Counting the cost of saving Israeli lives


There are often complaints about our nation's spending on foreign aid, even though it's an insignificant percentage of our annual budget. The complaints are that such aid is a giveaway, that it's ineffective and that the resources used internationally should be used at home. We now learn that U.S. foreign aid supported Iron Dome, the Israeli missile-defense system. Iron Dome's effectiveness negates all those complaints. Keeping Hamas rockets from doing major harm is no small feat, and it's in America's best interest not to have another war in the Middle East. Our government invested money, not troops, in keeping the peace. That's money well spent.


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The Star Tribune editorial on the Gaza conflict stated: "No nation, anywhere, would tolerate constant rocket attacks upon its citizens ("Israel's right to defend its citizens," Nov. 19). I agree. That's why the day will come when the United States will be held accountable for its drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere.


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School board outcome tainted by outside cash


As a parent with three children in the Minneapolis public schools, I was dismayed that Josh Reimnitz defeated Patty Wycoff ("Local school election has national implications," Nov. 19). Until we put a stop to the privatization of our public schools through corporate-style reform, we will continue to see money from outside interests flowing to school board elections. Remnitz was backed by money from 50CAN, MinnCAN and Teach For America. They're interested in "choice" (charters) and "accountability" (rating schools and teachers based on standardized test scores). None of these organizations advocate for K-12 funding for public education. It's no coincidence that large urban districts with poor and minority students are victims of the so-called reforms they advocate.


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Social Security, Medicare fill vacuum


On a television news program, an executive from Goldman Sachs said that some entitlement programs need to become more porous, effectively reducing the safety net of Social Security and Medicare. Maybe that can be done with means-testing for people who have been fortunate enough to accumulate sufficient retirement savings. However, it's important to start a discussion of how Social Security (and Medicare coverage) are really necessary to subsidize businesses that don't pay living wages. I'm not sure the fellow from Goldman Sachs really understood that a person working two full-time minimum-wage jobs still makes only about $30,000 a year. Social Security and Medicare fill that gap for low-income workers (some middle-income workers as well). Social Security and Medicare aren't entitlements. They're subsidies to companies that do not sufficiently cover the health care and retirement needs of their employees.


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Citizen outcry is vital in a vibrant democracy


It's already begun: Activists opposing the latest Metropolitan Airports Commission maneuverings are being called whiners and are being scorned for not thinking through the possible consequences of buying a home within 15 miles of the airport ("Highways in the sky may be about to ruin your life," Nov. 16). Individuals saying those things could use a lesson in civics. When undue burdens are placed on people, we have important choices to make beyond acceptance or whining. We also can be responsible citizens and organize to advocate for our interests. In fact, ordinary people organizing for this purpose help to shape communities and remain critical to a vibrant democracy. Otherwise, ordinary citizens would always be at the mercy of the powerful.


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U.S.-Dakota war

Much education yet to be done in Minnesota


Star Tribune reporter Curt Brown, who wrote a series on Little Crow this year, was on the panel that discussed the U.S.-Dakota War at the annual meeting of the Minnesota Historical Society recently ("In the footsteps of Little Crow," Aug. 12-17). Brown suggested that the MHS present Fort Snelling as it was in 1862, showing its role in the Civil War and also showing the Dakota Indian's Internment Camp, which was established that November. It's an opportunity to present two very significant stories in Minnesota's history. Brown has an excellent idea, and it should be pursued.


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Hats off to the editorial cartoonist


Now that the election is over, I want to give the Star Tribune a "thumbs up" for the great coverage, especially the fact-checking on the candidates' claims. But most of all, I applaud editorial cartoonist Steve Sack for his spot-on perspective on the national and local developments. (We need a coffee-table book from him.) Being able to laugh during all the political arguing was a real stress reliever. Kudos.


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'Fiscal cliff'

Tax cuts for the wealthy haven't created jobs


It's ironic that some in Congress still think the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy should stay in place because it would hurt the job creators to remove them. I would like to remind these people that those tax cuts have been in place for the last 12 years. If there were any correlation between lower taxes for job creators and job creators creating jobs, then why is our unemployment rate so high?