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As I See It: Many questions; few good answers

Gov. Mark Dayton has handed out raises to various commission heads ranging from just under $11,000 to one that exceeded $84,000. The total amount of the raises was more than $800,000 and the average is $32,120. The raises were approved by the Leg...

Gov. Mark Dayton has handed out raises to various commission heads ranging from just under $11,000 to one that exceeded $84,000.

The total amount of the raises was more than $800,000 and the average is $32,120.

The raises were approved by the Legislature in 2013, and took effect this year and allowed the limit on salaries for commissioners to move from 85 or 95 percent of the governor's salary to 133 percent of his salary. The 2013 measure also allowed the governor to raise the pay of the commissioners without legislative approval.

The governor stated, "I want the best people and I want them to be able to support their families, and obviously the salaries are a lot of money, but I've had people leave state government, my commissioners, to go over to local government and make 50 percent more than what I was able to pay them,..."

If the state commissioners can't "support their families" on an amount close to the governor's salary ($120,000), what about the average Minnesota family?

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People all over the country are clamoring for a minimum wage of $15 per hour. That equates to an annual gross salary of $31,200. That's certainly not generous and will hardly support a family of four.

By comparison, an E-4 in the Army with six years of experience earns a base pay of somewhat more than $29,000. Yes, allowances and bonuses increase that amount, but should we really pay many relatively unskilled workers better than we pay the heart of our military forces?

I'm also really intrigued by the reaction to a proposal to exempt retired military income from Minnesota income tax. I don't know if the claimed benefits are accurate. I do know that retired military people are seldom fully retired and they are some of the most dedicated, skilled and honest workers and involved people in the country and would be a definite addition to any state.

I also know that Minnesota ranks very low on the attractiveness scale if one is measuring how far a retirement dollar really goes. I noticed one recent comment in a letter in the Brainerd Dispatch that stated something to the effect that our military members have already received more than they signed up for.

I believe that comment was meant in terms of monetary compensation but could also be true in terms of multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, improvised explosive devices, snipers, missed anniversaries, birthdays, weddings and funerals, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

There are some things money will never compensate.

The more we move away from a society and culture where a majority of people have served in the armed forces, the more we lose an appreciation for the true value of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airman, and Marines.

That true value goes far beyond what they are paid. Why not exempt the first $25,000 of military retired pay? That will really help those who earn the least in retired pay and leave it at that. Or is that too much or not enough?

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I'm really intrigued as to what history text books President Obama might reference to support his comments at the recent National Prayer Breakfast. Instead of being factually accurate, the president resorted to the popular narrative of bloodthirsty Christians attacking and slaughtering innocent Saracens (Muslims) during the Crusades in the Middle Ages.

The Romans essentially slaughtered or drove out the Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem circa 70 AD. As the Roman Empire declined, the Persians captured the city in 614, followed by the Muslims in 638. The first and only truly successful Crusade was mounted to reclaim the holy sites of Christianity and captured Jerusalem in 1099. The Muslims recaptured Jerusalem in 1167.

Warfare is not now, and has never been humane. Stories of men, women and children being slaughtered and city streets becoming rivers of blood are sensational, but seldom very accurate.

What is going on now in the Middle East and Africa is loathsome, sickening and well reported and is not justified in any way by what might or might not have happened over a century ago or published in a magazine today.

Why is our president an apologist for expressed enemies and who is he afraid of offending? That's an answer I'm waiting to hear.

That's the way I see it.

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