Spreading the wealth: The ways and means


A recent letter supported the Romney campaign's charge that President Obama believes in "redistribution." It went on to call redistribution "un-American."

You cannot have any form of taxation that does not involve government redistributing that revenue -- to pay for national defense, roads, water, etc. That's the purpose of government.

What the writer should have said is that he opposes progressive taxation, based on ability to pay. I don't. And that is the real debate.


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One huge reason for electing Mitt Romney president is that he will spread the prosperity currently experienced in North Dakota throughout the country by developing our own oil and natural gas reserves.

Imagine the expansion of the economy if we were drilling for oil and natural gas on federal lands, and moving forward with developing pipelines and refineries.

This single action alone would help solve the unemployment issue, bring down the cost of fuel and relieve our dependence on foreign suppliers. But it's something President Obama has refused to do because of the hold radical environmentalists have on his administration.


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False equivalence in recent commentary


Ahmed Tharwat's absurd analogies ("Shouting fire in the global theater," Sept. 19) remove the credibility of the few areas of his commentary that actually make sense, unfortunately losing the point of his message. First, in no way can the 1989 fatwa on Salman Rushdie be equated to President Obama's so-called "kill-list" targeting Muslim extremists.

One guy wrote a book; the other group kills innocent people. Tharwat also wants us to believe that more mosques are attacked and more Qur'ans are burned in America than U.S. flags are burned and embassies are attacked in the Middle East. Possible, but if so, vastly underreported.

Lost in Tharwat's message, early on, is the gang mentality in which the Muslim world reacted to a film trailer, which, as he states, the majority of the protesters never saw. This problem, however, is not isolated to Muslims; fundamentalist Christians have gotten up in arms over silly books like "Harry Potter" and "The Shack," and to movies like "The Da Vinci Code" and "The Last Temptation of Christ," or to art depiction's of a cross in a jar of urine. The difference is that I know of no deaths perpetrated by the latter group.

The one area where I totally agree with the author is that while as Americans we should honor the flag as a symbol, the desecration of it -- or the desecration of the Qur'an or likeness of Mohammed, or any other man-made material item -- should not justify the taking of human life. But that is also where the article most misses the point. There should be no rationalization, no justification, no excuses, no tit for tat. All leaders must emphatically state to their followers this is 100 percent wrong. With the slightest hint or perception that there is some gray area to this belief, the conflicts and divisiveness will never end.


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Tharwat's and Thomas Freidman's recent articles tell us that complex societies often apply double standards. Tharwat notes that violence is not unique to the Islamic world, suggesting that we are hypocritical in calling Islamic societies violent without considering our own actions over the past decade. Friedman notes that respect is a two-way street. He says Americans publicly denounce intolerance, whereas hate speech is a fixture in some Arab/Muslim mass media. Both writers ask us to consider our own societies before condemning the words and actions of others.

Lacking is commentary on why these ideas are important to our societies. There has been extensive critique on freedom of speech but little on why it is valued in American society. American media has been quick to point out the rights enshrined in our legal system but slow to explain why they are important to the functioning of our society and government. Having lived the past 15 years in Muslim societies, I have enjoyed firsthand Islamic respect and tolerance for other traditions. However, not enough is said on why this tolerance is meaningful in Islamic society. We often hear about the proximity of Islam to public life and governance. Yet little is offered on its significance and why it would explain, in part, recent events.

We have a responsibility to consider the importance of the central issues -- freedom, respect, tolerance -- and to help each other understand why they are central to our respective traditions.


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You are cordially invited to drop cash


There appears to be a trend among retailers and service providers to now refer to their customers as guests, as Regis Corp. now does (Lee Schafer column, Sept. 19.)

The primary definition of "guest" is a person who spends some time at another person's home in some social activity -- to visit, to have dinner or to attend a party. There are related definitions as well, but none where a profit is made on that person.

I find it interesting how the definition of words are being changed to suit particular interests. Maybe it is all about feeling good about oneself.