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Help start a broader, health discussion Aug. 15

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A primary topic today in the United States is national spending and the federal debt. There seems to be no agreement between the two primary national political parties on how to solve these problems.  

We will soon be facing the prospect of a government shutdown if we cannot find solutions and that means talking to one another in a cooperative way and setting aside party politics. 

What I think has to be done is to decide what is most important to this society and in what order.

Should education be first or jobs? Maybe it should be infrastructure. Some would say it should be energy and others would say the environment. Many believe it is terrorism or invasion of this country and loss of freedom.  

Whatever the rank, we must decide soon before our whole deck of cards comes crashing down on us and I know many of you believe this is no exaggeration.

In your own personal finances, you have to make choices as to what is most important to you and spend accordingly on how important each category might be. Why would federal spending and financial decisions be any different? There is only so much money to go around and a healthy society should know what its most important priorities are.  

Every spending category must be considered. Priorities may change now and then but we can change accordingly. 

If Congress cannot rank our most important needs, then it is up to us, the public, to begin these discussions. That has been initiated across Minnesota with the Minnesota Arms Spending Alternatives Project (mnasap.org).

Red Wing citizens also have tried to get a discussion started on spending. We are concerned about the biggest spending category: national defense (includes more than just the Pentagon). This is 59 percent of the federal budget. Defense spending has more than doubled since Sept. 11, 2001. 

The majority may say that national defense is the most important, but to me it just seems to be assumed rather than carefully analyzed. If we decreased defense spending by 50 percent, would we be attacked and lose our freedom? 

If we continue to cut domestic spending, like education and jobs programs, what are the implications of that? Might not the hordes of uneducated, jobless citizens be a bigger threat? 

Is that why we Americans are arming ourselves to such a degree because we are worrying about anarchy? We don't have to let things get that bad. There are attainable solutions.

People of Red Wing and the surrounding area, we can begin to discuss this at a public meeting 7 p.m. Aug 15 at 615 W. Sixth St. at the First Lutheran Church. (First Lutheran is not endorsing mnasap.org , just graciously providing a venue.)  

The theme will be "Support the Troops: What Does This Mean?" Speaking will be Paul Riedner, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer with mnasap.org and local representatives from Beyond the Yellow Ribbon. We want to discuss how our veterans can come home to healthy, vibrant communities where they find a good job and support their families.  

Isn't that a healthy discussion to commence for all of us? It can begin right here in Pretty Red Wing.

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