Charles Krauthammer’s Jan. 10 column proposing to raise the federal gas tax by $1 and compensate consumers by lowering the FICA tax left me scratching my head. He says it is a win-win idea for which he has been advocating for 32 years, but it has holes large enough to drive a fuel tanker through, so I understand why no one has taken him up on it.

First, it makes no sense to raise the federal gas tax and have none of the increase go to highway infrastructure. His assertion is that a higher tax will discourage driving and reduce wear on the roads. This is true, but thousands of bridges and miles of roads already need replacement. His plan would not provide new funding to repair and replace substandard infrastructure.

Second, reducing the FICA tax would only weaken Social Security. With the large numbers of baby boomers entering retirement, we need instead to strengthen it. The data show that a significant percentage of Americans have little saved for retirement. Millions also face cuts in their pensions. They will be depending upon Social Security more than ever.

If more funding is needed to maintain highways, then it should to be secured in an appropriate manner. Let’s not play with gimmicks and try to make them look legitimate. Social Security and our nation’s roads are both too important.

Ken Ascheman, Blaine


Wish U.S. leaders had shown their faces

It’s hard to forget the image of then-Vice President Dick Cheney in 2005, sitting among the world’s dignitaries, who were all dressed in dignified black at the commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp, while he chose to wear a green, furlike, lined parka that one journalist described as “the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snowblower.”

Never thought I’d say this, but Cheney’s inappropriate and weird-looking presence there was a whole lot better than the no-show of our top leadership at Sunday’s peace march in Paris.

The Star Tribune’s Jan. 12 headline reads “Arm-in-arm, the world stands with France.” Well, almost.

Richard Schwartz, Minneapolis



Don’t legislators have real work to do?

Pretty sad that the first thing our state representatives decide they will probably agree on is Sunday liquor sales (“Tipping point … ?,” Jan. 11). “Oh, wow” to our representatives. Please hurry and break your legs running to vote for this very important issue. Then spend the rest of the session pointing fingers at one other about everything else, rather than getting anything done.

Dewayne Kangas, Blaine

• • •

The two main arguments against Sunday sales don’t hold water. The arguments used by our representatives are that either the beverage union doesn’t want it or the municipal and independent stores don’t. True, perhaps, but the people do. The Legislature is not elected to cater to businesses that enjoy a monopoly or to special interests that give them the most money. Let the market decide winners and losers.

The second argument, coming from the public, is “Why can’t you plan ahead?” Couldn’t the same be said for anything? Why do groceries, some big-box stores and gas stations need to be open 24/7/365? Why does Target need to be open at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve? Can’t you plan ahead?

There’s also the infantile “if you have to drink so bad on Sunday, you must have a problem.” In reality, times have changed. Not everyone has Saturday off. Or maybe somebody was out of town all week, arriving home on Sunday, and wants some beer. Maybe they got an invitation for an impromptu barbecue. Who cares?

This law was passed in a different time. Now all of our surrounding states have Sunday liquor. Let the stores that want to be open do so. Those that choose not to can stay closed. Another option would be to make Monday, probably their slowest day, the closed day. Either way, it’s time for change.

John G. Morgan, Burnsville



Pundits in the press just don’t understand

If I hadn’t noticed that the Jan. 10 Short Takes item was reprinted from the Washington Post, I would have sworn it originated from the Star Tribune editorial staff.

The Post editorial misses the point when it calls the turning of police officers’ backs to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio “boorish.” In my opinion, those officers turned their backs as a gesture of disdain for the officeholder and not for the position of mayor. Their action in no way reflects on the funeral for their fellow officer but, rather, tells the mayor that his comments about his son’s possible safety in the presence of New York police officers were unneeded, disrespectful and even harmful to his son.

I, too, hope that other factors explain the statistics on police activities and that rational and meaningful discussions can occur to address the root cause of all this recent unrest and violence. A good and needed start would be an apology from De Blasio for his harmful and insulting remarks to the officers.

Mike Auspos, Ramsey

• • •

Former NYPD officer Steve Osborne blames De Blasio for the current poisonous relationship between New York police and the mayor (“Why NYPD cops are turning their backs on the mayor,” Jan. 9). De Blasio’s offenses include marching with Al Sharpton and others protesting against police brutality. Osborne apparently believes that the mayor should only support police officers and not the families of the unarmed black men killed by those officers. The mayor would not be doing his job if he simply ignored citizen complaints about excessive force.

Osborne also states that “it has taken two dead cops for some people to take a step back and realize what a difficult job cops have.” Most people already know that police officers have a difficult job, and most citizens respect those who fulfill their duty. Osborne and other officers knew the dangers before becoming officers — they are not entitled to ceaseless praise for doing a job they signed up to do.

Osborne also faults De Blasio for telling his biracial son to be wary of police. Knowing what happened to Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Amadou Diallo and Abner Louima, any responsible parent would give the same warning.

Terrance C. Newby, Roseville



Remember, there was a reason it happened

The Dec. 20 protest at the Mall of America has created a lovely little dialogue regarding law and order and a hapless interpretation of civil disobedience.

What was the protest about again? Neither the protesters nor the press have created any meaningful dialogue about that. That is what I call a failure to communicate.

Tim Kleinpaste, Minneapolis