Who makes which decisions? How well?

Sarah Conly’s March 27 commentary (“We’re perfectly incapable of deciding for ourselves”) seemed to imply that we ought not be permitted to think for ourselves. I disagree!

I have no objection to government suggesting and warning when our personal lives and welfare are involved. However, if she wants government more involved, it ought to be regarding issues that are far more important for both personal and social welfare.

Where government ought to be more involved in regard to personal decisions are the areas of abortion and same-sex marriage, as well as homosexual behavior. If there is anything detrimental to both personal and social welfare, it’s those.

If the government needs to be involved beyond suggesting and warning, it should include being honest and open about those and other moral areas.

Bob Krueger, New Ulm, Minn.

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Conly referred to philosopher John Stuart Mill’s “harm principle.” She wrote that it means “we should almost never stop people from behavior that affects only themselves.” Conly emphasized “almost” as a caveat. Good point. But another word needs even more attention: “only.”

It’s very difficult to imagine any significant decision that doesn’t affect others. Conly gives the example of regularly gulping very large amounts of soda pop. Everybody’s health matters. Unhealthy people can’t work as well as they could, so they underperform at tasks that affect others, and may end up not performing at all. Poor health increases demand for medical services, and that increases medical and insurance rates.

Even my decision to drive into Minneapolis to see a Twins game means I’m using money that could be used to buy a book. That decision obviously has an effect on lots of people, with varying degrees of significance. We certainly can’t overlook the added air pollution I’ll create no matter where I drive.

When I spend time doing anything, like writing this letter, it means I’m not spending time doing something else, like visiting someone. So even these seemingly insignificant decisions make a difference to others. I’m not suggesting that we regulate them, but that we be more aware and regulate ourselves, because the oft-repeated assertion that “It’s my life!” is really a falsehood.

Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park

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Headlines regularly remind us that when politicians attempt to address every human need, and then are supposed to provide oversight of the bureaucracies they create, it’s not good news for taxpayers.

A March 27 story, “Health care oversight blasted,” reports on the findings by Minnesota’s legislative auditor relative to the $550 million taxpayer-subsidized health insurance program. According to Auditor Jim Nobles, the Minnesota Department of Human Services has failed for years to properly determine applicant eligibility, and after spending $40 million on a web-based system to correct the problem, the fix has been scrapped.

Another headline, “Dayton: We’ll fix e-pulltab shortfall,” reports on the collapse of the state-sanctioned electronic pulltab games that were supposed to generate the income to cover the state’s $348 million contribution to the Vikings stadium. Political decisionmakers jumped on the stadium bandwagon with companies who want to sell pulltab equipment, then relied on the company lobbyists for revenue forecasts that turned out to be bogus.

On the national scene, the Star Tribune reported that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act will raise cost claims by 32 percent, according to a study by the nation’s leading group of financial-risk analysts. This can’t be good news for those who pay for their health insurance.

Unfortunately, to get elected, politicians make promises they can’t keep, and they’re too busy with almost full-time campaigning to provide any meaningful oversight of anything. Until elected officials limit government to doing what it’s supposed to do under federal and state constitutions, and leave everything else up to the individual or private enterprise, the fiscal sinkhole will continue to grow.

Wes Mader, Prior Lake

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Our justice system does judge by degree

Justice not tempered with mercy is so inhumane that the U.S. justice system recognizes, for example, the differences between murder, manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter, and judges accordingly.

Surely an elderly woman who forgets her absentee vote and votes again is not in the same felonious league as a person who stuffs a ballot box or runs from precinct to precinct trying to vote more than once (“Elderly St. Peter woman’s two votes now a felony charge,” March 8).

A March 28 letter writer who infers a chain of more and more heinous crimes of forgetfulness from the act of forgetting an absentee ballot and concludes that “forgetfulness should not be accepted as an excuse for breaking any laws” has not internalized our justice system.

Elaine Frankowski, Minneapolis

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Hit it on the sweet spot, or it’ll sting

As of this writing, the forecast high for Opening Day at Target Field on Monday is 31 degrees. Any chance we could use the Dome instead?

Dave Porter, Minneapolis