Home Debt Trump vs. Haley, the death penalty, the national debt

Trump vs. Haley, the death penalty, the national debt

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Opinion editor’s note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.

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It’s a sad reality in which a presidential candidate can mock an opponent’s culture and call her names, yet do so without repercussion (“Trump mocks Haley for her Indian name,” Jan. 20). Can you imagine a teacher, principal, police chief, CEO, coach or any other person in a position of leadership doing this and not getting fired or severely disciplined? And 50% of our country approves of him and allows this behavior. This is the best his party can nominate, yet we have a U.S. senator living directly to our west who holds the title of Senate minority whip who won’t run for president despite serving 19 years in the Senate and being encouraged to run since 2012.

Voters of both parties are putting up weak candidates when there are much better men and women available. Yet, we continue to complain about our government and our leaders. Look in the mirror, voters. They are not the problem. We are.

Tom Intihar, Brooklyn Park

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The Great Divider, the former president, mocks one of his primary rivals, former Gov. Nikki Haley, by purposely mispronouncing her name, focusing on her race and ethnicity and incorrectly suggesting her background technically disqualifies her from becoming president. A Christian minister, Pastor Darrell Scott, offers this explanation: “He’s not intending to demean or degrade her in any way.” Really? Scott then adds, “He just doing that to garner votes.” In other words, as long as a candidate is focused on getting votes, then anything is fair game. Wrong. Especially when it comes to the former president, who has a well-documented history of lies, defamation and obfuscation, particularly related to women.

It’s particularly disconcerting a Christian minister would publicly offer an explanation that turns a blind eye to the former president’s calculated efforts to manipulate voters. It’s a prime example of the way many evangelicals have compromised their values in a cultlike commitment to the former president. At this point, those compromises amount to complicity. It is hard to imagine Jesus condoning behavior that demonizes a person because of her background, dividing our country by playing on fears, ignorance and racism. Faith leaders should instead be working to bring people and communities together, especially when their political candidates won’t.

Mark Lindberg, Minneapolis

•••

This is in response to the Jan. 19 letter supporting Iowa standing by Trump.

I understand the points the writer made about what he wants to see our country strive for. What I don’t understand is why he thinks Trump is the only man who can deliver those goals. Why isn’t there another Republican he can endorse who:

  1. Hasn’t been found liable for sexual abuse;
  2. Hasn’t been indicted on charges of paying off porn stars;
  3. Hasn’t had multiple affairs;
  4. Isn’t going on trial on charges of election interference;
  5. Isn’t going on trial on charges related to an insurrection?

I really don’t understand why anyone would endorse Trump when there are much better options.

Susan Hunziker, Lakeville

DEATH PENALTY

How is this still allowed?

The Star Tribune reprint of the Los Angeles Times editorial “Biden’s empty talk against death penalty” (Jan. 22) criticizes the Department of Justice for continuing the pursuit of death penalty punishments.

The concept of a death penalty is unacceptable at every level. It is not an effective deterrent. It is economically inefficient. It is applied unequally across race and class lines. Innocent people are executed. And most importantly, capital punishment is morally bankrupt.

Vengeance is the disposition that fuels support for the death penalty. When a society accepts state-sanctioned murder as the resolution of humanity’s most basic principle — life or death — we become equivalent to the perpetuator of the crime we seek to avenge. Those who commit heinous crimes must be punished severely. Capital punishment, however, is social barbarism.

Minnesota abolished the death penalty in 1911. The United States is one of only a few developed countries that still sanctions this practice. We must stop allowing state-sanctioned murder. The human rights and civil liberties embedded in the Constitution and Bill of Rights provide the moral foundation for rejecting the death penalty.

Phil George, Lakeville

•••

Virtually all of the federal death penalty cases mentioned in “Biden’s empty talk against death penalty” had become final by Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2009.

President Obama, whom President Biden served as vice president, could have commuted any of these federal death sentence at any time during his eight years in office, including after President Donald Trump’s election — and Hillary Clinton’s defeat — in November 2016.

He failed to do so.

There is no basis to complain that his successor, Trump, carried out the will of the people following due process according to the U.S. Constitution.

If Star Tribune is going to reprint opinion pieces from other publications, it should first review them to ensure that relevant facts are not omitted.

Karl Olson, St. Louis Park

NATIONAL DEBT

The situation is really that bad

I could not believe the physical space that was allotted on Jan. 19 for a letter on the national debt titled “Is the situation really so bad?” The only thing I agreed with the author on was his own admission that “I am only an amateur student of this.” That was obvious from the content. I offer my opinion, supported by facts.

First of all, the U.S. has carried debt since its inception. Debts were incurred during the American Revolutionary War. What is alarming is the rate of increase of the national debt in this century. A better indicator is comparing a nation’s debt to their gross domestic product (GDP). This is considered a better indicator of a country’s fiscal situation because it shows the burden of debt relative to the country’s economic output and therefore its ability to repay it. The U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio passed 100% for the first time in 2013 when both the debt and GDP were approximately $16.7 trillion. The ratio is currently at 123%.

In a recent paper published by the University of Pennsylvania, the Penn Wharton Budget Model goes into extensive detail of when the federal debt will reach unsustainable levels. It estimates the ratio cannot exceed 200%. At that point our economy would unravel. In its summary statement it says, “financial markets cannot sustain more than the next 20 years of accumulated deficits projected under current U.S. fiscal policy.” This assumes we stay on the same trajectory with our amateur student who wants to “dump this deficit myth” and continue “with a wise application of its bountiful currency supply.”

Now where are these changes going to be made? There are revenues, and there are expenses. On the revenue side, believe it or not, the top 50% of taxpayers (by income) pay 98% of the revenue received by the government through federal individual income taxes. Taking that one step further, the top 1% of wage earners pay 42% of those taxes. Everyone mistakenly believes the rich are not paying their fair share. Really? Can we expect to increase revenue from this group? Probably not. Other major sources of revenue include corporate taxes and payroll taxes. Individual income taxes make up 50% of the revenue.

On the expense side, we have a country that is aging and will rely more heavily on Social Security for a portion, or all, of their household income and Medicare or Medicaid for their health. That’s 46% of the budget. We also have a country that is growing accustomed to having more and more of their needs provided by the government. There are over 80 welfare programs at the federal level that comprise over 20% of the federal outlays. National defense is 12%. Net interest, at 10%, is now approaching the same level as national defense spending.

Are you seeing the problem? Who will pay more? What program(s) will be cut? So the short answer to the question “Is the situation really so bad?” Yes.

Timothy J. Rubash, Apple Valley

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