It has little to do with Minnesota's Senate race

In "Minnesota's high court may not be the last word" (front page, April 13), the Star Tribune speculated on yet another scenario by which Norm Coleman could drag out the Senate election. Coleman, the article claims, could delay a resolution for months more by appealing to federal courts on "equal protection" grounds.

The Constitution in Article I, Section 5 gives the Senate, not the courts, the responsibility to be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members.

With its constitutional apportionment of two senators for every state regardless of population, the Senate was designed to deny equal protection and representation.

According to the 2000 census, the 493,782 residents of Wyoming have two senators, and so do the 33,871,648 residents of California. That is not equal protection. The 4,919,479 residents of Minnesota still have only one senator. That is not equal protection either, and it has gone on long enough.



Don't ease state rules for becoming a teacher

Would you trust your body to a surgeon who had only a bachelor's degree and 200 hours of training?

An education omnibus bill currently before the Legislature would allow a person to become a teacher without student teaching and without many of the currently required courses. Our students should expect their teachers to have years of training in pedagogy and content. This legislation will allow participants to become teachers after completing a short five-week course. This is not in the best interest of our students.

Minnesota has always been a national model for public education, in part because of the high standards our state has placed on education, curriculum and teacher licensing.

Some argue that this legislation will allow districts flexibility in hiring for difficult-to-fill positions such as science, math and special education. This year thousands of excellent teachers may be losing their jobs because of budget cuts. There will be no shortage of teachers.



Armed ships and crews could repel attacks

I know there are regulations about arming civilian ships, but these frequent attacks on freighters and privately owned ships in certain areas of the world have to stop. Paying money to groups involved in piracy and probable terrorism is deranged; the easiest way to stop the attacks would be to protect these ships so they aren't boarded in the first place.

If the governments of the respective nations will not protect their ships or the ships passing through or near their waters, then I advocate the training and arming of the crew and ships. A minimum of small arms and a couple of larger guns, mobile, for the ships would repel these pirates before they can even make it to the ship. With a few lookouts these ships could stop these pirates before they ever even come close to taking over the ship.

If we do not put our foot down and stop this now this problem is only going to get worse and innocent people will continue to get hurt/captured.



The Somali pirates were criminals, but they should not have been executed in such a shameful manner. The lifeboat was in tow, and one pirate was on board the navy ship negotiating terms of release. The captain was tied up in the lifeboat. The pirates lowered their guard and were shot by snipers. In effect, they were shot under a "flag of truce."

We lost patience and broke a long-standing tradition of proper actions under a truce situation. This is not that far removed from the torture of prisoners under the Bush administration.

In time, I'm sure we could have secured the captain's release in a more honorable way.



Government should also learn to make do

After completing our taxes over the past weekend, I calculated that the combination of federal, state, Medicare, Social Security and real estate taxes amounted to 34.7 percent of our gross income. This doesn't include gas, sales, utility and whatever other taxes are heaped on us over the course of the year.

In my opinion, we live comfortably, but we certainly aren't rich. At what point are we paying enough, or too much? To those who would propose higher and more taxes, I say enough. The government should do what it can, with what it has, just like we do.



An April 10 letter writer is concerned about the fairness of taxing people who use the legal system to help defray costs of operating the system itself. There is already a strong state precedent for collecting taxes to fund specific social services and then using those collected funds for entirely different causes.

Minnesota since 1992 has mandated health care workers to collect a 2 percent "provider tax" from most patients using medical and dental services, often under emergency circumstances and for required chronic care. These moneys were supposed to fund the MinnesotaCare system for low-income and uninsured patients, and help ensure the good health of our state population. However, state health service funding continues to be reduced drastically, as these lush health care access funds are drained to balance the general budget.