Opponents won't be infantalized


Peggy Callahan's tone-deaf defense of the wolf hunt in Minnesota ("Opposition to wolf hunt seems purely emotion, Nov. 17) misses the point. The wolf hunt isn't driven by science -- it is the work of the hunting lobby. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website, only 15 percent of Minnesotans hunt, while 52 percent of Minnesotans watch wildlife. We have a wolf hunt because a small minority wants to kill wolves for fun. This is offensive and disrespectful of nature. I believe that the vast majority of Minnesotans oppose this hunt. Rushing to hold a hunt when the wolf has just been removed from the endangered-species list clearly demonstrates that the state is not competent to "manage" the wolf population. The wolf needs to be returned to the endangered-species list. And the Minnesota wolf hunt needs to end. Contact your legislators now. This issue isn't going away.


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Callahan may be a good scientist, but her advocacy skills fall a little short. She set up three "emotional" arguments against the wolf hunt, then failed to refute two of them. It is clear from her article that the killing of key pack members (however caused) does in fact result in a "fractured" pack, with less ability to breed and hold territory, and increased mortality risk for the remaining members. Of course, some members of these fractured packs will survive, but she doesn't know how many. And does she really think that trapping and releasing these animals for research purposes is morally equivalent to trapping and killing them just for fun? Really?


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The implication is that wolf-hunt opponents are driven by their passions, not by reason and science. There is a problem here: The opposite of emotion is not reason but lack of emotion -- or cold-bloodedness. The opposite of reason is irrationality, which is anathema to science (as emotion certainly is not). Yet, in another recent commentary ("Have scientists fallen prey?" Oct. 28), the claim was made that scientists opposing the wolf hunt are driven by "emotion," which supposedly discredits their findings!

Wolf-hunt proponents need to get their act together and accept that their views are driven as much by passions and prejudice as the views of wolf-hunt opponents. Science will help, but won't decide this matter. We will.


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Krugman's hope is not a sound strategy


Paul Krugman ("Deficit doesn't require higher eligibility ages," Nov. 17) believes we should not increase the Social Security retirement age. However, his rationale does not hold water. He states it is not about life expectancy at birth but rather at retirement age that matters. That is accurate, but he then goes on to say the life expectancy at age 65 has not changed since 1970 (wrong) and he completely ignores the improvement between the 1930s and 1970.

Here are the facts, according to Actuarial Study No. 116 by the Social Security Administration. Life expectancy at age 65 in 1930, 12.4 years; in 1970, 15.1 years; in 2010, 17.9 years. Social Security is a transfer payment system, balancing payroll tax with retirement payments. If those retirement payments are to be made for a 40 percent longer time, taxes have to go up or the retirement age needs to increase to keep the finances in balance. Krugman advocates we should do neither, but just go further into debt. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has suggested we need adult discussions on current fiscal challenges; Krugman's opinion piece does not answer that call.


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Krugman lists several good reasons for avoiding higher eligibility ages but omits a very important one: Forcing people to work longer when there's high unemployment would make matters much worse. A much better fix for Medicare would be to offer its coverage as an option to at least some of those who don't currently qualify for it, with premium adjustments that ensure that benefits can be paid for those who do.


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People have spoken: Raise the top rate


In 2008, Barack Obama campaigned on the idea for ending the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent of earners (essentially, single filers earning more than $200,000 a year and joint filers earning more than $250,000 a year in taxable income after deductions.) He was elected.

Due to the Bush near-depression, upon taking office Obama agreed to forestall this increase until the cut expired at the end of 2010. When that deadline arrived, he was forced, by intransigence in the Senate, to barter an extension of the cut in order to obtain extensions in long-term unemployment, payroll tax relief and lowered rates for small businesses -- all critical to needed economic stimulus and, in a word, humane.

This year, the president again campaigned clearly on what he called a Clinton-era top rate of 39.6 percent. Once again, he was elected, and exit polls showed that 60 percent of voters supported this action or more in terms of increased taxes. Yet, now, we are hearing Romneyesque ideas from House Speaker John Boehner about limiting unspecified deductions. When lobbyists and interest groups get involved, such discussions could take all of 2013.

It is time to enact what the voters have chosen: the return of the top marginal rate to 39.6 percent. If deductions need to be limited to offset the sequester or raise the other revenue that is required, that discussion can come later.


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Until we get a flat tax system with no deductions, we will never have a just tax code. Every dollar earned over a set amount will be taxed at the exact same level -- that's fair, and it's the only way to solve our tax problem. All the banter is simply a device used by politicians to divide us and cover the real problem of spending too much.