Micah Haber’s commentary about government attempts to foil price gouging on various supplies during this pandemic provides a good refresher in basic capitalist theory (“Higher prices aren’t the problem, shortages are,” April 8). He argues that inflated prices simply reflect a lack of supply and that all attempts to subvert the laws of supply and demand are doomed to fail.

Perhaps we could define price gouging in the time of COVID-19 as taking advantage of need and anxiety to resell essential products at a very large profit. Is this inherently a bad thing to do? Or are COVID-19 price gougers nothing more than opportunistic little capitalists, trying to make a buck by starting a resale business on the back of a national emergency? Isn’t that Capitalism 101? It would be interesting to learn more about price gouging — who is doing it, how many and what supplies are being resold, at what prices and profits, and to whom.

What is the difference between an individual buying 10 bottles of hand sanitizer and selling it in the neighborhood for a 100% markup, because they need the money for food, and an insider in the supply chain buying a truckload of needed supplies to sell for five times the retail price to a nursing home that is desperate for it? Also, what is the difference between hoarding 20 cases of toilet paper in your garage, when your neighbor can’t find any to purchase, and price gouging? One buys products for resale (economic security) and the other for personal security.

I think what we need to consider is at what point any of these activities become supremely anti-social acts worthy of government regulation. What is the most effective strategy for preventing the unwanted behavior, if possible, and if not, regulating/ punishing it? And most importantly, how does all of this relate to the basic goal of getting everyone to pull together for the common good in this national emergency?

Mary Bolton, Stillwater

PRIMARY VOTING

Wisconsin failed to protect us

Yesterday I exercised my constitutional right by voting in person and in doing so put other voters, the poll workers and myself at an unnecessary risk because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Up to 250,000 American citizens may perish as a result of this virus. The argument for holding the primary based on the precedent we set for the future is baseless, because in our lifetime we have never experienced a pandemic of this magnitude. Changing the date of an election should be a rare event, and I believe most events (99.9%) would not even come close to the level of threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I believe that one of the main functions of a government is to protect its people. Did the decision of the Wisconsin GOP protect us citizens? No. When I look at patterns of behavior it becomes quite clear that voter suppression is the modus operandi of the GOP.

If you are in government at any level, please put the safety and well-being of our citizens first over party politics designed to maintain power.

David Bredehoft, Hudson, Wis.

• • •

The scenes of voters in Wisconsin, some needing assistance, some old, all of them disgusted at waiting in line for hours, are heartbreaking. During an emergency like COVID-19, reasonable exceptions should be made. To have to risk your life to vote when there was a perfectly viable alternative is nonsense.

My daughter had years of experience with mail-in voting when she lived in Oregon and can’t understand why it has not been adopted everywhere. There is no evidence of more fraud with this voting method than with others, none whatsoever. If there were, would Oregon have kept it for over 21 years?

May the legislators and courts that required this ridiculous voting method reap the whirlwind.

Mary McLeod, St. Paul

ILHAN OMAR

Her challenger is unconvincing

Antone Melton-Meaux’s opinion piece (“Here’s why I’m challenging Rep. Ilhan Omar,” April 7) is nothing more than a political attack ad demonstrating shallow thinking, inaccuracies and serious omissions regarding Rep. Ilhan Omar’s representation of and street-level involvement with the Fifth Congressional District. As a resident of the district, I suggest that Melton-Meaux is the one who has not delved deeply into the issues that most concern the Fifth District.

The dog whistles to Islamophobia and the race, class and gender erasures are too many to mention. Here are two examples: He says Omar advocates lifting sanctions against Iran but in the shallow thinking that pervades the piece, he makes no effort to explain why. That is a dog whistle. The reason is humanitarian and, in fact, in Tuesday’s Star Tribune, there was a short article about all the esteemed diplomats who support that position. In the Fifth District, Omar has consistently worked closely with marginalized groups, successfully helping Minnesota’s Liberian community, members of which faced immediate deportation (certainly not a high-visibility or celebrity-seeking stand).

Informed residents of the Fifth also know that Omar has run a series of locally focused community conversations on the environment, climate change, affordable housing and health care for women. She continues to do so online. All are welcome to attend. The extensive community turnout reveals Omar’s close ties to the Fifth and her concern about issues that matter to her constituents.

Melton-Meaux attacks Omar for not getting bills passed in Congress but, again, would rather attack than explain even when the explanation is obvious: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Melton-Meaux mentions none of this. Perhaps these initiatives do not fit into his unsupported barrage of attacks on our congresswoman as detached and absent from her district. The people of the Fifth can see through his thin and outworn attacks.

Finally, and oddly, he devotes scant attention to his qualifications. Making a series of promises is the simplest but also least convincing argument for his challenge to our proven organizer and representative of the people — Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Kate Wittenstein, Minneapolis

The writer is treasurer of the Ilhan Omar for Congress campaign.

STATE BUDGET

Those grandiose plans can wait

It was interesting to note the article on Tuesday regarding the rapid deterioration of the state budget surplus (“Virus dims bright forecast for budget,” front page). Perhaps a silver lining in the current mess we find ourselves in is that legislators on both sides of the political divide were unable to act swiftly enough to spend the surplus on the pet items of their respective political agendas.

Hopefully a lesson learned by all is that it’s good to have a healthy budget surplus; one never knows when the next crisis is just around the corner.

Edward Winthrop, Minneapolis

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