I have to take the Star Tribune Editorial Board (and by extension, Gov. Mark Dayton) to task for the June 12 editorial “Time to give licenses to all immigrants.” Logically, any driver, citizen or not, will be inherently more dangerous to others if not properly trained before being permitted to drive on Minnesota roads, as the editorial argues. But allowing undocumented aliens to apply for, and receive, a Minnesota driver’s license, regardless of the training involved, is wrong on many levels.
First, the Editorial Board uses the phrase “undocumented immigrants,” granting more legitimacy than deserved to that group of people. Immigrants go through a legal process for entry into the U.S., without which they are illegal aliens. By choosing to allow illegal aliens to legally obtain a driver’s license, the state will have, at a minimum, tacitly given approval for past illegal actions, namely crossing the border into the U.S. illegally. Would you wish to grant a permit to carry a gun to someone who has committed an armed robbery previously?
On another level, the governor is so concerned with granting licenses to illegal aliens, but we as a state have done little or nothing about distracted driving or about driving while under the influence of substances other than alcohol. These issues likely maim and kill many more people than do “untrained” illegal aliens. This is clearly more of an effort for Dayton to enact his policy desires than addressing a legitimate safety concern.
Governor, you, the Legislature and indeed the Editorial Board need to focus on the real safety issues we face. Perhaps one day, if and when the entirety of the immigration reform debate is settled, we can address the fairly minor issue of training unlicensed former illegal aliens to drive and granting them licenses. But that day is definitely not today.
Richard Rivett, Chaska
THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY
Praise from around the table
Monday’s Trump administration Cabinet meeting provided an interesting lesson in psychology. The leader of the most powerful nation on Earth is so painfully insecure yet powerful enough to turn a group of successful men and women into lemmings and lap dogs (“Cabinet pays tribute to Trump,” June 13). The only exception, not surprisingly, was Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who refuses to be cowed and remains true to himself.
Ned Kantar, Minneapolis
The idea of spreading the risk
While the U.S. Senate discusses the latest health care bill behind closed doors, I am at the clinic. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2005 and get an infusion every eight weeks. This medication has helped keep the condition under control, and I haven’t had any problems in years.
The sticker price for each infusion is around $12,000. I didn’t ask for it to cost that much, but that’s what it costs. From a dollars-and-cents perspective, no insurance company would ever deal with me if they didn’t have to. I’ve been lucky to have good coverage, but would rather not have to depend on luck.
I don’t have all the answers about how to best pay for health care (though many other countries seem to have a handle on this), but I would note that both insurance and government are just tools to organize ourselves with our neighbors, supposedly for the common good. Healthy people pay insurance premiums, and wealthy people pay taxes, to help pay costs that the sick or poor can’t afford on their own. Call it what you want, but when you take away the paperwork it’s just about looking out for each other.
If you’re only concerned about your personal costs and benefits, keep in mind that the odds of having an expensive health care issue at some point in your life are roughly 100 percent. You might also appreciate some good neighbors on that day.
Greg Murphy, Minneapolis
Why perception is reality
Lisa Tibbitts’ June 13 commentary “The risk of death is lower than you probably imagine” indicates that the risk of being killed during an arrest or police encounter is extremely small. While she does touch upon the human aspects of risk perception, it is critical to expand upon how risk is perceived to put these data in proper perspective, especially given the highly charged nature of the topic.
The perception of risk is a well-understood scientific phenomenon and the subject of numerous popular books. The oft-cited example is that we perceive the risk of dying in an airplane accident as being higher than in a car accident even though the opposite is true. How we perceive risk is determined by a combination of cultural and socioeconomic factors, including history, degree of control and severity of the outcome. That is, our beliefs and behavior are based on perception of facts, and not on the facts themselves. For the friends, families and communities who have lost a loved one due to a police shooting, perception is reality! Confirmed scientific study predicts that they will perceive the risk of a police encounter as high and behave accordingly. This is not based on ignorance of facts, or unjustified paranoia, but rather is a predictable and scientifically proven reaction to the circumstances of their lives.
Steven M. Pine, Hopkins
PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, PART ONE
A leadership nudge is needed
Hmm ... Americans own big houses, so it was not really a big deal that President Donald Trump backed our country out of the Paris Climate Agreement. That is the implausible argument of Cynthia M. Allen (“Want to get serious about the climate?” Opinion Exchange, June 12). Her “many Americans, especially on Twitter” who buy a hybrid car and lament the enormous vacuum in American leadership caused by this incredibly dense administration doesn’t make sense to her. And although I agree 100 percent that we Americans use too much and waste too much, that is precisely the reason for strength and leadership at the top to help us navigate the reality of what is ahead. Good grief — just because a thing is hard never used to mean Americans would weasel out of it! We would find a way to figure it out, improve it, and either share or sell it so others could also benefit. Conservation is absolutely a key element, but we can’t compost our way out of global warming. Working with the rest of the world is the only way forward. Shame on Trump for running scared.
Cheryll Bailey, St. Paul
PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, PART TWO
‘What was right in their own eyes’
While reading Charles Lane’s June 12 commentary “Social-issue politics a new battleground,” in which he explores the slackening of moral restraints and the weakening of social taboos in the country and world, the words from the biblical book of Judges kept echoing in my mind: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” The statement is repeated four times in the closing chapters of that book, which describes the moral and spiritual decline of Israel as it spiraled downward toward self-destruction. The concluding story portrays the near-total annihilation of the tribe of Benjamin by the other tribes of Israel, and dramatically ends with the already thrice-stated words: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” No conclusions, just a poignant observation.
Richard Gist, Princeton, Minn.