Obama's fault? Not if this is any indication


After their 2012 election losses, conservatives regrouped and declared that their message wasn't to blame; rather, it was how they communicated their beliefs. If Stephen B. Young's commentary is any indication of the new communication style, conservatives will remain out of power for a very long time ("What Obama believes is divisive," Jan. 24).

Young repackages the same beliefs (that the country rejected) about the economically disadvantaged, women and gays. He hits "entitlements" hard with the same old "we've got ours and we're not giving it to the 47 percent" mentality. As for women and gays, he uses a stunning bit of convoluted logic.

He states that most Americans believe in a creator, that this leads us to align our lives with "the purposes and moral order established by the creator," and that because this "moral order is beyond human manipulation," Americans are led to "different cultural priorities on sexual conduct and gender roles" than President Obama's. In other words, conservatives are going to continue their war on women and deny gay rights.

Most Americas are evolving and moving forward, apparently without the conservatives.


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Reading Young's commentary brought to mind my college history professor, William B. Hesseltine, who taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in the 1950s and '60s. He wrote a "Historian's 10 Commandments" that is used to this day.

Hesseltine believed that this country was not settled just by idealistic and altruistic people who were near to God in their vision, but by lots of land speculators and, of course, slaveholders, who controlled many early policies. The Constitution mirrored this, favoring the "rich, the well-born and the able, the upper class, the better class of people" (Hesseltine's words).

Our Constitution, despite this, has evolved, almost miraculously. Now we have laws to help the poor and disabled, and laws that give a voice to those who, because of poverty, race or gender, would otherwise have none. A continuing theme in all history, not just ours, is the effort of the rich and the powerful to lord it over the common folks. The rich want to preserve their power, influence and money. Is this a justifiable version of the dream? Hesseltine would probably have something to say about that.


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Locating the burden in Dayton's budget


I have been active in DFL politics for 34 years and have supported Gov. Mark Dayton in all his various campaigns for public office. I find his proposed tax on services the kind of mind numbingly shortsighted proposal that can come only from the minds of the rich and privileged with no experience with the economic issues that most of us face.

This new tax would be an incredible burden on small consultants like me. Collecting taxes, reporting on them and sending them in would require several hours of unpaid work per month, and the extra expenses for my clients would give them less incentive to hire people like me. For me, and for the thousands of small, independent consultants in similar circumstances, this tax could be a deal-breaker. It would be far less trouble and expense, and less of a threat to our businesses, to just increase income taxes.


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Taxing necessary automobile repairs and service would be a hardship on low-income people, many of whom have older cars that they may need for employment. Those older cars are the ones needing the most repair and upkeep.


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It is possible that the Mall of America -- not the walleye -- is the "golden goose" of Minnesota tourism, and it will be important to understand how the proposed sales tax on clothing would impact the mall's appeal. Would it be less likely that a family from Yankton, S.D., will take in a Twins game and stay over for a day at the mall, that a family from Milwaukee will come over for a weekend of shopping and a Vikings-Green Bay game, or that a retirement home in Chicago will fill a charter bus for a weekend in the Twin Cities?

Looked at rationally, the cost of a sales tax on clothing over $100 would be small relative to the total cost of such trips, but the decision to take such a junket is rarely a rational decision, and "no sales tax" could frequently be a significant factor.

Before it takes action, the Legislature should have the University of Minnesota's Carlson School take a close look at the full synergistic impact a clothing tax would have on Minnesota tourism and, based on that impact, develop an estimate of the net increase (or decrease) in state and local taxes that would result.


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If how we spend money is a direct reflection of our values, then the governor believes that Minnesota values the health of its children. In his recent budget, Dayton laid out a vision for our kids' future that includes nutritious food and an active lifestyle. By investing more in prevention (Statewide Health Improvement Program and Farm to School), he has made our children's future a priority.


The writer is president of the Minnesota chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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Breathe easy, until the angina kicks in


I read with a teaspoon of interest and a dollop of incredulity that the Minnesota State Fair's board of managers have voted to ban smoking in open-air spaces ("State Fair draws smoking line," Jan. 24). The incredulity arises because the board has yet to voice a concern, let alone ban, any of the salt-laden, cholesterol-packed food items so pervasive at the fair.