As we near the next legislative session, we need to look around the country to see what is happening. Compromise is a dirty word. It has become take-no-prisoners legislating. In Wisconsin and Michigan, one party can’t win at the ballot box so it attempts to take power away from those that beat it. In other states, one party attempts to squash, cheat, subvert the vote of the people — if you can’t win at the ballot box, try to take away the vote from those who will likely vote against you.

Here in Minnesota, the Legislature has turned to huge bills covering hundreds of subjects in hopes of getting bad legislation through. Heaven forbid our own Legislature should follow our own state Constitution, which calls for one-subject bills.

I like to think we are better than all of that. My hope is that our elected officials are above party first and return to what is best for all Minnesotans. We used to govern that way — let’s return to those days.

Tom Krueger, Crystal

• • •

Elections have consequences — unless you live in Wisconsin (and apparently also in Michigan and Arizona).

Steve Fager, Lakeville


If people are old enough to vote, why not allow tobacco purchases?

As I read about another city raising the legal age of purchasing tobacco to 21 (“Eden Prairie raises legal age to buy tobacco to 21,” Dec. 6), it gives me pause to wonder why our governing bodies are sending a mixed message. We consider people who reach the age of 18 adults capable of making life-altering decisions such as joining the military or being tried for crimes as an adult, but consider them too immature to make their own determination what to put into their bodies, such as alcohol and tobacco.

It seems as though we are slowly walking back the Family Law Reform Act passed in 1969, changing the legal age of adulthood from 21 to 18. Playing devil’s advocate, I submit that the legal age should be changed to 21 across the board. If we don’t consider these individuals capable of making life decisions, then how can we consider them adult enough to vote? How can you grant some of the rights of adulthood and deny others? It should be all or nothing.

That being said, I do feel these individuals are capable of voting at age 18 and accordingly should be granted all the other rights of adulthood they are increasingly being denied. Unfortunately, we have gone too far down the rabbit hole and really don’t see this happening, so the only alternative to maintain continuity would be to move the legal age of adulthood back to 21.

James Jacobson, Howard Lake, Minn.

Election 2020

As presidential candidates emerge, consider the ‘Peter Principle’

Since we are already seeing numbers of possible candidates “exploring” the possibility of a presidential run, it may be time to remind ourselves of the “Peter Principle,” which observes that in any organization people “tend to rise to their level of incompetence.” In other words, a person is advanced based on his or her success in previous positions until reaching a level at which they are no longer competent, because skills in one job do not necessarily translate to those in a different one.

I don’t know about you, but I can think of a few examples of people who should have reflected on that.

Bill Hilty, Finlayson, Minn.

The writer is a retired Minnesota state representative.

Campaign 2018

Nation’s politics followed traveler all the way to Africa

A trip to east and southern Africa in the last weeks of campaign 2018 was a welcome opportunity to “leave the village politics and personalities,” as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it. I rubbed shoulders with Tanzanians, black and white South Africans, English, Swiss, Germans, Swedes, Brazilians, Jews and some of the world’s poorest people in Eswatini and Lesotho.

It was hard to escape their politics and the worldwide interest in ours. Brazilians were scared to death of electing their own version of President Donald Trump (they have), Brits wrung their hands over Brexit (they still do) and Germans fretted about overwhelming immigration. Only the Swedish family I met seemed truly content. But all of us, without exception, were distressed about the situation in Washington and its effect on the world.

I chatted with a B&B owner in Clarens, South Africa, and asked how he copes with the peculiarities of all the nationalities and cultures he hosts. “I have to prepare myself for the Germans,” he offered. I asked, “What about Americans? How do you characterize us?” He answered without hesitation: “Americans are fearful.”

Back home, I read Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear,” including the Trump quote that inspired the title: “Real power — I don’t even want to use the word — is fear,” as any number of the world’s despots could have put it.

Ron Carlson, Lake St. Croix Beach


Amid concerns about gun crimes, do hunting pictures go too far?

The Random House College Dictionary defines pornography as “obscene literature, art, or photography, esp. that having little or no artistic merit.”

The Star Tribune ran photos of children holding weapons over dead animals. On many Facebook pages, there are warnings about objectionable content that the user has to opt in to see. The number of hunters in the U.S. is at an all-time low at the same time gun deaths and crimes are on the rise. As a resident of north Minneapolis, I am dismayed that these photos are allowed to be shown. If a group of young neighborhood children stood around displaying weaponry, would you publish it or decry it?

Bruce M. Olson, Minneapolis


Even if leaders relocate residents of homeless camp, issue remains

I know that many Minneapolis and Minnesota residents are troubled and concerned by the presence of the Franklin-Hiawatha encampment in recent months. This “tent city” sprang up for several reasons, including that many of its residents do not want to utilize the emergency shelter system as it stands now. I commend Minneapolis on its response and working toward housing these residents; however, I feel it is important to note that homelessness has been an issue before the emergence of the encampment and it will be after the encampment vanishes from our immediate view.

The encampment is a visual manifestation of a pervasive problem that has been a hidden part of our community for many years. I urge Minnesota residents not to forget that homelessness exists, even if it is not visible to you, and it hasn’t gone away.