We all do better when we all do better


Recent census figures reflect a discouraging reality: The share of all Americans living in poverty, including children, is higher than it's been in decades ("State poverty hits 10.8%, incomes slide," Sept. 14).

With this new data, and with the national debate over the debt and deficit crises, it's important to keep in mind how hard-pressed working people are affected. As national leaders work to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal budget, we urge them to preserve social programs and tax credits that support the economic security of low-income families.

Historically, major deficit-reduction strategies have avoided cutting such programs and tax credits. Refundable tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit have been hailed for helping families stay in the workforce by providing a buffer for many living in or close to poverty levels, which is now one in four Minnesotans.

Such credits help families pay their everyday bills, provide for their children and access education to improve their employability. This, in turn, puts money back into the economy.


The writer is executive director of AccountAbility Minnesota, a free tax preparation and financial services nonprofit.

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It was reported that the poverty rate in Minnesota is now over 10 percent. This is not just sad; it is immoral. Hubert Humphrey once said: "The real test of a man of spirit, of faith, is that he sees to it that those who have too little get enough."

Ending poverty will benefit our whole society, not only those in need.


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I'd pay higher taxes to promote education


I have to say that I am very disappointed in our government and America in general. Instead of burdening college students with huge debits and tuition costs and fees, why not help us out? Even in high school, I could see the way my school was struggling to make ends meet.

The only hope for our future is better education and more support for students. Taxes are a vital part of keeping the government alive and thriving. Our tax money is only helping to keep our roads safe, parks open and education consistent.

I am not opposed in any way to paying taxes, because I know that in the end, it is only making my life, and my future, better. I may be young, but I can clearly see that our country has a big problem, and we need to work on our schools to make children thrive.


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Love the sinner, hate the sin? Coercive.


A recent letter writer ("Opponent's message was one of compassion," Sept. 15) partially agreed with a writer critical of Father James Livingston's upholding of church teachings against same-sex marriage and relationships, in that Jesus came to Earth to absolve sinners and affirm the primacy of love.

But she added a condition for Jesus to give his love and compassion, saying "but sinners must confess and repent of their sin -- whatever they may be -- to be absolved, not continue in it."

Either love and compassion are there, or they are not. When you add conditions, you aren't offering love and compassion; you are trying to change people, and you are using your offer as a stick to get your way.


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How nice that people like Father Livingston and the subsequent letter writer will let me be gay as long as I don't have gay sex.


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In tough times, it's even harder to escape


The increase in Minnesota's unemployment rate and number of people living in poverty means more people are seeking help from food shelves, losing their homes to foreclosure or moving in with friends and family.

But for battered women, the options are more devastating. Increased unemployment and poverty may mean choosing between safety in your home and food on your table.

WATCH, a court-monitoring organization focused on violence against women, witnesses this choice being made. Just recently, a WATCH monitor returned from a sentencing at the Hennepin County Government Center.

The defendant was charged with strangling his girlfriend, with whom he has two children. The victim requested that she be allowed to have contact with the defendant because she needs his financial support. She said that "one can of formula costs more than I make in an hour."

Scenarios like this are played out in courtrooms across our state. Battered women are sacrificing safety so their children have food on the table or a roof over their heads. This is not a choice anyone should have to make.

And the consequences are not only the obvious immediate ones. There are long-term consequences as well, particularly when children are in the picture.

Research shows that children who witness domestic violence are more likely than their peers to suffer depression, chemical dependency and anxiety.

So, the next time you hear someone say they don't understand why women stay in abusive relationships, tell them the story of the woman (representing hundreds more) who traded her safety for baby food.

 In our community. Here, at the Hennepin County Government Center. And then let's work together so families can be safe in their homes and have food on their tables.


The writer is executive director of WATCH.