ESTATE OR DEATH TAX
Some good men were in favor of it
In his estate tax tirade ("The estate tax: Unequal, ineffective," Dec. 21), Jason Lewis writes, "Clinton's consternation over letting folks keep what they've earned over a lifetime betrays the cavalier attitude Democrats take toward property."
Let folks keep what they've earned? Yo, Jason, the people who actually earned it are dead!
The father of Libertarians, Thomas Paine, as well as Alexis de Toqueville, Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Carnegie, Warren Buffett and William Gates, Sr. all have written or spoken extensively in favor of estate taxes. Then there's Jason and the $3.5-million-isn't-really-a-lot-of-money crowd.
NICK DOLPHIN, MINNEAPOLIS
I'm sorry I have to explain this to Jason Lewis, but it's an estate tax, not a death tax; the government doesn't tax you for dying. If that were the case, poor people would live forever because they couldn't afford to die.
What it does do is tax people who never worked for the money they receive. Perhaps Lewis can explain why it all right to tax roofers, cement finishers and carpenters for doing hard, skilled, often dangerous, work that provides tangible benefits for our society but exempt from taxation people whose great-great-grandfathers were robber barons or stock swindlers. In short, he should tell me why he believes that my firefighter son should pay taxes while Paris Hilton shouldn't.
JOHN SHERMAN, MOORHEAD, MINN.
Do as she says, not as she does
Rep. Michele Bachmann is lapping it up big time at the federal trough. As someone who constantly calls government aid programs welfare, she is herself what many conservatives would call "a welfare queen." She gets a $174,000 annual salary, terrific health care and, according to Politico, between 1995 and 2006 her family farm received more than $250,000 in corn and dairy subsidies. How much of our money does she need? It appears she is milking the federal government while preaching her fiscally austere conservatism.
PAUL ABELN, BLOOMINGTON
Teams don't add much to the local economy
I find Nick Coleman's negativity on many subjects grating, but on the issue of Zygi Wilf and a new Vikings stadium I can agree with him ("When's the Tea Party on stadium plan?" Dec. 20).
There are too many studies on the economic model of sports stadiums that repudiate the myth that they are "good" for the local economy. The only entity that makes out on a state-funded stadium is the owner of the team, who avoids significant capital investment.
A letter writer states that "Coleman cannot get beyond the fact that Zygi Wilf is a billionaire." There just may be a hidden message there. He did not get to that state without managing his investments and businesses wisely, so is investing in a new stadium a wise investment or is finding a way to get the taxpayer to pay for it a wiser strategy?
BOB MAC MURDO, MINNEAPOLIS
Sid Hartman continues to tout the laurels of the New England Patriots stadium. He constantly brings up the fact that the governor of California signed an agreement to assist Los Angeles build a stadium. He says California is going to steal the Vikings if we do not watch out.
All this might be true, but I believe everyone should know the complete truth before deciding. I want a new stadium because I believe the community would benefit, but not to the extent that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf would have us believe. The Patriots stadium was completely built with private money. And the bill Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed stipulated that no state money should go toward the project. He simply signed off on a bill that allowed the stadium architects to bypass some state clearance issues to expedite the process.
Let those private entrepreneurs who wish to gamble and make money from the stadium and surrounding facilities invest their money and reap the profits. That is the American way.
BOB MINELL, COON RAPIDS
20 TIMES IS NOT THE CHARM
Take the keys away from repeat offenders
In answer to the Dec. 29 headline/question, yes, it's time -- past time, actually -- to take the keys from the St. Paul Park man who has been charged for the 20th time for drunken driving.
And while we're at it, let's also take the keys away from the woman who was driving behind me on Excelsior Boulevard who had a cell phone in her left hand, a cigarette in her right hand and was driving with her elbows.
PHYLLIS J. PETERSON, MINNEAPOLIS
It's a horrible and cynical thought, but I have a guess what it's going to take to stiffen laws and enforcement against drunk driving: A popular legislator, judge or administrator for the state will lose his or her life, or the life of a loved one, to a drunk driver. No one wants that.
JIM BARTOS, BROOKLYN PARK
LOOKING BACK AT '09
Noonan, conservatives have rewritten history
I offer this headline for the decade's most-underplayed event: "Ravaged by epidemic of amnesia, conservatives drift out of range of rescue; return to reality-based community unlikely, sources say." A recent example is Peggy Noonan's Dec. 27 commentary about damage allegedly done to the nation's character by the "cultural left."
Where was her concern, and that of her fellow conservatives, about character flaws when Republicans used "sexed-up" evidence to lead us into war? When the Bush administration told us that, waterboarding notwithstanding, "We do not torture"? Or when the cataclysmic human suffering from Katrina was glossed over with "heckuva job"?
To use Noonan's language, it is indeed an "idiot's logic" to ignore those facts and to blame our problems instead on smutty TV shows.
STEVEN SCHILD, WINONA, MINN.