It was gratifying to see the heavy turnout at the Labor Day picnic in Baxter on Monday. It was really good to see a large, diverse and happy crowd of all ages gathered at a group event. Like the State Fair, it was a welcome, positive exception to the downward trend in organized event attendance.
This column may not interest many of our readers. I say that because only a small fraction of Minnesota's eligible voters took the very minimal time and trouble to exercise their right and opportunity to vote in the Tuesday, Aug. 12, primary election. The primary election result was great support for our existing party endorsement system.
Next Tuesday is primary election day in Minnesota. We can be thankful that we live in a state and nation where we are free to vote as we choose without being in danger or subject to repercussion. Our free voting process is just one of the many blessings we can enjoy living in America. Some folks wanted to stay with our traditional September primary. Some wanted to change to June. So we ended up with August. Nevertheless, Tuesday, Aug. 12, is the day that the two major parties select their choices to go on to the general and final election on Nov. 4.
As a believer in our two-party system that has served this nation well, I hate to see what is happening to both the Republican Party and our DFL in Minnesota this summer. Our party endorsement systems are far from perfect, but both provide a process for interested citizens who take the time and trouble to actively participate not only to have impact, but also the opportunity to be viable candidates for office.
This week, we in Minnesota will be commemorating the most memorable life of former Congressman James Oberstar, who unexpectedly departed from this world the first week in May. He was known as Jim to the many who were fortunate enough to enjoy repeated communication. He remains with us as we look around the 8th District.
If everyone voted, we would have a better nation. When approximately half of our eligible voting population exercises its right to vote, even assuming straight two-party division, it means our government is determined by about one-fourth of its people. That is sad, particularly at this time of the year when we focus our memory and appreciation toward those who served and who have given so much to protect our country and its rights of free expression.
It is not a plus for our state government to now be spending much time on whether “charitable” gambling ought to be expanded in Minnesota. There are far more issues of pressing and real importance remaining to be dealt with in the closing days and hours of the 2014 legislative session. To this observer, we have a very mixed bag of gambling laws, rules and regulations, as created and motivated by the personal profit potential made possible under legalized gambling.
What a shameful way we finance health care in America! United Health Group (UHG) lost financial ground a little bit in the first quarter of 2014. Isn’t that a shame? The company alleges that this was due to the continuing application of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This is the UHG that has mushroomed to enormous size and profit, generated by government dollars. Wasn’t UHG one of the favored 20 or so companies approved to jump into the newly created and ultimately lucrative senior drug coverage industry in 2004? Hasn’t it grown by leaps and bounds ever since?
Good government is all around us. Just look for it. You don’t have to look very far. We are among the most fortunate inhabitants on Earth, just because of the level and type of government we have in this country. Certainly it has innumerable examples of fault and omission, but overall we have a government to be thankful for.
Let us not fall in with those creating a hullabaloo over rebates this year. We are in the recently rare status of state government taking in more dollars than are budgeted for payment this year. Most of us consider that a delightful and welcome dilemma to be in. Some of us would leave it at that. Others, however — legislators fom both sides, but particularly Republican — are clamoring for rebates to us taxpayers. This writer votes “no” to rebates.