As a longtime member of the Planning Commission in the city of Ramsey, I did not know whether to laugh or cry at the Sept. 29 editorial (“Don’t let politicians choose road projects”). In Anoka County, this process has been politicized for decades. To verify this, just pull out a map of the Twin Cities area and see where the major freeway construction has taken place. Most of it has gone to wealthier suburbs either in the Lake Minnetonka region or south of the river. Meanwhile, Anoka County residents have the worst commute in the metro area. Instead of an Interstate 394, or all the freeways around Eden Prairie, we get half measures that fail to solve existing problems. We have been told not to expect anything more until well into the future.
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Council tells us we need to build more houses, even though data for our community show a strong correlation between congestion and homebuying. The retail we so desperately need stays away because consumers can’t get to destinations conveniently. It would be easy to point fingers, but as a systems person, my inclination is to look to what has been a flawed system. As the editorial fails to point out, politics is only a code word for a process that is broken. What are needed are major reforms.
Ralph Brauer, Ramsey
SUING SAUDI ARABIA
A just veto override by Congress, or a failure to think ahead?
I would like to thank Congress for overriding President Obama’s veto of the bill that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to bring legal action against Saudi Arabia, especially since most of the perpetrators were from that country. In addition, we should not be providing material support to oppressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Dan Wicht, Fridley
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How shortsighted and disappointing that Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken voted to override the president’s veto. Franken’s rationale is very fragile. We may claim a particular event/act is not terrorism, but our opponents can and will claim otherwise. We could be tied up in courts forever, and the danger to those in the area becomes greater.
Who will pay the legal “fees”? Nothing can take away the grief of that tragic day, but, if memory serves, the families have had some financial compensation, so the problems of these lawsuits surely outweigh the benefits. I commend Reps. John Kline and Betty McCollum and others who voted against the override.
June Oakins, Minneapolis
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America has probably killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians trying to spread democracy throughout the world, and now Congress wants to allow Sept. 11 victims’ families to sue Saudi Arabia’s government over its alleged support for the terrorists who carried out the attacks.
Bob Gildea, Arlington
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Hmmm — so if victims (or families of those victims) of terror are now able to sue the country that perpetrated the crime, can descendants of slaves sue the United States?
Sandra Boes O’Brien, Minneapolis
Five things Donald Trump should have said at the debate
1) If I’m cheating on my taxes, that will be disclosed by the audit. If the government doesn’t want people using tax incentives to reduce liability, it should change the tax code.
2) I thought the topics were America’s direction, prosperity and security. How does the birther question fit into those categories? If you want to change the debate to one that has nothing to do with policy, why don’t we talk about the secretary’s serial dishonesty regarding Benghazi, her e-mails, the Clinton Foundation and just about everything else?
3) Business bankruptcies actually exist for the benefit of the creditors. Every aspect of the business is laid bare, and the creditors get to decide whether to liquidate the company or to restructure the obligations. The first parties paid are employees, and the absolute last parties to get paid are the stockholders, aka me.
4) People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. The last person who should be raising treatment of women as an issue is the person married to Bill Clinton. Maybe next time she should invite Miss Venezuela and I’ll bring Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and several others.
5) Some people enter politics because they want to do something. Others because they want to be something. As you know, I already was something, and now I’m running because I want to do something — make America great again. Secretary Clinton is running because she wants to be something.
Bob Gust, Bloomington
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Responding to the attack by Hillary Clinton that he has paid little or no taxes, Trump said: “That’s because I’m smart.”
There is nothing wrong with being smart, or paying little or no taxes. Below are quotes from federal Judge Billings Learned Hand. (Hand was famous as an avid supporter of free speech and for applying economic reasoning to American tort law. He is noted as one of the most influential American judges never to have served on the U.S. Supreme Court.)
“Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes.”
Gregory vs. Helvering, 69 F.2d 809, 810 (2d Cir. 1934)
“Over and over again courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging one’s affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everybody does so, rich or poor; and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands: taxes are enforced exactions, not voluntary contributions. To demand more in the name of morals is mere cant.”
Commissioner vs. Newman, 159 F.2d 848, 851 (2d Cir. 1947)
Maybe it is Clinton who is not intelligent by incorrectly employing our tax system and then complaining to the public that Trump is doing so.
Nathan D. Bergeland, Eden Prairie
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The New York Times just reviewed a new biography of Hitler (“Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939,” by Volker Ullrich), which explores how a self-obsessed “clown” could rise to power. The factors cited include: his egomania, with a taste for self-dramatization; being so thoroughly untruthful that he couldn’t recognize the difference between truth and lies; being an effective orator, adept at assuming masks to suit the taste of his nationalist-conservative audiences; playing on the crowd’s fears while offering himself as the visionary leader who could restore law and order; his painting the present day in dark hues, while offering vague promises to lead Germany “to a new era of national greatness” based on a lost golden age; his limited repertoire of topics, and repeated “mantralike phrases” consisting of accusations, vows of revenge and promises for the future, and an erosion of the political center and growing resentment of elites, fostering a perception that the country needed a “man of iron” who could shake things up.
I know, I know — we aren’t Germany in the 1930s, and Donald Trump is not an evil Nazi. But sometimes history does teach some lessons. Otherwise, why does anyone bother writing books about it?
Stephen Bubul, Minneapolis