steal” anymore?

Carole Holten, McGregor, Minn.


Israel and Somalia: Simply no comparison

Ahmed Tharwat (“Traveling warriors, treated inconsistently,” Aug. 13) reaches an all-time low in false moral equivalence and deception with his outrageously offensive opinion piece about “Jewish jihadists.” To suggest that Jewish Americans who enlist to defend Israel from Islamic terrorists pose a similar security concern to our country as do Muslim Americans who go to Somalia to fight alongside Islamic terrorists is rubbish. The former are lending their aid to a staunch ally of the West, while the latter are lending theirs to a sworn enemy. Can Tharwat really not distinguish between the two?

Brad Johnson, St. Paul

• • •

It is quite unlikely that those who have chosen to help Israel will return to American soil and carry out suicide missions as well as other terrorist acts. Can Tharwat assure us that Somalis or other American jihadists helping out ISIL can be trusted on their return to American soil?

Arthur Horowitz, Hopkins



Recall that costs also produce benefits

Of course one-third or more of what we pay for consists of embedded taxes. That amount and more of what we receive in goods and services does come from government. On Aug. 13, a one-sided letter writer listed as many taxes as he could think of to make it seem we’re being ripped off.

He didn’t bother to list any of the necessarily expensive benefits government provides. Let’s start with roads, highways, bridges, defense, police, fire protection, education, libraries, Social Security, veterans benefits, public health, unemployment insurance, retirement funds, help for the disadvantaged, legal and judicial processes, and the administration of all the above. (Keep in mind that much of what we pay for as consumers of goods and services from business goes to administrative expenses, including time provided by lawyers, accountants and overly compensated CEOs.)

Speaking of waste, I’m surprised the letter writer didn’t complain about it. How about the waste taxpayers generate themselves? We just completed an extremely valuable and vastly underappreciated governmental process — the primary election. In the precinct where I worked as an election judge, 190 voters participated, a little more than 10 percent of registered voters — and that doesn’t consider eligible voters who don’t even bother to register. Judges worked a total of about 120 hours at our location. The minimal pay we will receive totals about $1,100. That’s about $6 per vote, and it doesn’t count rent for the site, pay for off-site election officials, and the cost of equipment or supplies, including the wasted ballots themselves.

Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park



Very good! (Right up to a certain point.)

Former U.S. Sens. Trent Lott and John Breaux, who are working diligently to ensure that Medtronic and other multinational corporations can entirely avoid paying U.S. taxes, might be careful not to go too far in this regard (“Medtronic gets ex-senators to fight looming tax backlash,” Aug. 13). From their point of view, no problem if the resultant reduction in tax revenue causes defunding of Head Start, for example. But Lott receives a lifetime, taxpayer-funded annual pension of more than $110,000 and Breaux of $114,000 (for an estimated lifetime payout of more than $4 million, in his case). Whoa! Wouldn’t want to put that at risk!

Arthur Walzer, St. Paul



If they win greater pay, will the ball roll?

There is a lawsuit in federal court that is intending to provide greater compensation to athletes who participate in big-time college and university programs (“Minneapolis law firm joins fight for college athletes,” Aug. 12). If the case is won, does the next step include money to choir members at institutions like Concordia College in Moorhead and St. Olaf in Northfield, which bring in a sizable amount of revenue each year?

Norman Holen, Richfield



Info to aid judicial choices can be found

In past years I have been in the same boat as the letter writers of Aug. 13 (“Not sure all those judicial contests were worth it”). This year’s election was a little less bewildering for me, thanks to the Web.

I, too, live in a precinct where seven candidates were running for judge. I easily found the Minnesota Secretary of State 2014 candidate filings online and was then able to readily access each candidate’s website. Comparing experience, endorsements and biographies was very useful and enlightening.

The winners of Tuesday’s primary elections will be on the ballots on Nov. 2. Given that we are called on as citizens to vote for certain judgeships, I urge readers to take a few moments to make informed choices based upon information readily available.

Therese Kakalios, Edina



Here’s one way to keep up more of a flow

We recently visited suburban Detroit, where traffic can be crushing. While we experienced heavy traffic, we didn’t see the bottlenecks that we see in the Twin Cities, for one reason: turns. Here, we wait at empty intersections for the green turn arrow. In Detroit, the arrow flashes, allowing turns when the intersection clears. While this technology wouldn’t help our freeway traffic mess, it certainly would help keep traffic moving at many intersections throughout the metro area.

Michael Burakowski, Golden Valley

• • •

Did road crews really have to gravel coat Minnehaha Parkway? It is a bustling corridor of activity for thousands of people every day on bikes, skateboards, roller blades, motorcycles, cars and foot — and a beautiful, natural creek setting right through the heart of the city. Thanks for turning that into a dust bowl, unfit for wheels or lungs. Next time, please ask if a road to be serviced is of such a nature that it deserves fresh asphalt rather than loose gravel and tar.

Scott W. Johnston, Minneapolis