Taxes don't necessarily punish the economy

House Speaker John Boehner's argument that increasing personal income tax rates on wealthy small-business owners will discourage them from hiring is too one-sided. If an owner decides that retaining or hiring someone will bring in more money than that person costs, it makes sense to have the employee. A small hike in taxes is only one of many considerations. The owner might even be motivated to create a way to make up for the extra expense by finding a new worker who can help boost profit. Certainly some of the extra earnings would go to government, but most of it would be retained.

Keep in mind that almost half of the wealthiest Americans are not small-business owners, so their extra taxes would not have as direct an influence on employment. True, if they have less to spend, a company could lose a customer, which in turn could affect a layoff. But taxes don't disappear down a dark hole. That money circulates. Even if it's used to reduce the national debt, it too is then spent, perhaps increasing our exports. Paying down the national debt should also reduce overall demand for borrowed money, lower interest rates, and make it easier for a business to borrow, grow and hire someone else.


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I read with interest the opinion of the president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce ("DFL control, and business is worried," Nov. 9).

I guess I don't share the gentleman's sense of alarm. I am the archetypical job creator: I own two businesses and employ a small crew of three hardworking individuals in one of them. We've been fortunate to have landed a really big contract that will provide pay for our employees and their families well into December. Please note that this is a seasonal business, so it's our rare fortune to be working in this late month. To a man, the crew would rather earn a paycheck than go on unemployment. They're proud that way.

Taxes have never been a hindrance to our success. I pay sales tax monthly, and what I'd like is for the Minnesota Department of Revenue to have a more user-friendly website. Please don't waste my time as I render unto Caesar.

To the new Legislature: Just please get out of our way. We're making jobs here, and the money flows. Tax us as you will, but that won't hurt if we're paid enough for the work we do.


The 'fiscal cliff'

Maybe it's medicine for what is ailing us

Call me an optimist, but the "fiscal cliff' may not have the predicted dire consequences. Neither President Obama nor Speaker Boehner will compromise their positions. That expectation is unrealistic. Though I agree with the Star Tribune's Nov. 11 editorial that the scheduled approach is heavy-handed, it painfully accomplishes what the vast majority of the electorate wants -- fiscal responsibility. Revenue increases, spending cuts and deficit reductions all will be accomplished. Equally important, special-interest groups will be excluded from the discussion and unable to corrupt the process. Although the economy may suffer in the short term, getting one's fiscal house in order is a good thing. The vibrant and resilient American economy will recognize this and recover just fine.


Climate change

Circumstances argue for immediate action

Bjorn Lomborg ("Climate policy that actually helps," Nov. 12) seems to say that current options for controlling our dependence on fossil fuels are too expensive and inadequate while calling for more research and development to make green energy "so cheap everyone will want it." This position seems not to take into account the rapidity of climate change; the promise of new industries and jobs based on implementing available technology; the costs of subsidizing the fossil-fuel industry; the rising costs of weather catastrophes, and the astounding costs of attempting to protect our cities and coasts from the consequences of global warming. While further research is of course essential, action now based on what we know already is crucial.


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For a convincing negative analysis of the geoengineering techniques espoused by Lomborg, readers should consult "A biased economic analysis of geoengineering" by Alan Robock, a respected climate scientist at Rutgers University, available on the Web at Real Climate -- Climate Science From Climate Scientists. It deals with the unrefereed report by Eric Bickel and Lee Lane for the Copenhagen Consensus, cited by Lomborg, that cloud brightening may be an inexpensive technique to reverse global warming, and ignores, as Robock points out, the fact that "not one cloud has ever been artificially brightened ... yet their report claims to be able to quantify the benefits and costs of cloud brightening."

Robock's analysis has attracted numerous comments appended to it on the Web. They make clear that economists -- proven to be so fallible in recent years -- are not able to provide a believable cost/benefit analysis of global-warming mitigation or reversal.


The writer is a regents' professor of ecology emeritus at the University of Minnesota.


Any inconvenience is a matter of perspective

A recent letter writer was proud of high voter turnout but critical of long waits to vote, and thought the state ill-prepared. I think we're lucky to be able to vote, appreciate it, and plan accordingly. Many people in other countries endanger their very lives to vote.



Support for nonviolence movement is appreciated

I'm a Tibetan living here for close to 15 years, and during that time I've seen wide ranges of support from our local communities concerning Tibet and Tibetans for its nonviolence movement. It was encouraging and heartwarming to see the Star Tribune's recent editorial "Pressure China to make peace in Tibet," for it is much needed to spread the awareness of Tibetans suffering inside Tibet. It is through these platforms that we can all join to spread the movement of nonviolence and spirit of peace in the 21st century.