INCOME INEQUALITY

Don’t punish taxpayers for being successful

I agree with Lori Sturdevant that the modern Minnesota economy is making the rich richer and the poor more numerous (“Tax rates relate to the elevator of opportunity,” March 17). The reason is that the very wealthy, such as the governor’s family, can weather the recession, tax hikes and burdensome regulations, while the rest of us cannot. Taxing the rich does nothing to help us. The state needs policies that will increase my spending power and help me move up in the financial ranks The obsessive focus on income inequality is ridiculous. In fact, I hope it expands. Let the rich get richer!

KAREN MARKOWITZ, Stillwater

* * *

 

GUN VIOLENCE

Differing views of the problem, solution

Critics of the excellent “Young and Armed” Star Tribune series offer Chicago, home to some of the nation’s worst gun violence, as an example of the ineffectiveness of tough gun-control laws (“A gun at 14, then a senseless killing,” March 17). They’re right, because just outside Chicago, guns remain largely available for import into the city, demonstrating the ineffectiveness of varying and uncoordinated municipal laws. The obvious solution is tighter gun-control laws nationwide. These critics also complain that the newspaper ought to be focusing on gangs, not guns. Do you know what they call a gang without guns? A club.

ROBERT ALBERTI, Minneapolis

• • •

I grew up in a gun culture, too, but my story is quite different. I got my first gun, a single-shot 20-gauge shotgun, on my 13th birthday. I was taught gun safety and marksmanship by my father, uncles, older cousins, the Boy Scouts, and at a class at the local National Guard Armory. Students often spent an hour or two in a duck slough before high school, then left shotguns, shells and their dead ducks in cars in the school parking lot. Nobody ever brought a weapon to a party; nobody ever got shot. The difference for me was having adult guidance in using firearms and in human morals. Passing ever more gun laws or blaming the NRA is not the answer.

DEAN C. NELSON, Mounds View

* * *

 

IRAQ WAR

Anniversary is time for sober reflection on cost

The invasion of Iraq resulted in loss of the nation’s credibility; the death or murder of 150,000 civilians; a sense of betrayal and deception on the part of our government, and the squandering of at least $600 billion, equating to at least $2,000 for every American.

HORACE THOMPSON, St. Paul

* * *

 

MAYO CLINIC

Minnesotans are divided over expansion

Paul John Scott’s commentary seemed to suggest that the Mayo Clinic is part of a conspiracy in the medical industry (“No time like the present to influence the future,” May 17). I’ve been a patient for 30 years and am alive today because Mayo was the only place that could diagnose my medical problem. Mayo is one of Minnesota’s low-cost providers for obtaining routine and specialized heath care. More than 10,000-plus patients each day recognize Minnesota for Mayo’s winning services, rather than that the state is home to the loser Vikings.

PHILIP JOHNSON, Brooklyn Park

• • •

Scott discusses tax and civic development issues appropriately, but he careens into a scathing indictment of the “medical-industrial complex.” Mayo is a medical system, and it can’t change the profit incentives of the complex. It’s already a destination for wealthy foreign clients (I mean patients) and Americans getting “executive physicals.” Now the Affordable Care Act and accountable care organizations will lower payments within systems taking care of local populations, so the Mayo sees its growth jeopardized. Mayo’s “bold step forward” is just a business move to make the destination more desirable to patients who will still pay retail prices. Mayo isn’t the state’s medical crown jewel. It’s just a competitor to the outstanding systems of medical care in the Twin Cities. Minnesota should not subsidize Mayo/Rochester with $585 million of infrastructure. The infrastructure needs of the rest of the state are far more important.

DR. ERIC L. BRESSLER, Minnetonka

• • •

I’m convinced that the people of Minneapolis, if provided the opportunity, would prefer to see their tax dollars go to the Mayo Clinic instead of a stadium.

POLLY MANN, Minneapolis

* * *

 

HEALTH EXCHANGE

Keeping insurers off MNsure board is wise

I’m glad no one connected with the insurance industry can be on the insurance exchange board. That would be like putting a weasel in charge of the chicken coop. They would stack the deck to better themselves and disregard the general public. We know how well the insurance industry works now to hold down costs.

NEAL ROTH, Delano

• • •

May I ask state Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, who is paying for his health insurance? (“More cost. Lower quality. Less choice,” March 20.) If it’s taxpayers, then I would like to opt out of paying for him. Being a member of the Legislature isn’t a full-time job, and legislators shouldn’t be provided benefits as if it were.

WAYNE SATHER, Eagan

* * *

 

EXPLAINING GRIDLOCK

Self-interest blinds us to the views of others

If you want to conduct a simple sociology experiment to measure the degree of narcissism in our society, simply drive the speed limit, or five miles over it, in the left-hand lane.

It won’t be long before someone is tailgating you at a dangerous interval, while others will be speeding past you in the right lane, glaring and shaking their fists. Sadly, they are no longer a small minority.

What is frightening about these people is not their irritation, but that it never occurs to them that their intent to drive 75 miles per hour does not make them part of the slower traffic that needs to keep right.

If you want to know why our elected officials in Washington are unable to compromise on anything, are unable to consider another person’s position, simply drive the speed limit in the left-hand lane.

STEVE FRANZEN, Crystal