The economy, the debt, women's rights


Thanks for asking, Mr. Romney ... yes, my family is better off than we were four years ago. We are a middle-class family who worked in the health care field for 35 years. We planed to retire in early 2008 but had to delay because of the falling stock market, banking and mortgage deregulation, increasing retail prices fueled by two wars, concern about job security based on corporate downsizing, and other cyclical influences to the national economy.

My wife and I were able to retire in 2010 for the following reasons: Our 401(k) savings, which had lost 35 percent of its value by 2009, was back to its high-water mark by 2010, and we were approved for a line of credit because our bank was part of the national stimulus program. I think millions of Americans have had a similar experience to that of my family over the past four years. Unemployment is not as low as everyone would like, but since we are still coming out of the Great Recession, the progress is encouraging. It took seven years for unemployment to get back to pre-Great Depression levels in that era -- and at that time job creators had not moved millions of jobs overseas.

As an independent, I think it is political folly to praise a president for everything good that happens or to assign blame for everything that goes wrong in our country. But since we are in an election cycle and that is the game that is played -- again, thanks for asking.


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Simple math is useful in determining how much of the $16 trillion national debt is ours.

According to the national Tax Foundation, there are about 140 million individual tax returns being filed yearly. In 2010, about 80 million of the approximately 140 million actually paid taxes, while many of the other 60 million who paid no taxes actually received refunds. The percentage of filers who pay no taxes has doubled in the past 20 years. Unless one believes in greenbacks from heaven, it's logical to assume that the debt ultimately rests on the shoulders of those who pay. Dividing the $16 trillion debt by 80 million filers who pay results in an average debt of $200,000.

Undoubtedly the country is heading in the wrong direction, but not everyone in Washington agrees. While some politicians believe the country is on the right path, according to national polls, two-thirds of Americans disagree. Since many of our leaders in Washington would rather kick the can down the road than solve the problem, I expect -- as a senior -- that I won't get stuck with the bill. But when the bill must be paid, and most surely that day will come, heaven help our children and grandchildren. We will not be remembered as a great generation.


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There is nothing wrong with allowing women to have the right to choice about "their bodies." However, there seems to be one thing overlooked. A "right" implies a "duty." I believe the predominance of abortions in the United States (93 percent, according to one source) are for social reasons (child is unwanted or inconvenient). For that reason it strikes me that the woman has a duty, unless she intentionally wants to get pregnant, to ensure that proper birth-control measures are in place. There may well be justifiable reasons for abortion, such as rape, incest, health, etc., but a failure to take measures to prevent pregnancy is not one of them.


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A closer look at proponents' 'freedom'


In his counterpoint about the constitutional issues raised by the marriage amendment, Robert Delahunty ("Constitution defines, but does not owe, freedom," Sept. 4) writes that "whenever the law expands the freedoms of one person or group, it necessarily contracts those of another." Sure, this has been the case with a lot of expansions of civil rights: New labor laws cost factory owners some money; workplace opportunities for women meant men had to compete with more people for jobs, and voting rights for minorities diluted the exclusive political power of white people. The loss of even an unearned privilege is still a loss. But how does this apply to the marriage amendment? If other people are denied the right to marry, I don't get any more marriage as a result.

Delahunty believes he can identify what "freedom" I'm losing: "that of living in a social world in which marriage has a particular meaning and is related in specific ways to natural reproduction and family life." That's an awfully Orwellian kind of freedom. By the same logic, the Republican Party's "economic freedom" message doesn't hold water, because it's actually a direct attack on my freedom to live in a world with higher taxes and more regulation.

I'm sorry, but vague discomfort with the existence of something is not a form of repression. Especially not when compared with the harm of denying an actual, tangible benefit to gay couples.


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Delahunty writes that he is concerned about "an important freedom ... of living in a social world" without gay marriage. How about those who prefer the freedom to live in a world with no gays at all? And no Jehovah's Witnesses? And no socialists? And no Jews?

Germany in 1933, through an "Enabling Act," amended its constitution to make such a world possible. Perhaps, as Delahunty says with respect to slavery, the "tradeoff" was not worth it in the end, but they did it anyway.

And that is yet another reason we should not allow Delahunty or his supporters anywhere near the Minnesota Constitution.


The writer was chief White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007.