Too much spending on follies and trolleys

President Obama was in town on Wednesday, telling us that he is going to rebuild the infrastructure (“St. Paul depot helps make case for Obama’s plans to boost jobs,” Feb. 27). But wasn’t he supposed to do that in his first four years? Instead, he put the money into windmills, solar panels and electric cars. Six years later, he is still talking about infrastructure. He is also telling us how great the economy is. Best Buy is laying off 2,000 people, and Wells Fargo is laying off 700 people because mortgage loans stink. I would hate to see what would happen in a good economy.

What the government is doing is not working. Why don’t the news media at least offer honest suggestions instead of going along with every idea the government comes up with?


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The Star Tribune Editorial Board (Feb. 27) supports raising the federal gas tax, since the Highway Trust Fund is going broke. I agree that our infrastructure is crumbling. Many of us have been saying that for a long time. The simple solution is to direct all fuel taxes, as well as all state vehicle license fees, directly toward improving our roads and bridges. We have siphoned away our resources and have directed them at pet projects like trains and proposed trolley cars.

Direct our tax dollars toward the intended purpose, and we will have plenty of money for our roads.

STEVE JOHNSON, Zumbrota, Minn.

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Advocacy for new taxes for transportation infrastructure repair is incomplete without a suggested mechanism ensuring responsible allocation of resources based on project need. The federal military base closure commission model comes to mind. Otherwise, politicians of all stripes revert to the inside joke on all us taxpayers: “Ain’t no ribbon-cutting ceremonies when you just fix a bridge.”




May it fail, from Minnesota to Arizona

When Katherine Kersten opened the conversation about the Safe and Supportive Schools Act (“Antibullying bill ‘safe’? Check the hidden agenda,” Opinion Exchange, Feb. 27), she used code phrases such as “political correctness,” “special-interest groups,” “local control,” “parental notification” and “brave new world.” She argues that such a law would be an excessive and unnecessary restriction of freedom and that it is a danger to be avoided. Replace “political correctness” with “kindness” or “inclusive,” and you get closer to the truth of this effort. The bill is needed because some Minnesota school districts, like some states, have asserted the freedom to discriminate on religious grounds.

The protections in our Bill of Rights are core principles intended to create a more just society. That isn’t dependent on whether the reality of someone else’s identity makes you uncomfortable or offends your religion. We will be a much stronger nation when more Americans understand that.


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One would hope that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s abrupt reversal on the idea of “religious” reasons for discrimination will give Kersten a clue that this odious way of thinking is on its way out. A person’s religious beliefs are his or hers alone and can never justify treating others badly; there’s nothing in any holy book that says, “If thy neighbor’s eye offends thee, pluck it out.”


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With Brewer’s action, and with the Texas courts striking down anti-gay legislation, isn’t it time that we ask our lawmakers to back off? Clearly, no matter how hard the conservative movement tries to advance anti-LGBT legislation, it likely will go nowhere. The train has left the station, folks. If you have doubts, just ask most any person under 30. They accept that we are all created equal and do not support discrimination in any form.




Government never knows its limitations

The front-page article “Legislators try to clear confusion over e-cigarettes” (Feb. 27) reminded me of the similarities in the thinking of some of our politicians. The statement by DFL Rep. Laurie Halverson — “This is the Wild West. We just don’t know and the consumer doesn’t know. The consumer is being told they’re harmless, but the fact is the consumer doesn’t know because we haven’t regulated it.” — sounds a lot like Nancy Pelosi saying that we must pass the Affordable Care Act so we know what’s in it.




Minnesotans aren’t as sharp as they think

“Crash data, last Thursday through Saturday afternoon: 964 crashes, 2,342 vehicles off the road, 1,082 stalled vehicles, 74 semitrailer trucks jackknifed and 4,414 calls for service” (“Don’t drive if you don’t have to, State Patrol advises,” Feb. 23). These facts do not seem to confirm the idea that Minnesotans know how to drive on roads that are snow-and-ice-packed. This was not even this season’s first snowfall!

Many of us scoffed at Atlanta drivers a few weeks ago who were slipping, sliding and crashing on roads with only 2 inches of ice and snow.

I believe we can do better by slowing down, keeping a safe distance from the vehicle ahead, not using cellphones while driving, keeping lights on, using turn signals, driving defensively, being patient and courteous, and heeding the advice not to drive if it isn’t necessary. These practices can greatly reduce numbers like the ones listed above and help us survive this long, wearying winter.