A writer suggests that Bernie Sanders' plan to tax Wall Street speculators will be difficult because it is impossible to determine what he actually means.

No, it isn't. Sanders is referring to a financial transaction tax (FTT). It simply means that a very small tax, something in the neighborhood of 1/2 percent or 1/10 percent be imposed on every stock transaction.

An FTT has numerous beneficial effects. One is that it would raise a large amount of money even though it is small because of the immense dollar volume of daily stock transactions. Another is that it would limit speculation. There are computer programs that automate buying and selling of stock in such a manner that a profit of 1/2 percent is worthwhile.

These transactions add nothing to the economy, and they would be discouraged by an FTT because of the small profit margins.

Meanwhile, an FTT would be virtually unnoticed by small investors who are buying stock for the long term. A $10,000 purchase might cost $10. To learn more, check out the website for the Center for Economic and Policy Research. A quote from that website:

The FTT is not a new idea. From 1914 to 1966, the U.S. levied a tax on stock issuances (0.1 percent in 1965) and transfers (0.04 percent). During the Great Depression, Congress more than doubled the tax to help financial recovery and job creation. Over 30 countries — including Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland and the U.K. — have some form of the FTT. Of the G20 nations, 16 have an FTT. There is a 0.5 percent tax imposed on each trade on the London Stock Exchange. In fact, the U.S. still has a very small FTT, which is used to finance the Securities and Exchange Commission.

David M. Perlman, New Hope


The night the candidates pulled the hate card

Well, we didn't learn anything new at Thursday's GOP presidential candidates' debate, but they certainly did affirm, in capital letters, that the only people they hate as much as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are each other.

They've pulled the hate card, they're flailing it wildly and it doesn't look as if they can let it go, even to debate substantively. As soon as an interesting point was made in debate, someone on that stage of enemies attacked the debater personally, promptly killing any chance of authentic deliberation.

And to their disgrace, they firmly upheld their belief in our country as a nation of scaredy-cats looking for Daddy to shout wildly at the monster under our beds so we can continue to mooch a bowl of milk and a nap in a warm lap wherever possible.

The Tea Party has denied the rest of us the opportunity to vote between two qualified, albeit differing, candidates for our next president. Today's Republican Party is an embarrassment.

Shawn Gilbert, Bloomington

• • •

Watching the Republican debate/shouting match, I was struck by the differences between Nikki Haley, who delivered the Republican response to the State of the Union address, and the angry, old men who call themselves candidates.

It's easy to be lazy when choosing your words at these debates. The consequence is that you appear to disrespect the office and the person in it. The candidates are spending far too much time running down President Obama and not near enough time explaining their own positions. Newsflash: The president is not running for a third term.

Haley, the Republican governor of South Carolina, actually took the time to explain her party's position without the nasty lack of respect we hear from thecandidates. Hopefully, people like Haley and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan are the new face of the Republican Party. The time is now for a moderate/independent third-party candidate.

Mark Veronen, Ponsford, Minn.

• • •

I am wondering what Jesus would think about the "Christian" politicians who continue to angrily encourage the U.S. to "live in fear," increasingly intervene in destructive military actions, arm ourselves as much as possible, repeal the Affordable Care Act and don't have any solutions for saving God's creation from environmental destruction.

David Councilman, Minneapolis


There's more to this story; look at permit enforcement

I, too, read Jon Tevlin's Jan. 13 column ("PCA staff e-mail stirs up Capitol"), and I would like to add a different perspective than the one in a Jan. 14 letter to the editor ("Watershed worker was trying to move, not stop, pipeline route," Readers Write). Like the writer, I have retired from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). However, unlike the writer, whom I know, I did work with Scott Lucas. Lucas and I were both in the construction stormwater program at the time of my retirement in August 2012. Our jobs were to inspect sites covered by the construction stormwater permit issued by the MPCA. When violations of that permit were found, we would also take enforcement action against the permit holder for the site. One project that Lucas took enforcement action against, due to discharges of sediment-laden water into a wetland, was against a pipeline project. Given that enforcement action, I believe Lucas was concerned about the likelihood of that happening again and wanted to ensure that measures would be taken to avoid any violations of the permit. Therefore, I would ask MPCA management, House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Gov. Mark Dayton to look into enforcement actions against all pipeline projects in Minnesota before passing any more judgment against Lucas.

Judy Mader, Stillwater


One person's boondoggle is another person's …

I have a question for state Sen. David Osmek, who is complaining about the new Minnesota Senate Building and insists that voters hold DFLers accountable for it. You see, Osmek is a Tea Party Republican. In a 2012 Republican primary, Osmek defeated then-state representative and mainstream Republican Connie Doepke in part over Doepke's support for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium, essentially calling that a boondoggle. So if that is a boondoggle, shouldn't then voters also take out the six Republican state senators who voted for that who are still in public office, too? After all, they should pay as well for that publicly financed "boondoggle," since the public contribution for U.S. Bank Stadium was $348 million and the state Senate building cost only $77 million ($100 million if including the new fees). Osmek clearly states that if you complain about one controversial, publicly financed project, you have to go after all of them and everyone who supports them. As for Vikings fans still grieving last Sunday's loss, please remember it would be the Minnesota Vikings football team heading to Los Angeles instead of the St. Louis Rams, so the Vikings and all Vikings games would have been kaput if Osmek's common sense for his so-called "standing up for the taxpayer" had his way.

William Cory Labovitch, South St. Paul