Medical device firms are now feeling the pain
As part of the Affordable Care Act, a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices took effect on Jan. 1. This is not a tax on profits, but a tax on revenues. Even if a medical technology company has significant losses, it is still subject to the tax. This is especially relevant to Minnesota, which has the largest per capita medical technology industry in the country.
Minnesota companies such as Medtronic, St. Jude Medical, Boston Scientific and numerous startups will likely fund the tax through a decrease in research and layoffs. A number of Minnesota jobs are at risk, as the state has approximately 35,000 medical device jobs and more than 100,000 indirect supporting jobs.
Our U.S. senators, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, voted for this tax with their yes votes on the ACA, but they are currently attempting to have the provision reversed. I hope they are successful, but I have to ask why they supported it in the first place with their support for the ACA.
JIM RIPPLE, MINNEAPOLIS
* * *
GOV. MARK DAYTON
A populist who's never had to make ends meet
How unfortunate it is that Minnesota has a rich heir as governor. Gov. Mark Dayton not only is a populist, but he's also never had to live within limited resources. Dayton does sincerely care about the less fortunate, but ultimately spending more and taxing more will make our state less competitive. Future generations of working-age Minnesotans will suffer because of fewer job opportunities and more state-subsidized obligations. Business and high-income earners will eventually flee our state, as is now happening in California.
The answer is to continue to make government more efficient, take care of those who really need help, eliminate subsidies and handouts that are not a true function of state government, and create a tax structure that encourages, rather than discourages, business and high-income earners to support Minnesota.
I am about to turn 80, and my wife and I will remain Minnesota residents. My business, which now operates in another state, could not survive the anti-business sentiment in Minnesota 20 years ago. The business climate in Minnesota has improved in the last 20 years, but many of those gains will be lost if Dayton's tax-and-spend proposals become law.
MARK PAPER, WAYZATA
* * *
Atheists, like gays, deserve protection
Now that it looks like the Boy Scouts of America might allow local chapters to stop discriminating against gays, I wonder if they can also stop discriminating against atheists ("Boy Scouts ready to scrap ban on gays," Jan. 29). The official BSA policy states, "The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship..." The Scouts would do well to drop that dishonest, mean-spirited slur.
MARIE ALENA CASTLE, MINNEAPOLIS
The writer is communications director for Atheists for Human Rights.
* * *
We never hear how guns can save lives
U.S. Rep Keith Ellison, D-Minn., is encouraging other members of Congress to invite people who have been affected by gun violence to attend President Obama's State of the Union speech.
I can only assume that in fairness, and we know that Democrats are all about fairness, they will also invite people whose lives have been saved because they were armed.
One person they could invite might be the woman in Oklahoma, a young mother of a 3-month-old who had lost her husband to cancer the week before. Two men broke into her house. She had been on the phone with a 911 dispatcher who advised her she could not shoot unless they were in the house. They broke in, she shot and killed one and the other ran away. We rarely hear about this side of gun ownership.
MIKE MCLEAN, RICHFIELD
* * *
U's orgasm program less than satisfying
Clearly, this state has a spending problem. Yet, we taxpayers are told that we must spend $3,400 on a University of Minnesota-sponsored event showing students how they can achieve a better orgasm ("U official says sexy seminar title was just a come-on," Feb. 1). Many of us are struggling to pay for our children's education, meet our obligations as state taxpayers, and deal with the newly enacted payroll tax increases from the Obama administration. Can't we finally draw a line, agreeing to no taxpayer subsidies for something as basic as an individual student's sexual satisfaction?
MARK H. REED, PLYMOUTH
* * *
A history lesson on the state's lumberjack look
The Jan. 31 Variety feature on the "urban lumberjack" brought back a lot of memories. My grandpa, Ira Brooker, was a lumberjack on the St. Croix River.
Looking at census records, he was listed as a common laborer. The life was very difficult, but those men built our state.
I also thought about my uncle, Jim Brooker, who died too young after a career as a union cement worker. For Christmas every year we would give him Pendleton plaid flannel shirts.
When his bad back caused him to retire, we still gave him the shirts. After he died, we found some of them had not been worn because he was too frugal to wear a new shirt until the old ones wore out.
The story was about more than a fashion statement: It was about work and workers.
CHARLOTTE BROOKER, MAPLEWOOD