Russia is a criminal oligarchy, controlled totally by Vladimir Putin.
Frank Domurad ("In U.S. today, no margin for illness," Sept. 7) writes that his aunt's lifetime savings of $250,000 were consumed paying her nursing home costs. He wrote that his aunt "had worked all her life for nothing" because at death she had nothing left to leave as inheritances to various nieces and nephews.
I have to disagree with Mr. Domurad. His aunt, in my eyes, lived a noble life. She set aside savings during her working life so that, at the end, even if misfortune struck, she had the resources to pay her own way without becoming a burden to the government or to taxpayers. From their aunt's life, these nephews and nieces received something more valuable than a cash inheritance. They saw how a self-sufficient life should be lived.
PHILIP JACOBSON, MINNEAPOLIS
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A Sept. 6 article ("Dakota County land protected but not open to the public"), and especially its headline, were very misleading. Dakota County has used money from the Farmland and Natural Areas Program to help other entities like the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and cities acquire more than 1,500 acres of natural areas that are publicly accessible.
This program has provided a triple benefit for county taxpayers because it leverages noncounty funds to purchase the land and doesn't have ongoing maintenance costs and because the land meets the ecological and public use goals of the program.
This program was approved overwhelmingly by the voters in 2002 as a water quality, natural area and farmland protection program. It is not a park acquisition program, and no one ever said it would be.
These natural lands provide numerous public benefits (this was briefly referenced in the article) including habitat for fish and wildlife, ground and surface water protection, flood storage, carbon sequestration, scenic value, etc.
If those benefits are the primary goals of the program, then the county has to work cooperatively with the folks who own this land. If those landowners don't want to sell outright, but are willing to sell an easement (usually for substantially less than fee title) with protective restrictions and not allow for the public to actually use their private land, then that is what the county and many other similar organizations and agencies have to do to accomplish their goals
Moreover, the county does negotiate for public access and several private easements to allow some kind of access while still respecting the landowners' rights.
Dakota County staff and elected leaders have managed this program with professionalism and excellence. It is a national model that has produced fantastic results in its first 10 years. County residents should be very proud.
WHITNEY CLARK; EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FRIENDS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER
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Here's an idea ("Police brutality in the age of YouTube," editorial, Sept. 6): Currently, local taxpayers have to bear the whole cost burden whenever the courts decide to monetarily compensate victims of police misbehavior. What if the law said that a portion (half? 25 percent?) of that cost would be covered by a reduction in pay allocated across all sworn officers of that police force? Perhaps peer pressure would weigh in on the side of proper behavior.
MARY ANNE PAGE, MINNEAPOLIS
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Bonnie Blodgett needs to do her history homework ("What global capitalists didn't foresee," Sept. 2). She tells us that Russia and China, among other nations, are eating our economic lunch, given their devotion to "free enterprise."
Russia is a criminal oligarchy, controlled totally by Vladimir Putin and his gang of cutthroat gangsters, who have gained economic power through their subservience to one man. China is a free-enterprise country in Blodgett's dreams only. A privileged Communist Party elite controls every aspect of the economy, largely to their own hugely remunerative benefit.
Blodgett also refers to the downside of "unfettered free trade" as practiced in America and other countries. There's no such thing, nor has there been since the late 1890s. Every aspect of our economy is micromanaged by an army of regulators and politicians.
We live in a limited free-market economy that has produced more wealth for more people than any other nation or system on the planet. If we wander from that path, we condemn more Americans and others around the globe to lower standards of living and a more nasty ecological environment.
MARK H. REED, PLYMOUTH
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For 18 months, the Syrian government has been at war with its own people, killing at least 23,000 and displacing many thousands more. And now that despicable government is getting help from Iran.
But, in order to give that help, Iran needs the aid of Iraq, and is getting it. In short, Iraq is helping Syria slaughter its own people. Iraq, the country we "liberated" from the tyrannical dictator Saddam Hussein at the cost of 4,500 thousand American lives, many more crippled and hundreds of billions of dollars spent.
Early on in the Iraq war, it was said that the real winner of the war would be Iran. I think we now know who the losers are.
DOUG WILLIAMS, ROBBINSDALE
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.