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I don't understand. How can anyone justify a 30% increase in the state budget? ("DFL sees spending increase of 30%," front page, March 22.) I recognize that there are some needs that justify increased funding, but let's look ahead a bit. This reckless spending demonstrates the danger of any single party, Republican or Democrat, being in power in the House, Senate and governorship.

Eugene Olinger, Minneapolis


So the Democrat-dominated Legislature is going to spend down the entire budget surplus. In the process, these lawmakers are passing out a few bucks to the taxpayers. They are paying for infrastructure with cash to sidestep a bonding bill vote because they can't bring themselves to lower spending and taxes. But to add insult to injury, they are planning to increase the budget by 30%! And Gov. Tim Walz says "that's what compromise looks like"? That is a slap in the face to all hardworking Minnesota taxpayers!

Joe Polunc, Waconia


Case against the case is unpersuasive

Trying to diminish the Manhattan district attorney's case against former President Donald Trump ("Even Trump foes see hush money case is flawed," Opinion Exchange, March 22), Marshall Tanick says a whole lot of nothing.

First Tanick postulates an expired statute of limitations, although New York law specifically extends that statute for an accused's time out of state. Then he proposes "somewhat convoluted legal theories," despite no one yet knowing what legal theories may be presented at trial. Tanick follows up trashing potential witness Michael Cohen as a "convicted federal offender," though Cohen's conviction arose from the very incident for which Trump may be tried.

Getting no traction, Tanick moves on to compare the Trump case with the overturned Bill Cosby case but immediately admits that the similarity he cites is not the reason Cosby's conviction was reversed. Finally, Tanick reaches into obscurity to compare Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's alleged politicizing of the Trump case with a bill of attainder. But, again, he's obliged to promptly acknowledge they're not the same thing. So, anywhere in this mess of verbiage did we see a convincing legal theory as to why Trump should not be tried? With neither facts nor law to support him, Tanick's argument is just a replay of that hoary old saw, a lawyer pounding on the proverbial table.

Peter Hill, Minnetonka


Many gain much from these jobs

I read with interest the article in the March 13 issue of the Star Tribune titled "Higher expectations" about addressing subminimum wages paid to Minnesotans with disabilities. It was great to hear of these people who, previously earning subminimum wages, were paid minimum wage for jobs after enactment of the changes in employment law. Regretfully, success stories such as these are few and far between in my experience.

My wife and I are parents of a disabled adult daughter, who was happily employed in a piece-rate position — mostly assembling kits of parts, for example, those included when one purchases a storm door, perhaps having screws, brackets and such. Our daughter has no concept of money or expenses and, consequently, did not care whether she was being paid or not. Because of her low productivity, she will never have the opportunity to work at any job for minimum wage but happily worked with her coach at these jobs for piece-rate wages. Last fall our daughter lost the opportunity to work at her assembly job. Her center then substituted enrichment programs. While helping her spend the hours in her day, these programs have failed to provide the satisfaction she experienced when employed. When employed, our daughter came home looking forward to relaxation and rest. Now, she comes home obsessively seeking household tasks to complete because she is being denied the satisfaction previously accorded by employment.

Our daughter is not unique. We know several other parents and guardians of disabled adults with similar experiences. They report that, in many instances, the minimum-wage jobs provided went from perhaps 20 hours per week to three or four hours per week, leaving the disabled adults with idle time now spent in enrichment activities to fill the void.

We are happy for the people cited in the article who now have better-paying jobs, jobs hopefully with sufficient hours to make up for the loss of piecework employment. However, there are many other disabled adults who now have no job and cannot experience the satisfaction of accomplishment because of being denied employment by a well-meaning but shortsighted policy. Let's not deny people like our daughter the satisfaction of working in the process of enabling these possibly few people to be better employed.

Larry Alexander, Hampton


A labyrinthine attempt at definition

The headline "How to define 'woke'" (Opinion Exchange, March 21) leads readers to expect a clear definition of "woke," but the article is among the most convoluted and obscure pieces I have seen in years. I wouldn't be surprised if most readers gave up reading after a couple of paragraphs.

Despite the widespread misunderstanding and confusion about the meaning of "woke," the word has a clear meaning. Woke means being awake, aware of the social implications of racism, the widening gap between the rich and the poor, climate change and discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. Citizens disagree about the importance of these concerns.

It seems to me that confusion about the meaning of "woke" arises because some people use the word to call attention to what they take to be important social ills that our government should address while others use it as a politically dirty word, like "communist" or "pervert." The meaning of "woke" is clear despite Ross Douthat's opinion piece. Confusion arises due to the political divide in our country.

Duane Cady, Shoreview


It was refreshing to finally find some sort of definition for "woke." It was written in doublespeak that would make George Orwell proud. Nondiscrimination is reached by discriminating. Free speech is obtained by suppressing speech. Gender equity is realized by ignoring gender. Personal beliefs are more important than reality. It can be summed up by Douthat's statement, "If you want to save the planet or end the rule of greed, you need a different kind of human ... ." Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, to name a few, all want(ed) a "different kind of human," a state-owned human, an unquestioning human, an unflinchingly loyal human, a tediously mediocre human. And those that aren't? Re-education? Forced organ donation? Exile? Intimidation? Prison? "Showers"? Thank you, Ross Douthat, for revealing the key underpinnings (and dangers) to the "woke" movement.

Donald Pitsch, Eden Prairie


Reading Douthat's attempt to define the term "woke," I was amazed to discover such elaborate complexity for a very simple concept: empathy. Awareness of how other people understand their world requires us to "walk a mile in their shoes" or at least try to listen to their stories. We can choose to go beyond our own limited worldview to share, however imperfectly, the experience of others who may not be as comfortable as we are. Sometimes the victims of injustice speak with violent protests; other times their voices are quiet but no less urgent. I suspect it is the quiet voices that unnerve the bullies and fearmongers.

Once you understand something you become responsible for dealing with it. You can choose to attack the messenger (a common tactic these days), denounce the facts (call it "fake news") or simply ignore the entire issue. On the other hand you can accept the message for what it is and consider the choices presented: be a part of the change needed to address the issue or be a part of the continuing problem. It is an unsettling choice for anyone.

George Hutchinson, Minneapolis