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Ideology vs. pragmatism

A recent Dispatch letter characterized the Governor Romney vs. President Obama economic choice as austerity vs. hope. A rebuttal letter preferred discipline vs. punishment. Using few words to signify complex economic issues is not ideal. But since we’re at it, I suggest the words ideology vs. pragmatism.

Ideology means a stance derived primarily from theoretical ideas, in this case rigid concepts applied to all economies, whether healthy or sick. Part of this is minimalist: minimal taxes, fiscal regulation, government workers, teachers, entitlements, and stimulus (Romney recommended bankruptcy for General Motors). Market forces are considered best for most things, including health care.

Pragmatism means policies supported by history or experience that are not necessarily the same for both sick and healthy economies. Pragmatic recommendations for sick economies are temporary stimulus (help for GM and banks), tax increases for the wealthy, focused regulation, and retaining government workers that help maintain buying power. Health cost control requires either universal mandate or single payer.

Both Romney and Obama agree that too much debt is bad. But although President Bush at first seemed against debt and his first Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, really was, Cheney convinced President Bush that Reagan proved deficits didn’t matter. O’Neill was replaced. By end-term the deficit and wealth disparity soared and the economy tanked. Bush also fulfilled his pledge to end “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” which removed dozens of gay experts in Arabic languages from military intelligence services before 9-11.

The point is that politicized economics do not exist in isolation from other partisan issues. A mandate in one thing becomes a mandate for anything. A big price may have been paid for a win on an ideological doctrine of religious purity. Some promises are easier to keep than others. Some things haven’t changed. History repeats itself. “Voter beware.”

Dick Peterson


Student loans’ interest doubling

I have several grandchildren who have Stafford college loans. They graduated with honors and are working now. However, the jobs available hardly pay enough for them to cover their living expenses. Now they are worried about the interest on their student loans doubling.

It is wrong for Congress to ignore the importance of this to our country’s brightest minds. We need college educated citizens. In just seven days — July 1, the interest rate on government subsidized Stafford loans is due to double.

I have one grandchild who is married with a disabled child. There are extra medical expenses that were not anticipated. There is doubt how they will make it if interest is double.

My husband and I get less than 1/2 percent interest on our savings account. Banks can borrow money at near-zero interest. I implore, beg, plead, with our representatives in Congress to make sure the Stafford student loans are not doubled.

Please do this for our future leaders!

Sara Dunlap


We didn’t

get the word

USA Today is reporting that the price of gasoline is dropping nationwide, except for California. They forgot to include Minnesota. For the past several days it keeps going up in Minnesota. What is going on here. Didn’t the Minnesota gas dealers get the word?

Lincoln H. Mueller Sr. 


Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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