Monday, May 27, 2024

Readers Write: Gun storage laws, Uber and Lyft, 24/7 businesses, the pipe organ

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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.


In the Star Tribune’s April 28 editorial, “Strengthen firearm storage laws,” the Editorial Board once again talked with the bill’s author while ignoring the views of the informed opposition at the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus. Instead, the board quoted Sen. Warren Limmer’s commentary about cows from a recent Senate hearing.

Peaceable Minnesotans oppose this proposed legislation because it significantly limits their ability to use firearms for self-defense in their homes, a core holding of the Supreme Court’s District of Columbia v. Heller decision. We oppose this legislation because it burdens law-abiding and peaceable Minnesotans and threatens them with arrest, even if they do not have children in their homes. The proposed bill also contains no funding or educational component to ensure that Minnesota’s 2.5 million peaceable gun owners are educated on the new requirements.

Current Minnesota law, defined in Minnesota Statute 609.666, addresses the examples cited by the Editorial Board in its opinion. Changing the law to make it more difficult for Minnesotans to use firearms for self-defense, as this proposed bill does, would not have prevented these tragic incidents.

The Star Tribune claims to want broader participation from diverse viewpoints. It could start by living up to that promise and reaching out to all sides of an issue rather than just its preferred point of view.

Our organization remains opposed to this legislation.

Bryan Strawser, Roseville

The writer is chairman of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus.


Minimum wage doesn’t even apply

The city of Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota fundamentally misunderstand the question of whether Uber and Lyft drivers are being paid a minimum wage (“Texas capital faced down the two rideshare giants,” April 28). The simple answer is that Uber and Lyft drivers are not employees. They are small-business owners, compensated for the services they provide, like any other business. A minimum wage does not apply to them.

Both the city and the state have released complicated, messy analyses trying to figure out what a “fair” minimum wage should be. Each looks at compensation and then tries to extrapolate costs to come up with a net that can be compared against the legal minimum wage. Of course, costs vary dramatically, depending on the choices of the business owner, so the conclusions are dubious. And both fail to incorporate the biggest benefit of owning a business — tax deductions. The state estimates a full-time driver drives 35,000 miles a year — a tax benefit of over $23,000 a year just using the standard deduction. Similarly, both studies ignore tips, which makes sense if you are debating wages but makes no sense if you are talking about business revenues.

Both the city and state need to withdraw their existing studies and replace them with studies that start with the correct assumptions. Uber and Lyft drivers are small-business owners, not employees. If we want to then debate whether these businesses are fairly compensated, then so be it. But minimum-wage laws do not apply.

Carol Becker, Minneapolis


As someone who has watched the government often make things worse for people over the past 50-plus years instead of making life better, I can only shake my head in disbelief over the government’s intrusion into the free enterprise system of Uber and Lyft drivers.

What the government bureaucrats fail to appreciate in this issue is that Uber and Lyft drivers are entrepreneurs. Some do this job in a full-time capacity, but many of them do this job as a side hustle. They decide what ride they want to provide and at what cost, and many rides are interconnected with other rides.

For example: I called for an Uber driver to take me from the airport to my home in the western suburbs. The driver had already driven someone to Owatonna, and he took another client from Owatonna to the airport.

He happened to live a few blocks away from me, and he was on his way home. Thus, he declined a client wanting to go to St. Paul and accepted my business because it paid his way home. It was his choice, and he felt it paid off.

Here is my message to government bureaucrats. Whether overtaxing us citizens and wasting our tax dollars on undeserving foreign countries, undeserving projects, undeserving social programs or other wasteful spending, keep your hands off of the free enterprise system. The government makes things worse more often than it makes things better. Let the entrepreneurs set what jobs they want to do and at what price.

Corby Pelto, Plymouth


Shape up, and they might come back

I read with great interest the Star Tribune’s recent article regarding how there are almost no remaining restaurants or other businesses in Minneapolis that are open 24 hours a day (“Mpls. starved for eats past midnight,” April 30). While I definitely agree that this is unfortunate for a city of this size, I wanted to provide some insight as to why businesses are reticent to stay open all night. To get right down to it, the way people in Minneapolis tend to behave “after dark” following the one-two punch of the COVID pandemic plus the George Floyd riots leaves a lot to be desired. I have worked an unhealthy amount of late-night shifts and have borne the brunt of people’s drunkenness, drug use and violent behavior to the point where it felt like I had a price on my head.

If people want more restaurants and other places in Minneapolis to stay open 24/7, then they can get jobs at these places and witness all of this unsavory behavior firsthand. Until then, those who like to stay out late need to learn how to handle themselves — especially since the resolution to this does not involve hiring more police. Instead, it involves us learning to respect each others’ boundaries so the police won’t need to be called. Ever.

Doug Saretsky, Minneapolis


The instrument as tall as the room

I appreciated the article “Music or physics? In this class, both” in the April 25 paper.

The photo showed the seminary chapel with its pipe organ behind the altar, far behind the trumpet player. What surprised me was the mention of the acoustics and multidisciplinary study did not involve the pipe organ.

One of the oldest instruments in Western civilization, the pipe organ is a supreme example of STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math). I would call this instrument the original multidisciplinary example through the ages. I fail to understand how it was neglected in this write-up since it is such a good combination of art and science. The Twin Cities Chapter of the American Guild of Organists has conducted Pipe Organ Discovery Days for children and youth for nearly 40 years based upon STEM curriculum. Michael Barone’s “Pipedreams” Sunday morning program on MPR reveals the wide sonic spread of this “king of instruments.” Organ builders often call the room in which a pipe organ is placed the most important “stop” (sound) of the instrument.

Perhaps another article about the pipe organ would be in order to further reveal how alive and well this unique instrument is in our area. Thank you.

The Rev. Richard F. Collman, Northfield, Minn.

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