I agree with the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association that Minnesota should not legalize silencers.

The silencer manufacturers’ association is a main proponent of this bill, and it makes two mutually exclusive, unsubstantiated claims:

One, it claims without any medical data to back the assertion, that silencers are effective in protecting hearing. (It admits that shooters would still need to use ear protection.) Two, it claims, without evidence, that silencers’ effect on the sound of a gunshot is so insignificant that it would not affect Minneapolis’ crime-fighting Shot Spotter technology, which relies on sound to pinpoint the source of a gunshot.

The manufacturers would like us to forget the history of silencers’ use to commit murder and get away with it. That is why the federal government began regulating silencers in 1934. The gun lobby is engaged in a state-by-state campaign to make the devices easier to get, opening new markets for itself without regard for public safety. The Legislature should reject H.F. 1434.

Joan Peterson, Duluth

The writer is president of Protect Minnesota: Working to End Gun Violence.

WAGES

If comparisons are in order, let’s make them complete

Anytime there’s a discussion about minimum wage and pay inequity, one side will always bring up the example of CEO pay (“You probably don’t need to be reminded, but … comparisons,” Readers Write, March 26). In this case, the writer compares the hourly wage of a waitperson with the compensation of the CEOs of Ecolab and Ameriprise Financial.

Now, please do not think that I am belittling a waitperson. But his or her job is to get the correct food order to the customer in a timely fashion.

Ecolab is a global company, with 72,000 employees and revenues of $14 billion. Ameriprise Financial has 14,000 employees and $11 billion in revenue. The CEOs are responsible for the success of their corporations. Since both companies are publicly traded, the CEO is responsible to all investors to return a profit for their investments. They are responsible to all employees to keep their companies successful. The CEO interacts with all of the customers, to ensure that they remain customers. In the case of Ecolab, a global company, the CEO travels to all of their facilities. The success of the corporation transfers to the success of all of its suppliers.

So if you are going to do as the March 26 letter’s headline implies, let’s compare more than just money. Let’s also look at the responsibilities, personal investments and job duties, just to be fair.

Mike McLean, Richfield

• • •

I find it interesting that in the debate over the wages of tipped employees, the pool of money that constitutes what each customer decides to voluntarily tip on each transaction, over which restaurant owners have no control, is treated as if it were the owners’ pool of money to analyze for business costs. I find it inappropriate that voluntary contributions above the listed price are being used as justification for lowering wages and that some restaurant owners are trying to enlist the state’s help to save on labor expenses that every business has to account for (“GOP targets minimum wage,” March 24). I think that the focus should be on costs that owners are directly responsible for and that their business acumen should be used to maximize efficiency in other ways instead of taking the shortcut of having the government do it on the backs of employees.

Vlad Ryaboy, Minnetonka

• • •

My husband and I, former restaurant owners, see no difference between the climate science deniers and the people who are denying how much money tipped workers make per hour. As Democrats refuse to look at facts, statistics and actual numbers, and choose instead to compare restaurant owners to the CEO of Ameriprise, they make themselves look naive and stupid.

I keep hearing “average of $8.63 per hour.” You find me the labor code that separates tipped workers from other nontipped hospitality workers. When I found $8.63 in the JOBS NOW position paper, I hunted down the author of the cited report. I asked if there was a way to find out how many of the 350,000 minimum-wage workers in Minnesota were tipped workers. He assured me there is no labor category that tracks tipped workers separately from dishwashers or other low-wage earners in the hospitality industry. Period. Ain’t there.

Since listening to the majority of scientists — er, I mean, restaurant owners — who actually run businesses or to honest people who have chosen serving jobs because it’s the highest-paying non-degreed part-time job a person can have is unacceptable to Democrats, can we just use common sense? Think about how you tip and how restaurants staff (tipped workers work when there are enough customers to justify their being there). Do you really believe that, on average over a shift during which a server has two, three or four tables an hour (or a barista serves four cups of coffee per hour), all four customers cumulatively, hour after hour, tip less than a buck?

If tipped workers were tracked separately, taxable income numbers would prove that — across the state, across all categories of restaurants — they consistently make far more than $12 an hour. Yes, even baristas.

Naomi Williamson, Fridley

 

STATE BUDGET

Inflation matters, and we must account for it across the board

Mark Haveman’s March 25 counterpoint “The elusive estimate of inflation” was thoughtful, well-written and had lots of good examples to support his conclusion that “having the biennial budget debate framed in a context where every dollar of government spending is effectively indemnified against inflation doesn’t serve the cause of acknowledging reality” — even while he acknowledges that “[c]ompletely ignoring inflation’s effects may be a detriment to responsible fiscal planning.” Haveman is executive director of the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence.

His article was written in response to William C. Melton’s March 18 commentary “Surplus sounds too good to be true — and it is,” which concluded that “Minnesotans deserve accurate information, not budget numbers that are too good to be true.”

Indeed we do. This requires that estimates of revenues and expenses treat the effects of inflation the same. If we exclude inflation from estimates of expenses, we also need to exclude it from estimates of revenues. If we include inflation in estimates of revenue, we also need to include it in estimates of expenses.

This is not a partisan issue. It’s an issue of fiscal excellence.

Michael Wallis, Minnetonka

 

BOWE BERGDAHL

Direction of case reflects poorly on Obama’s decisionmaking

Thanks to our president’s utter unwillingness to acknowledge the terrible human cost of Islamic terrorism, we have the sorry spectacle of the exchange of Army serviceman Bowe Bergdahl for the release of five of the most committed terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. At the time, National Security Advisor Susan Rice commended Bergdahl for his service of distinction. Now, we learn that our government is prosecuting Bergdahl for his traitorous fraternization with the Taliban — our nation’s mortal enemy. While many Americans have struggled with this administration’s “down is up” version of reality, this sad, pathetic chapter should end all debate.

Mark H. Reed, Plymouth