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War in Iraq takes its toll in Duluth By now the deceptions about weapons of mass destruction and al-Qaeda in Iraq are old hat. Secret CIA detention centers also are nothing new. One of the best kept secrets, however, is the staggering financial b...

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War in Iraq takes its toll in Duluth

By now the deceptions about weapons of mass destruction and al-Qaeda in Iraq are old hat. Secret CIA detention centers also are nothing new.

One of the best kept secrets, however, is the staggering financial burden of the invasion and occupation of Iraq on Duluth and Minnesota.

According to costofwar.com, that burden for Duluth is more than $91 million. Duluth's Hunger Project, a consortium of all food shelves and the soup kitchen, has a total budget of $1.2 million, a mere 1.3 percent of Duluth's Iraq war burden. Likewise, 35 percent of Duluth's K-12 students are eligible for free or reduced lunches. The total cost of the program is more than $2.2 million, just 2.5 percent of Duluth's Iraq war "contribution."

Of the $5,657 median Minnesota family income tax burden for 2005, $1,614 goes to the military with another $499 for interest on debt incurred from past military spending -- more than 37 percent.

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Minnesota is paying $7.6 billion as its share of the $318 billion-plus Iraq war. Minnesota Care's budget for all of 2006 is just 3.5 percent of this figure and MFIP's budget is less than 1 percent.

In a time of ever-increasing tuition rates, Pell grants for Minnesota students were just 4.5 percent of what Minnesota pays for the Iraq debacle.

The full text of the Northland Anti-War Coalition report from which these excerpts are taken can be found in the Sept. 13 issue of the Duluth Labor World.

Unlike the mysterious disappearance of weapons of mass destruction, the costs and consequences of these trade-offs will not vanish in the sands.

ROBERT KOSUTH

DULUTH

Carey is scary in Ellison's race for House

So Minnesota GOP Chairman Ron Carey is trying to rebrand the DFL party "the party of Ellison" by trying to scare outstate voters that a black man with unpaid parking tickets won a congressional primary in Minneapolis ("State Republicans give new name to Minnesota DFL," Sept. 18).

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Perhaps Carey should rebrand his own party "the party of Karl Rove." He should grow up. If those in charge of his party have ideas other than "stay the course in Iraq" and other than smearing opponents, I've yet to hear them. Regular people are tired of attack ads and hatred -- and we're all going out to vote in November.

CHUCK SMITH-DEWEY

LAKEVILLE.

'Free' health care not as free as it sounds

I think I've reached the end of my patience reading about "free for life" medical coverage for Duluth city employees and retirees. While this may have been the case for a window of time after 1984, it certainly was not the case when I retired in 1999.

Prior to my retirement, I was paying nearly $300 per month in medical premiums. In retirement, my wife pays $650 per year as an up-front deductible. This was waived for me for a certain period of time due to my limited amount of sick leave used while actively employed. Both my wife and I make co-payments for office visits and drug prescriptions. We are both required to purchase Medicare coverage at age 65, at which time the city becomes the secondary payer.

These were the conditions in place when I retired. I accepted them, and I'm not objecting to them now. I'm simply pointing out they do not meet the criteria for "free for life" medical care. So when is "free" actually free? I guess that depends on what the meaning of "is" is.

DEAN A. BERG

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DULUTH

Lesser evil isn't much choice

E.E. Cummings once said, "A politician is an arse upon which everyone has sat except a man."

What do we have when the voters will not vote their conscience, but vote instead for the lesser of two evils? A government without a conscience.

JIM REINE

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