STATE TAX POLICY

Looks like Minnesota has the better outcome

Richard Chandler, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, happily notes that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is cutting taxes and reducing state government spending while Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is raising taxes while expanding government services ("May the best state win," Oct. 12).

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia publishes a monthly State Coincident Index. It combines four factors: nonfarm payroll employment; average hours worked in manufacturing; unemployment rate, and wage and salary distributions.

If you compare each monthly report since January 2011, when Walker and Dayton took their respective offices, Minnesota has won every month. In fact, the gap is widening. When the governors took office, Minnesota had an 8.14 percent advantage over Wisconsin; now it is 10.22 percent.

So — to Chandler, Walker and the rest of Wisconsin — I say this: The best state is already winning, and by a wider margin than ever. If you are a business and you want to be on the winning team, feel free to come to Minnesota.

MARC DOEPNER-HOVE, Mound

CAMPAIGN FINANCE

You, the voter, may be rendered irrelevant

When the U.S. Supreme Court hands down its decision in McCutcheon vs. FEC (argued on Oct. 8), it may no longer matter if we bother to go to the polls, thoughtful or not ("Only thoughtful voting can change the dysfunction in Washington," Oct. 13). Money will decide who "represents" us, and it won't be my $25 or your $50. If Justice Antonin Scalia could say during oral arguments that he doesn't think $3.5 million "is a heck of lot of money," are we not on our way further down the road of pay-to-play politics? The post-Watergate, bipartisan McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms are about to be further eviscerated. Elections? How about high-stakes "democracy" roulette, where only millionaires and billionaires have a seat at the table?

PHYLLIS RODEN, Minneapolis

THE COURTS

Inconsistent sentencing damages credibility

Legitimacy, a court's most precious endowment, is, as the Supreme Court once observed, a "product of substance and perception." To maintain its respect and authority, a court's rulings must be defended by logic, they must make sense. Where, then, is the logic when a Hennepin County judge ships to prison the high school cheerleader who prostituted a teammate (Star Tribune, Oct. 12), but an Anoka County judge does not send to prison the drunken driver who killed two people (Oct. 11)? When legitimacy is lost, justice becomes mere public theater.

BRYAN J. LEARY, Minnetonka

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

Another year, another dubious decision

Malala Yousafzai is worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize. However, after Al Gore won for simply not being George Bush, and Barack Obama won for merely getting elected, the Nobel Peace Prize is not worthy of Malala Yousafzai.

GAIL MATHEWS, Apple Valley

CATHOLIC CHURCH

We're witnessing the tyranny of the accusers

Has no one recognized that the struggles of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have been proliferated by a bunch of bullies? I get that there were vulnerable people involved — that situations may not have been handled back then as they would be handled today.

When is enough enough? When will dissatisfied groups accept apologies and move on with their lives? Why is it OK for the accusatory people to be judge and jury? Because an accusation is made, therefore it must be true? In America, we are innocent until proven guilty. When is an apology not enough? Will continuing to bully the accused undo the alleged action? Do the accusers never forgive?

The laity may not agree with the actions of the clergy; however, clergy members are still in a position of authority and deserve respect. They are humans, subject to temptations like the rest of us. As Jesus said: "Who among you are blameless?" The clergy need our prayers to remain strong against the temptations. Possibly it is time to check into the accusers' closets and see what skeletons lurk there — or are they perfect?

MARLENE ZACHMAN, Albertville, Minn.

DON'T KNOW MUCH …

… about history, if you rely on the letters

I hope that Minnetonka High School juniors who read the Star Tribune letters on Saturday used their critical-thinking skills and notes from class. On this week's exam they will be expected to know that Emperor Constantine did not conquer any "Byzantine empire" when he renamed the city Byzantium to Constantinople. In Constantine's time, Byzantium was already the eastern part of the Roman Empire, and the richer and more important part which is why Constantine moved the capital there. It was Emperor Diocletian who later split the Roman Empire in two, leaving Rome itself and the west to decline and/or fall while the Byzantine Romans prospered for another thousand years. Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople. Why did Byzantium/Constantinople get the works? That's nobody's business but the Turks', and won't be on the exam.

ALEXANDER S. HINDIN, St. Louis Park