A recent letter writer was wondering if the 2017 tax cuts really are “working” and how (“So the tax cuts ‘worked.’ At doing what?” Nov. 26). As a small-business owner, allow me to share exactly how they are working: Yes, big companies got an income tax reduction (designed to make the U.S. corporate tax rate competitive with the rest of the world.) But small-business owners like me (I have one full-time employee) also got a tax cut. So here’s how my business and family are handling the increased cash flow from paying less in federal income taxes:

1) We had to borrow less to finish paying our youngest son’s college tuition.

2) Our home is almost 30 years old, and we needed to replace some windows and do other deferred maintenance. With less money going to taxes, we’ve been able to spend some of that on fixing our home (which provides income to the contractors doing the work).

3) We were able to continue our planned charitable giving, while paying off some other bills and debt.

4) We are able to keep paying our employee increased wages — and 100% of their growing health insurance expense.

We can debate whether big companies needed a tax break (but Medtronic, and others, didn’t relocate to Ireland for nothing); but what is undeniable is that for small-business owners like me, sending less money to Washington, D.C., has enabled us to use those funds for all sorts of things. And that is definitely good for the economy — both here in Minnesota and around the country.

Scott Rollin, Victoria, Minn.

PRESIDENTIAL PARDONS

Trump sells out military justice for a 2020 re-election stunt

It was recently reported in the Daily Beast that President Donald Trump is hoping the three war criminals he just pardoned will join him on the campaign trail in 2020. As a veteran, that is so far over the line I almost can’t believe it. I now understand why he pardoned them, not because he actually thought they were wronged but to use them during his re-election campaign (“Trump meddles in military justice,” editorial, Nov. 23).

Not only has he created a problem within the military regarding command and control, ignored long-held civil law on war crimes and excused blatant photographic evidence that Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher violated laws against being pictured beside a killed enemy — he did it to benefit his political future.

Trump claims he is a strong supporter of the military and veterans. But using military criminals he pardoned so he could have them bolster his re-election campaign is even lower than I could imagine. He isn’t worth the air he breathes.

Dale Trippler, Blaine

HEALTH CARE

Until laws pass, do what you can

No matter who is elected president in 2020, health care will be legislated and “bestowed” upon us. Whatever the results, some people will be happy, some people won’t care at all, and a significant number, once again, will not have coverage. Complaining will still be commonplace. As a retired physician, I raise an issue of how we as individuals can best proceed. The Affordable Care Act (gosh, how I miss President Barack Obama) has been a small step but influential and successful and in the correct direction. But do we wait for legislation? Or, do we take some responsibility for our individual health, the health of others and the health of the planet?

It’s easy to identify enemies with the current health care system. Realistically, the dilemma often translates into following the money: Big Pharma isn’t going away any time soon. Big Insurance isn’t going to disappear either. We all are aware of the statistics regarding how much the U.S. spends on health care and how dismally we perform in matters of actual health.

As individuals, there are ways of effecting change in a positive direction and without waiting for legislators and executives to tell us what is “best and correct.” If smokers took a self-appointed step and decreased their nicotine behavior by 50%, for example, they would certainly be healthier. If they didn’t smoke anywhere in the presence of children, childhood respiratory illnesses would decrease significantly. If drinkers cut their consumption by half and even half of pregnant women didn’t drink, there would be fewer cases of alcoholic liver disease and fetal alcohol syndrome. There are numerous scenarios where we could respond as individuals: Drive a little less, eat a little less, take prescribed medications a little more.

If people become healthier, even by small increments, financial bonuses such as decreased health care costs and spending and increased personal savings will follow.

I truly feel that universal health coverage is the fair and ultimate goal, but, assuredly, it will take further small steps to get there. Smart politicians should play politics only with themselves and back off on strict Medicare for All now in deference to something more easily achieved and utilitarian in a measured future. Though that process is a ways away, it’s still in our lifetimes. And, it demands that we as individuals act to take some element of responsibility. Why wait for change when we can change?

Paul Waytz, Minneapolis

LUNCH MONEY

Shame can motivate kids, though

I too see the lunch-shaming situation as outrageous (“Kids need lunch. How is this hard?” Readers Write, Nov. 21), though for different reasons. School is supposed to teach our kids more than the three R’s — also how to deal with life’s hurdles. In addition to what the parents should be instilling, schools should be enforcing the concept of responsibility from day one. If a child is not taught to be responsible, then you are going to end up with an irresponsible adult who is unable to pay bills, hold a job, clean up after themselves and be reliant on the government for survival. Shame is a great motivator for all manner of behaviors. Not only is shame used to teach one not to burp aloud or pass gas in public, but to be responsible when it comes to having your lunch money.

There are a few main reasons for a child’s lunch account being deficient. The child either forgot to tell their parents that money was needed, forgot to bring it with them, or the parent is at fault because they don’t have the money/are gaming the system. In the first case, putting a stamp on the kid’s hand is an excellent way to remind the kid to either bring in their lunch money the next day or alert their parents that their account is low. The child will learn that if they don’t want to be ashamed, they need to be more responsible, a lesson that can be utilized throughout their adult lives.

If it’s the parents fault, perhaps they need to apply for assistance or be evaluated to see if they are even fit parents, because after all, it’s their responsibility to raise their own children, not mine.

And what’s wrong with eating a cold lunch? The child should feel lucky that they got anything at all — even though missing a meal isn’t going to harm them! A cold lunch is all I ever had growing up, not because we were poor but because the kitchen at the school didn’t meet my mother’s cleanliness standards. My lunch came from home.

What’s next, no more grades in school because we wouldn’t want little Johnny to be ashamed that he got a C?

Bret R. Collier, Big Lake

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