POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS

Pulpit should be used for spiritual messages

Now it seems a common practice in campaigning to use church services to get across political messages. When pastors start endorsing candidates, then maybe it's time to remove their church's tax-exempt status.

Unless, of course, the separation of church and state does not apply to born-again Republicans.

ANDREA BENDER, EDINA

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WISCONSIN ELECTION

People disagree on what outcome means

Many people said the Wisconsin recall election was a referendum on the rights of public-sector workers. So what do you think of that referendum now? To me, it was a huge, humiliating defeat for the political left and for unions.

SANDRA KAY, ELGIN, MINN.

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Since Minnesotans have been forced to watch a barrage of commercials for the Wisconsin recall elections, I would like to send some information back to the Badger State.

As long as Scott Walker is governor, I plan to avoid spending any money in Wisconsin. I see the actions he took to eliminate collective bargaining rights as a major slash at the middle class and a threat to union workers in every state.

Politicians are talking jobs, but we don't hear much about what a job really should offer. Does it provide a decent wage to buy adequate health and life insurance?

Does it provide enough income to set aside money for a car, a house, a child's advanced schooling or a vacation away from home? A method to fight an unfair treatment by an employer? Does it provide a plan for a comfortable retirement?

My experience with public-employee unions shows that members are our neighbors. They participate in honest union elections and set goals through councils and representative assemblies.

Education unions help students by providing consistency in the workplace through a working agreement that's negotiated and addresses the needs of all parties in a system.

Public-sector unions have helped millions of middle-class workers achieve goals that have made this country great. Removing collective bargaining by public employees ignores the rights and contributions of dedicated workers.

States that follow Walker's misdirection will lose my respect and my travel dollar.

REN HOLLAND, LITTLE FALLS, MINN.

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THE ECONOMY

U.S. is in a mess that won't be easily fixed

Yes, the economy does need stimulus, and spending by consumers is one means of that stimulus ("The economy needs ... you," Aug. 10). However, low consumer confidence is merely a symptom.

Low consumer income, which has not kept up with the rising cost of living, is the disease. The pathogen that causes that disease is corporate and personal greed.

Let's end the real "entitlement" programs in this country: obscene salaries and benefits for those who think their titles -- CEO, CFO, etc. -- entitle them to hundreds of times what the real wealth creators (i.e., labor) makes.

Put money back in the hands of those who will spend it and stimulate the economy -- those who have earned the wealth but who have not received it.

Decades of tax cuts for business and industry haven't created jobs. Why do we think that further cuts will someday produce a different result?

Demand for products and services is what creates jobs, not tax cuts for businesses. Close the massive corporate tax loopholes. Stop providing incentives for companies to move jobs out of the United States.

We need not just jobs in this country, but jobs that pay well. That's what will build consumer confidence and stimulate the economy.

RAE BUSCH, GARDEN CITY, MINN.

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I'm all for the flat tax ("The modified flat tax: A model for fairness," Aug. 10). "Simplify" wins in my book. But what will happen to the tax preparation industry?

Just as I wish the war industry would be required to file peace conversion plans, how about a conversion plan for our brainy, out-sized tax preparation industry?

BARBARA VAILE, MINNEAPOLIS

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Normally Charles Krauthammer is a bit too far to the ultra-right for my tastes. However, the steps he outlines are the right solution to debt crisis ("Three steps to solve the debt," Aug. 8).

They contain a balanced mix of entitlement adjustments and revenue increases that will give heartburn to each party.

 It's the only plan I've heard that's smart, gets the job done and could conceivably get enough Democratic and Republican votes to pass.

But with the lack of leadership in Washington nowadays, I won't be holding my breath.

HAROLD ROBERTS, PRIOR LAKE

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TIM PAWLENTY

The name of his health care plan is up for grabs

A recent article referenced the flip-flopping of Tim Pawlenty on health care. It referred to his current stance as "Pawlentycare." I submit there is no such thing. To the extent he has any plan, my view is: "I-don't-care."

JIM MICHELS, PLYMOUTH

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VIKINGS STADIUM

Don't call a special session to make deal

What will be the state's cost, per day, to fund a special session of the Minnesota Legislature?

The purpose of the proposed special session is to discuss taxpayer support for building a playground for a billion-dollar industry.

The NFL track record supports few annual tax-paying, living-wage Minnesota jobs beyond playground construction.

Isn't it better to first analyze who provides new and long-term meaningful, tax-paying jobs and find ways too support them?

JOHN M. SCANLAN, WEST ST. PAUL