Fight drug war at its true source: addiction
This week President Obama is hosting a state dinner for Mexican President Felipe Calderon ("Obama, Calderon lambaste Arizona law," May 20). High on their agenda is the Merida Initiative: a Bush-era program to fund Mexico's "war on drugs."
Through Merida, more than $1.4 billion of our taxes have already been dumped into this losing war. Despite a nearly tenfold increase in U.S. funding for Mexico's military and police, drug-related violence in Mexico continues to soar, claiming more than 20,000 lives since 2006. Now Congress is deciding whether to give the faltering counternarcotics program another year and $310 million of life.
But has a single life been spared from Mexico's drug-related violence because we bought eight Black Hawk helicopters for the Mexican military? Has a single person in the United States been weaned off cocaine addiction by Merida's gift of night-vision goggles to Mexico's police?
Failing strategies should be replaced, not perpetuated.
We need to attack the root of the problem: U.S. demand. So long as addicts in our community continue to provide an ample market for cocaine, cartels in Tijuana will kill to control that market. Congress should learn from past failures and divert Merida's millions to proven demand reduction programs at home.
The peaceful future that violence-stricken Mexicans seek cannot be found in the barrel of a gun, but in a well-funded U.S. drug rehab clinic.
LUKE BORKENHAGEN, MINNEAPOLIS
• • •
By what authority does the president of Mexico have the audacity to criticize the federal government's and Arizona's laws on immigration into our country?
Mexico has tight laws to control entrance to its borders, with many of these laws far exceeding our own.
Perhaps President Felipe Calderon should concentrate on making Mexico a safe, secure and prosperous place for its citizens rather than pandering to politics.
Mexican economic progress should solve the immigration of those seeking a better life.
JUDY SIEVE, APPLE VALLEY
Find a better way for those who served city
As the son of a retired Minneapolis police officer who served his city with honor for 25 years, I am astounded by Judge Janet Poston's ruling that the police and fire pension funds must collect up to $60,000 from each of these now elderly retirees ("Judge orders pension giveback," May 19).
My parents, now well into their 70s, live a very modest life and rely on my dad's police pension as their sole source of income. Having already seen them take a 12 percent cut earlier this year, I find it hard to fathom where they will come up with $60,000 through a one-time payment or even a reduction of future benefits.
City Council Budget Committee chairwoman Betsy Hodges' statement that "it's another good outcome for the city" is particularly outrageous and demonstrates a huge disconnect between her budget "victory" and the reality for these retirees and widows who now face a huge financial burden.
My dad and his fellow police and fire department retirees paid their dues with sweat, blood and tears while protecting the citizens of this great city. Sadly, all too many of my dad's colleagues never got to retirement because they were killed on the job.
Isn't it time for common sense to prevail to find a way to let these honored city servants and widows keep their modest pensions?
Mayor R.T. Rybak, they deserve much better. Find a way.
BOB DUNN, SAVAGE
Unions helped stop gender discrimination
A May 19 letter writer said, "I worked 44 years as a nurse, and I strongly believe that nurses are professional and have no business belonging to a union."
If this individual did work in nursing for that long, he or she is surely aware that women nurses, like women in other professions such as teaching, were forced out of their careers once they married. It is precisely because of such discriminatory practices that these professionals joined unions.
The letter writer's contempt for unions shows profound disrespect to all those who uphold the integrity, safety and security of their professions by organizing.
PAUL HIGGINS, EDEN PRAIRIE
Where was Tea Party during the Bush years?
I have a question for all the indignant Tea Party people, led by people like Kentucky's Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul, who "have come to take our government back" ("Voters deliver powerful message to incumbents," May 19). Where were you when President George W. Bush was taking it from you and giving it to the top 1 percent? Where were you when waging an illegal war against Iraq put our country into this massive debt?
President Obama has continued many of the same policies and is governing as a moderate, old-school Republican. If you could see him that way, maybe you wouldn't be so crazed against his administration. Maybe you could instead go home and put all that misdirected energy into improving your communities and schools.
J.L. CHARRIER, WAYZATA
After service lie, is he up to Senate standards?
Connecticut senatorial candidate Richard Blumenthal told voters he served in Vietnam when he never did ("Democrat defends 'misplaced words' on service," May 19).
A miserable liar like him could never succeed in the U.S. Congress.
That's a league for professionals.
ED SALDEN, CHASKA