It doesn’t boil down to mere ‘choices’

I sincerely hope the mother whose letter was published Feb. 6 is successful in raising her four boys to never touch alcohol, drugs or tobacco (“No choice in addiction? I’m not buying it.”) Perhaps she has found the parenting technique that has failed the many good parents I have met whose children became addicts. This group includes teetotalers, pastors, child psychologists, evangelicals, doctors, single parents and healthy, two-parent families. They all taught their kids values and choices.

In our society, the number of people who escape adolescence without trying alcohol is minuscule. Of the rest, some won’t really like the feeling and will probably never become problem drinkers. Others will think it is fun and may abuse the chemical with bad results, but may not develop an addiction. For some, however, it will be a biochemically wonderful, life-changing experience, and they will crave repetition.

Addiction has been recognized as a disease since 1956. Science has shown both genetic and behavioral components. Anyone genetically predisposed to heart disease or Type 2 diabetes should not smoke and should eat well and exercise, yet we do not demonize those who make poor choices. Addicts make poor choices. Let’s drop the moral judgments and deal with addiction as a serious public-health issue.


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Addiction is not limited to taking a substance! We eat food to live; we procreate; we gamble for fun; we hoard — all can become an addiction. This is not a simple disease.




How it would be dispensed is critical

I agree that medical marijuana should be allowed in Minnesota. I have only a few stipulations: It must be ordered by a physician practicing in the state. It must be sold in registered pharmacies — absolutely no marijuana shops on Hennepin Avenue or anywhere else. How the supply of marijuana is obtained and distributed will be up to the state — no one else.

HAROLD OLSON, Minneapolis



Swipe fees are where issuers could help

Joe Witt, president and CEO of the Minnesota Bankers Association, makes the reasonable suggestion that retailers are key to stopping credit card fraud (Opinion Exchange, Feb. 3). He states: “If retailers had some financial responsibility for fraudulent electronic transactions, perhaps they may be more interested in detecting and stopping these crimes.”

The problem with this sentiment is that the card issuers (banks) charge the retailers hefty “swipe fees” on every transaction. These fees are more than adequate to cover reimbursements to consumers for fraudulent purchases and still deliver hefty profits to the card companies.

I agree that retailers must share the burden of fraud compensation with the banks. But wait — isn’t Target on the hook for millions of dollars to the banks for this breach already? Therefore, all that is left is for the Bankers Association to reduce swipe fees to help retailers fund the enhancement of security practices. I won’t be holding my breath.


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Thinking out of the box, if the Justice Department had informed the Federal Reserve of the Target breach, the Fed could have told banks, thereby allowing them to cap their losses, and Target would have had mere thousands of calls from bank IT departments instead of millions of calls from irate customers.

JIM MORK, Minneapolis



Cynicism aside, state’s caucuses are inspiring

Having come lately to Minnesota with its caucus system, I have a deep appreciation of this procedure in which ordinary citizens can and do participate. It is democracy in action when anyone may have a voice in the selection of candidates and present resolutions for consideration that, if approved, can move upward, gaining more support. It is grass-roots action at its best.

At my caucus, there was no pressure to endorse party favorites (“Caucuses really do give political insiders a head start,” Letter of the Day, Feb. 5). It is doubtful that insiders have a better chance in the caucus system than in primaries. It is my hope that Minnesota will continue holding caucuses, a basic part of our democratic process.




Luckily, the collection apparatus functions

To all those who have their undies in a bundle over the MNsure website, relax. I can happily report that the Minnesota Department of Revenue website (which is used to report and file sales tax returns, among many other things) works exceedingly well. I am confident that the MNsure site will soon achieve a similar level of performance.