Exploit the elderly? A matter of perspective


I suppose casinos could be seen to be exploiting old people (Letter of the Day, Jan. 11), especially as viewed by those people's offspring, who may see their inheritances dwindling. However, I have a different perspective on this.

When my parents retired, it looked like they were going to spend the rest of their lives in front of the television, never going out except to the doctor and the grocery store, and we worried about them. Then the first Indian casinos were built, and it was like my parents suddenly discovered new life; they kept overnight bags packed, and every now and then one would say to the other: "Feel like going up to [the casino]?"

They had lots of fun, got to know people and enjoyed a change of scenery. Even when Dad's heart problems caused him to rely on a walker, they could still have fun at the casino, although a lot of other venues were closed off by his disability. They never mortgaged the house or sold the car to indulge this pastime; overall, they pretty much broke even, which meant all the fun they got out of it was actually quite inexpensive.

If you're looking for those who want to exploit the elderly, it's not the casinos you should be after, but rather those pious souls who, I'm sure, would never think of gambling with their own money, but who want to privatize Social Security and cut Medicare so they can gamble with other folks' funds.


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We're elevating NRA beyond its stature


Somehow, during the aftermath to the Sandy Hook shootings, we as a nation, including the media, seem to have elevated the NRA to something more than it really is. It's an association with a basic mission of preserving our Second Amendment rights. However, it's being treated as having veto power to any proposed legislation. I realize that Vice President Joe Biden is heading a coalition to address gun violence with an objective to seek buy-in from groups that have an inherent interest, but we seem to be treating the NRA as if we need its blessing. It's a powerful lobby and likely will have an effect on any legislation proposed to Congress, but we're adding to its clout by seeking its input.

It's pretty clear that the NRA refuses to be reasonable, as it continues to support assault weapons and continues to add members on the premise that any gun control measure is an attempt to strip us of our right to defend ourselves.

I've been a hunter all my life and would be the first in line if I thought my right to bear hunting guns or even handguns was in jeopardy, but I just don't see any threat to that at this point in time. The NRA just likes to scare people.


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Confronting the mass murders of schoolchildren and theatergoers with gun bans is becoming popular in some circles. H.L. Mencken said, "For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple -- and wrong." These shootings can be minimized, but not by banning guns.

Political stump-jumpers overlook a huge underlying cause of such incidents: boys without fathers. Gun control is a partially misguided approach. (I say "partially" because automatic weapons and large ammo magazines, like violent video games, should arguably be prohibited or controlled.) Confronting a more serious issue -- single-mother homes -- has been politically incorrect for the media, liberal and conservative alike. Check the recently revised book "Save the Males 3" for an extensive list of these shooters, and their lack of paternal guidance and discipline.


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My brother was a member of the NRA who had no objection to the registration of guns. He had nothing to hide, but it would have been difficult for him, since his gun collection included both modern and antique firearms, and was quite valuable. When he died, a "friend" offered to sell the guns for his widow. He picked them up, and that was the last they were ever seen! Had they been registered, and the registration checked whenever they were sold, some of them may have been recovered.


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2007 documentary told a starker tale


Colin Covert's glowing review of "Zero Dark Thirty" ("a new sort of geopolitical thriller") reminds me of the 2007 Academy Award-winning documentary called "Taxi to the Dark Side." The main differences: "Taxi" had not been Hollywoodized to make it thrilling; it did not have the advertising budget of an industry behind it, and hardly anyone saw it. Oh, and it was accurate -- it showed the terrible consequences for our country, for the perpetrators who give vivid firsthand testimony about how it affected them, and for our troops who face retaliatory violence every day because someone decided that rules of war enshrined in treaties and domestic law for decades could be recklessly abandoned because we were really upset about Osama Bin Laden.

It takes a lot to rationalize beating an innocent man to death seeking information he did not have (the taxi driver), but there are folks in America who will do that in a heartbeat if they think it advances our international wars. Barbarism always wants company. I hope those who idolize Hollywood violence and torture will reflect on the long-term costs when these things become real and institutionalized.


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February concert brings some hope


Congratulations to Judy Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak for organizing the Feb. 1 concert to celebrate the Minnesota Orchestra's Grammy nomination for best orchestral performance. During my 10 years of ushering for the orchestra, I have witnessed Ms. Dayton's unwavering support of the organization. She will have my eternal gratitude if this temporary truce gets the orchestra back on stage on a permanent basis. The past few months have been very bleak without weekends filled with great music, and with the resulting loss of income during these difficult economic times.