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Et Cetera ...

December 15, 2012
Gary Andersen, Lee Smith , Fairmont Sentinel

No limits, full disclosure

Minnesota campaign regulators are recommending higher limits on campaign contributions. The plan is to get more money in the hands of candidates so they can control their message. Money is surging into independent groups since a court ruling said such groups are not subject to limits.

State regulators have the right idea, but aren't going far enough. Donations are the equivalent of free speech, since they are used to get out a candidate's message. There shouldn't be limits. Simply require all contributions to be made public, so citizens know who gave how much to whom.

Group helps students

We offer our thanks to Fairmont Dollars for Scholars for all it has done to further the educations of local students. This year, the group handed out 132 scholarships, each averaging about $1,000.

Dollars for Scholars is built on a growing endowment. This year, it reached $2.3 million. Interest earnings fund the scholarships.

The group says possible tax changes may make donating to Dollars for Scholars prior to year's end a good idea. Anyone considering doing so can contact president Loren Dunham at (507) 238-1172, or Liz Wheeler at

What else is coming?

Businesses and individuals all across the country are watching with trepidation as the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare," continues to unfold in the form of regulations. A new $63 charge to cover people with pre-existing conditions emerged this week. It will cost large companies tens of millions of dollars, and they are likely to pass it on to workers.

A whole set of known taxes and fees in Obamacare will hit the economy in January 2014. And then how many more will emerge as regulators draft more rules?

Why is it so complicated?

The federal farm bill has expired and lawmakers are unlikely to consider a new one until a new Congress is seated in January. Many programs, like food stamps, fall under the bill but have little to do with ag production. They probably shouldn't be in there.

As for production itself, it is sometimes very difficult to imagine why farming - a rather straightforward job - must operate under such a complicated array of federal programs, including those offering price supports, crop insurance and conservation incentives.

We need to get back to talking about "freedom to farm," or to fail, a reality faced by every other business.



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