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Thanks to Bonnie Blodgett for her thoughtful commentary on Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson (“Hamilton vs. Jefferson,” Aug. 26). We are all familiar with what Jefferson wrote in our Declaration of Independence about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But we are far less familiar with what came next, even though it was surely just as important. He said that people create their own government with the express purpose of ensuring their rights. It is their government. Therefore, if their government doesn’t do a good enough job of protecting those rights, it is also their right to change it or replace it. So, if you believe that government is not the solution to the problems, but is the problem, Jefferson would say you’re not doing it right.

David Rosene, Brooklyn Park

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I was encouraged to see Blodgett’s commentary acknowledge that it is unfair to judge Jefferson’s ownership of slaves by today’s cultural norms. We are eager to disparage the founders for not living up to our standards and praise ourselves for living up to theirs. We would all have taken to the streets to protest the founders’ slave ownership, no doubt. In the late 18th century, we would have been alone and likely judged as mad. Slavery was the cross-cultural historical norm. Equality as a fundamental ideal was a radical departure from the historical norm. Some of the founders were slave owners, but their ideals fueled the movement for abolition, and continue to fuel the ongoing quest for equality for all.

Dan Conlin, Maple Grove

WOMEN AND SELF-DEFENSE

Column sent wrong message — that that burden is on victims

Jennifer Brooks’ Aug. 26 column “Before the race, a dose of vigilance,” linking self-defense techniques and the prevention of violence against women, was not just disappointing but dangerous — and the inclusion of a picture of slain Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts was offensive. Conversations about the epidemic of violence against women in this state are vitally and urgently important, but it is a myth to suggest that if women would just learn a few “self-defense” techniques, we’d be “safer” from violent men.

The only people who can prevent violence against women are the men who (overwhelmingly) commit the violence. Let’s talk about toxic masculinity, and about the link between untreated childhood trauma and men who commit violence. Let’s talk about the important work that local nonprofits like the Domestic Abuse Project are doing to break the often intergenerational cycle of violence in our communities. And let’s talk about how columns like this contribute to a culture of victim-blaming that must stop. I speak as a survivor of violence and an advocate for too many women like me in this state.

Sara Freeman, Minneapolis

HEALTH INSURANCE

Questions about the fiscal cliff facing the next governor

Thank you for the informative Aug. 26 editorial (“Next governor faces health care fiscal cliff”) on the Health Care Access Fund and its source of revenue — the 2 percent “provider tax.” The Star Tribune Editorial Board raised several important questions regarding the provider tax, including (1) Did it serve Minnesota well? And (2) Who benefits if it expires or if it is maintained? I would suggest adding a more direct version of the second question — and the question that is most often forgotten when analyzing any tax: Who actually pays it? Taxes are given names like “provider tax” for political purposes. Those names have absolutely no bearing on the true incidence of the tax.

Bryan E. Dowd, Minneapolis

The writer is a professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management of the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota.

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Thank you for the well-written editorial about the issues related to health care funding and the need to identify the tremendous ongoing need for funds to pay for the health care needs of this state’s population. While there are definitely ongoing and future needs, they could have been financed more easily if governors hadn’t raided the fund for non-health-related reasons. Had they left the fund alone, there would have been plenty of money held in trust for the ongoing needs of the state’s population. Also, the fund was originally started in 1992 to fund MinnesotaCare. While at the time it was considered a tax on the sick, it provided needed and necessary money to help with access to care and improvements in health care services.

Its original intent was subsequently expanded, as the editorial stated, to provide financing to the reinsurance program and Medical Assistance program to the tune of more than a billion dollars. If the money had not been used for other purposes, there would have been more than enough to fund its original intent for many years.

So when the Editorial Board says it is perplexed as to why the logic of the 2011 deal to sunset the tax was made, it might just be because the original rationale for the tax and the use of the funding is unrecognizable, and someone made that argument to enough legislators who agreed.

Dr. Mark Destache, St. Paul

TAYLOR SWIFT

This longtime fan takes issue with recent article about her

As a longtime Taylor Swift fan, I was shocked when I read the Aug. 26 Variety article “How Taylor Swift got a bad reputation.” It was extremely one-sided.

For example, the article stated that “for the first time, a Swift record hasn’t gotten much traction on radio.” But the single “Delicate,” from the album “Reputation,” was No. 1 on Adult Pop Music, while “Look What You Made Me Do” peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100.

Another example is the statement that “Twin Cities pop station KS95 is more likely to play a Taylor oldie than any of the songs from ‘Reputation.’ ” I’ve heard “Delicate” on KS95 multiple times, and KS95 even put the lyric videos to her new song on its website, KS95.com.

Also, the article quotes a fan as saying she couldn’t afford a ticket for a Minneapolis concert. According to SeatGeek.com, the average ticket price for Taylor’s “Reputation Stadium Tour” is $279, which is only $36 higher than the 1989 tour.

The article also claims that Taylor’s songs are “no longer relatable.” Taylor, unlike many other artists, writes her own songs from personal experience. Lyrics about “having dated fellows with their Range Rovers and Jaguars” that were mentioned in the article had no background information about the song. The author was simply using those lyrics to prove that Swift was bragging. But they were from the song “King of My Heart,” which is about how you don’t need riches to be royalty to someone.

Last, the ending quote “Imagine Taylor Swift not winning. That’s a changed reputation for sure,” is completely misleading. “Reputation” went platinum in seven countries (including going 10 times platinum in China and three times platinum in the U.S.), and was the fastest album ever to hit No. 1 on iTunes in the U.S. Swift broke her own record of being the woman with the highest-grossing tour in the U.S., earning $191.1 million as of Aug. 22. Taylor Swift was amazing, is amazing, and will continue to be amazing.

Caitlyn Holl, Lakeville

The writer is a student at Century Middle School.