Are post-verdict protests warranted?

As a young man back in the 1950s, I stood with my black brothers in picket lines and demonstrations, fighting for equal justice under the law, and against lynch mob rule. So I am very disappointed to see NAACP leaders now whipping up mob emotions against the rule of law.

The George Zimmerman trial involved 200 exhibits, 84 photos, 38 prosecution witnesses, 18 defense witnesses, 14 days of testimony, and 16 hours of deliberations by a jury accepted by both prosecution and defense. The jury decided Zimmerman was not guilty.

Are the howling mobs better qualified to judge whether justice has been done?


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I think the jury got it right in the Zimmerman trial, and by that I mean they followed the instruction given to them by the judge. I also think the legal system, not the jury, got it wrong. The prosecution did a poor job: It should have raised the language of the Florida statute (776.041) that says that use of force is not available to someone who initially provokes the use of force (which Zimmerman did by pursuing Trayvon Martin even after the police told him more than once not to). But what pushed me over the line is this: The Martin family is planning to file civil charges against Zimmerman. How many of us know that the “stand your ground” law in Florida says at 776.032 that if a person (i.e., Zimmerman) is given immunity under that law, then the other party (i.e., the Martins) may be ordered to pay that person’s legal fees? Yup. As if losing a son were not enough, the Matins may actually end up paying money to the man who killed their son. Now if that is not a broken system worthy of protest, I don’t know what is.

JOHN MEDEIROS, Minneapolis

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Corporate complaints, warnings fail to impress

“Medical device tax receipts now top $1 billion,” according to a July 16 headline. Our Minnesota senators and at least one representative are working hard to end the 2.3 percent excise tax.

The device companies claim that the tax “threatens medical innovation and jobs.” Yet, the tax money will be used to support health care reform. I think it should be noted that an industry that is making over $43 billion in gross sales is complaining about a $1 billion tax bill that will help provide health care to those who have had little or none before.

RITA LESCH, Bloomington

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While I agree with Omar Ishrak (the CEO of Medtronic) that tax reform is badly needed in the United States (“Put federal tax reform on the state’s wish list,” July 12), I’m certainly beyond weary of multimillionaires complaining about taxes. The notion that if only we’d fix corporate taxes all would be well in the world for the rest of us — because we’d all reap the rewards — sounds eerily similar to “trickle-down” ideas of years ago. And those of us firmly in the middle class — or lower — surely wonder where all that bounty went to.

I’m not dismissing the need for reform — and that would involve considerations for the business community. But where reform is really needed is in the hearts and minds of all Americans — especially those who have benefited the most in our capitalistic system. That reform really begins with taking into account that our poorest, those who work for $20,000 to $30,000 per year, need our attention first. Then, let’s look at how companies like Medtronic, who already enjoy a healthy “bottom line,” can do even better.

JIM STROMBERG, White Bear Lake Twp.

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We can’t rely upon the market alone

I believe we must make it possible for more students to attend college, acquiring the skills and critical-thinking ability to join the middle class and sustain our democracy. I was once a low-income student, and because I graduated in 1963 with only $1,200 in loans, I was able to join the middle class and become a professional educator, teaching students from eighth grade through graduate school. That’s why I support Mike Obermueller for U.S. House in Minnesota’s Second District in 2014.

Furthermore, I believe that the federal government — not the market alone — should help to solve the current crisis in student loan debt. When the banks were in crisis, the government — that is, taxpayers — bailed them out. But now that student debt has reached $1 trillion, Laura Brod, a former state representative and current University of Minnesota regent who supports incumbent U.S. Rep. John Kline — believes that “the market” should solve the problem (Readers Write, July 13). I disagree.

As Obermueller points out (Readers Write, July 7), under Kline’s proposal, student loans would become more expensive, making it impossible for low-income students to attend college. Kline’s plan also creates greater uncertainty for borrowers about the total cost of their loans and fails to include additional help for students struggling to repay their loans.

I also find it disturbing that Kline’s major campaign contributions come from for-profit schools, because, as U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa has shown, many of these schools are exploiting their students.

BRENDA DALY, Burnsville

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I wish that Brod or Kline or someone would explain why it would be advantageous to base student loan interest rates on the market when that raises the very real possibility that students might be faced with rates even higher than the dreaded 6.8 percent. Of course, they may get lower rates — it all depends on whether the market goes up or down. Do we really want to tie educational opportunity to something as volatile and capricious as a market?

LAUREN SOTH, Northfield, Minn.

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Cartoon was wrong: It’s of great value

L.K. Hanson’s July 15 “You Don’t Say” cartoon, quoting Diderot that it is “not important at all to believe or disbelieve in God,” displays a little 18th-century ignorance.

Apart from eternal salvation (not a bad deal), current statistics say that religious people are healthier, happier, have more stable marriages … and, oh, yes, contribute more to charity and are more active in civic affairs.

I’ll take those odds.