ID for voters is really no big deal

Mike Dean's Feb. 7 column makes the process of obtaining some sort of proof of identity seem much more cumbersome and onerous than it, in fact, is. It's handled by the office that issue driver's licenses, even for identity-only cards. They're everywhere.

Unnecessary? If Dean objects to the concept of proving who he is, he'll have to be selective in his aggravation.

If I want to get on an airplane, I have to show government-issued ID. If I use my credit card (marked "ask id" for security), I'll be pulling out my driver's license. If I'm headed for Canada, I'll be asked for a passport or equivalent, going and coming. Want to cash a check while out and about? Pick up a phoned-in prescription? Guess what?

Too costly, Mr. Dean? The website shows charges starting at 50 cents for disabled folks and peaking at about $16, good for five years. I believe I can handle that without too much trouble. How about you?

Perhaps voter fraud is a small problem in our current election process. Perhaps we don't know, since we have no way to determine who's who. Please don't turn this into some sort of Kafkaesque plot: The only question is whether or not someone is eligible for the privilege of exercising the right to vote, or to cash a check, or to board a plane.

PETER DISCENZA, EAGAN

Much ado about Michael Phelps

I think it is strange how shocked and outraged people have been over the picture of young Michael Phelps smoking pot. Let's get some perspective here. He is an amazing athlete, who accomplished an amazing goal at the Olympics. Now, like it or not, he did something that most 23 year olds have done.

Take him off the pedestal; let him be. Save the outrage for the athletes who date rape young women, drive drunk and beat their wives.

LESLIE SATER, MINNEAPOLIS

Finding fiscal responsibility religion

A Feb. 7 letter writer makes a ridiculous comparison in claiming the Obama administration is using "fear" to sell the economic stimulus package. He writes, "Aren't these the same people who criticized the Bush administration for creating fear in the American public to gain support for the administration's terrorism policies?"

The writer needed only to look at the front page of that day's business section to see the difference. The headline read, "600,000 join jobless" for the month of January. The difference is very clear: The current administration is telling the truth while the former told lies about WMDs so they could line the pockets of Halliburton, Blackwater and the like, with hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars in Iraq. Why now are the current obstructionists so worried about money being spent right here in their own country? This group wasn't at all concerned with fiscal responsibility for the past eight years.

BOB STEINLE, EDEN PRAIRIE

Digital TV conversion

So now the truth is told about this digital TV conversion. Our government made $20 billion by selling off the analog airwaves to the wireless phone companies and cable companies primarily. Must have been some strong lobbying going on by the wireless and cable companies.

The good news is the $20 billion will help pay off our debt, but the bad news is 6.5 American households still have not made the conversion, and many of those are probably households of the poor and elderly who even with an extension to June will not have the money or ability to make the conversion. Washington could not have picked a worse time for this folly.

JERILYN SHEARER, GLENCOE

Any courage to be found in St. Paul?

Jay Kiedrowski's column ("Accounting gimmicks won't fix the budget," Feb. 6) could not be more on target. His proposed budget fix should be obvious to anyone with a reasonably well-developed sense of financial and social responsibility. Alas, he left out the one ingredient that, unfortunately, he alone cannot provide: the courage to take appropriate if unpopular action in a crisis.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty is the type of knee-jerk ideologue that got us into this mess. He clearly lacks the clarity of thought, the vision and the courage to do the right thing. Perhaps the Legislature can find its voice, but I'm not holding my breath.

JOHN F. HETTERICK, PLYMOUTH

Targeting podiatrists: penny-wise and pound-foolish

Buried in the middle of the governor's budget is a proposal to remove podiatry from state health plans. His supposition is that this move would save the state several hundred thousand dollars per year. I suppose that using the same logic, he could recommend removing ob-gyn doctors from state health plans, and he would then expect women to not have babies.

People will continue to have foot and ankle problems, Governor, and when they do, they will simply go to another provider, be it an ER, urgent care, their family doctor or an orthopedic surgeon. The question you need to answer is, who is better qualified? These providers will then bill for the care, and you will pay just as much (or more) for the same result. What you are doing is removing patient choice. The real losers will be the patients, who I hope will remember at the ballot box.

ROBERT GJERTSON, FRIDLEY