Readers Write (Oct. 9): Shutdown, manufacturing, personal care assistants, orchestra, mining

  • Updated: October 8, 2013 - 6:25 PM

U.S. is losing its edge as Congress continues to dither.

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SHUTDOWN

U.S. is losing its edge as Congress plays games

After 25-plus years as an oncologist and cancer researcher, this is what I hear daily from patients: “What does the research show? Is there anything new for me?”

Here’s what’s happening to medical research in the United States. Research funding through our once-prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH) is at an all-time low, as measured by the percentage of grants they are able to fund. This was the situation before the sequester. The sequester, which started in March 2013, cut another $2 billion from the NIH. Now with the government shutdown, the NIH is essentially closed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has lost two-thirds of its employees because of the shutdown. Remember the fungal meningitis outbreak last year due to tainted steroids from the New England Compounding Center? The detective work to sort out that deadly situation came from the CDC. If a new, aggressive flu strain develops this fall, we need the CDC to track its path, identify it and help to prepare an effective vaccine.

Research labs are closing. Fewer and fewer people are pursuing careers in research. We will all pay dearly for this.

LYNN C. HARTMANN, M.D., Rochester

• • •

This from Tuesday’s Variety Section: “Essay contest encourages kids to work together.” The contest, sponsored by Greater Twin Cities United Way and the Star Tribune, encourages kids in grades three through five to write about what they are doing to unite their neighborhoods and communities. One would think members of Congress could submit their entries. They are, after all, acting like children. But it’s not their age that prevents them from entering. Participants are encouraged to be concise and inspirational, to give examples of what they have done to put others first, to make their communities a better place. Sorry, Congress, you’re out. Good luck, kids!

EARL JOHNSTON, Minnetonka

• • •

Say the two parties were switched around — Republicans in control of the presidency and the Senate, with Democrats in control of the House. And say the Democratic House speaker would not allow a vote on raising the debt limit until the Republicans agreed to fully fund government-paid universal health care for all U.S. citizens. I wonder what the reaction would be to this.

DAVID STACK, Minneapolis

MANUFACTURING

Solve housing needs to keep outstate growing

Thanks for some great recent articles in your Business section, especially those featuring very good news about business in outstate Minnesota. On Monday, for instance, there was an article about GVL Poly of Litchfield, a small but growing firm using 3-D printing technology purchased from Stratasys of Eden Prairie, another great recent success story for a Minnesota company (“New technology, new sales”). Not long ago, there was a story about rapid expansion by manufacturing firms in Fergus Falls, farther removed from the metro area. It is terrific to learn that outstate firms are helping lead the way in growing the manufacturing sector in Minnesota and the nation. Let’s hope this continues and that the problems with lack of housing in these areas can be resolved and that both housing and manufacturing can thrive together to the benefit of all.

RODNEY E. JOHNSON, Minneapolis

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