The fact that there’s a tryout is telling

Something is wrong when the process of voting is made so complex that Minneapolis has to buy new voting machines and host lunch-hour educational sessions to explain the process. The Star Tribune’s well-meaning explanatory editorial (“Try ranked-choice before Nov. 5 voting,” Sept. 13) laments the fact that few people show up for these educational sessions and urges us to bone up on this new ranked-choice voting system.

With 35 candidates for mayor and no primary election to weed the field down, voters might well answer they don’t have time to bone up on the process as well as on the candidates. Advocates of RCV argue that not having a primary saves the city money and ensures that anyone elected gets 50-percent-plus-one of the votes for that office. But, as I and others fear, with this complex system and the proliferation of candidates, fewer people are going to vote. That majority of the votes cast may be a very small percentage of the potential voters in the city making “50 percent plus one” quite meaningless.

What’s worse with ranked-choice is that the combination of candidates having to appeal to voters for those second and third votes and to stand out in a crowded field may well make these city campaigns more expensive, less substantive and ripe for manipulation.

The educational campaigns for ranked-choice demonstrate the problem. Ranking peanuts, pretzels or popcorn at candidate meetings or parks at the city-sponsored events demeans the whole process.

Elections have consequences. The choices should be clear and the system transparent. After this election, we may have to rethink ranked-choice voting.


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Syria situation is not a talent competition

What a ridiculous headline “Putin takes stage from Obama in Syrian crisis” (Sept. 12). This underscores a suspicion I have had for sometime — that there are many in this country, not least the print media, who really don’t want Obama to succeed in the Syrian mess. All of a sudden, Putin, one of the world’s most ruthless dictators, becomes the good guy and Obama becomes the weakling. What did Putin do? He simply gave Obama an option in an impossible situation. I thank Putin for that and praise God that Obama has a legitimate option.


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Commentary writer responds to letters

In my Sept. 11 commentary “How job creators get rigmaroled over,” I was stating a list of some of the things an employer must comply with. I agree with the letter writers who responded that we need to pay taxes (though I would prefer less of them and more transparent — government spends $17,400 for every man, woman and child); that we need to create safe workplaces; that we need laws to protect citizens, and that we need to protect our environment.

As one writer pointed out, my competitors must “jump the same hoops,” as does anyone trying to open a bakery or a neighborhood store.

The government has created very convoluted tax, regulatory and tort systems. Could there not be one government organization to oversee business? One point of contact that helps businesses comply? One agency to streamline the process? One tax to pay? How is a bakery, a lawn mower or any small business to keep up with it? Small business makes up 50 percent of all private-sector employment. Why would government continue to make it harder and more expensive to start a business?

JOHN KALAN, Spring Lake Park

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One of the letter writers stated that in most cases business owners collect the largest paycheck of any employee. In reality, the largest percentage of businesses and most business owners are start-ups and entrepreneurs who generally don’t take a paycheck for years after they begin their company, and when they begin to, it’s modest (not to mention well-deserved, due to the inherent risk of starting/growing a business).

The letter also claimed that “in most cases business owners expand with the market that will one day enrich the owner and his family.” While that’s true, we’ve been stuck in a horrible economy for about seven years now. This evens the playing field between employers and employees. When the economy is how it has been recently, the employer must make more significant sacrifices than the employee because he’s in a more vulnerable position. Thus, with that risk come the riches (eventually, if at all).


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There’s barely any significant difference between government regulations small employers have now and the ones they had in 1974, a high-water year for the American middle class. It was also the year I got my first job, which was at a local gas station. Kalan, like the rest of the American middle class, is having trouble getting by because American labor is directly competing with much cheaper labor outside this country and because we are still recovering from a major recession, which was the direct result of the near-global economic implosion brought on by a deregulated American financial services industry “freed” from government rules and regulations.

Had the American middle class been better protected by government than it was when I got my first job, Kalan would be doing just fine in his business now, because he’d have a thriving middle-class clientele to buy his services.

PAUL ROZYCKI, Minneapolis