For the state, there's money on the line


I am a straight male who has never married. I am also the head of a nonprofit arts organization. While I could argue vociferously about the nonmonetary value of the arts, we are often asked (usually by elected officials) to justify our existence based on the economic engine that the arts provide to the financial health of Minnesota. It is an impressive set of statistics.

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts reports that the arts boasted a $250 million yearly impact until voters in 2008 approved a constitutional amendment that increased sales tax for the arts, water conservation and the environment, pumping $22 million into the annual state economy (plus dollars leveraged).

Logic dictates that we examine the next attempt to amend the Constitution similarly. State statistics show that in 2011 there were 28,111 weddings. Industry associations and magazines suggest that $35,000 is now spent, on average, per wedding. Stats also show that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, and the average divorce also costs $35,000 (for lawyers, mediators, psychologists, accountants, etc.).

Ten percent of the population self-identifies as LGBT. If there are 10 percent more weddings per year, and if half of them, sadly, follow the rest of the population and result in divorce, think of the money added to the economy.

The conclusion for the fiscal conservative with an ownership of fiduciary responsibility: Vote "no" to the marriage amendment.



* * *


Star Tribune editorial dismissed supporters


The Star Tribune's Oct. 23 editorial about the voter ID ballot question did not address the concerns of the proponents. If enacted, the law would not apply in a major election until 2014. It would be difficult to comprehend that a person eligible to vote could not obtain an ID in two years. (Many countries require a thumbprint to vote; I would welcome that method.)

The reason I will vote "yes" on the amendment is that I consider voting a precious right. However, I do not want my vote cancelled by someone who is not a legal voter, and that applies to felons, noncitizens or those voting in multiple states or precincts. Those saying evidence of fraud is nonexistent are those profiting from illegal votes.

As I was looking at the amount of money spent by opponents, it occurred to me that with that money they could have registered and given ID to every legitimate voter in Minnesota many times over.


* * *


Important topics missing in debates


I found this year's debates extremely frustrating. The foreign-policy debate consisted solely of how to deal with all the people who hate America. Unmentioned was the Mexican drug war; global warming; all the people dying worldwide from easily preventable diseases; the trade deficit; the potential collapse of the European Union, and more. The domestic debates basically ignored women's issues; the dangers of obscene amounts of money skewing our elections; voter suppression; the domestic drug war, and many more issues of concern to the masses.

I watched the debates on Democracy Now and was able to see more than the two corporate candidates, and most of the answers I agreed with came from the "third party" candidates, especially Jill Stein. I encourage all Minnesotans to widen their perspective and consider that the two corporate parties do not have a monopoly on solutions. In fact, I'll posit that the duopoly is detrimental to democracy, and that closed debates are worse than no debates.