Readers Write: (Aug. 3): Ebola outbreak, CEO pay, Archbishop Nienstedt, problem employees, parenting, fire pits

  • Updated: August 1, 2014 - 6:34 PM

Distribution of information can help doctors and the public address critical health issues.

The devastating news about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a call to action not only for international medical and health organizations and governments but to private citizens as well. And, as the sad death of a Minnesota man from Liberia shows, the outbreak affects all of us in this interconnected world.

While there is no vaccine for Ebola, there is much that governments and health organizations can do to treat victims and prevent its spread. As Ken Isaacs of Samaritan’s Purse wrote at, “A disaster has descended upon West Africa, and it deserves the full attention of the international community,” including more public health and awareness information.

Minnesotans can support international health organizations and urge our government to work with African countries to help prevent the spread of Ebola.

At Books For Africa, a St. Paul-based nonprofit, we have teamed with Merck over the years to distribute tens of thousands of Merck Medical Manuals for use by medical professionals. The distribution of this important information has helped to provide medical education and reference materials across the African continent, and has helped doctors and the public to address critical health issues such as the spread of Ebola. If we all work together, good things happen.

Medical books, donated by Merck and by hundreds of Minnesotans, can make a difference as we all do our part to fight Ebola and other deadly diseases.

Patrick Plonski, St. Paul

The writer is executive director of Books For Africa.


Let’s break down the components

After reading the July 27 business section article on CEOs who are making millions (“Paying up”), I began to wonder: What exactly is it that makes these guys so valuable? What do they bring to the game? Surely, if a board is going to give someone $10 million a year, it will make very sure the CEO has all the tools and more, right?

Assuming we are in a market economy, we must ask: What are those skills in such short supply and high demand that the possessor can demand $10 million? Well, first let’s be generous and say that half consists of “intangibles,” such as being a visionary and a trusted and respected leader.

Now we need to account for the other $5 million. Here’s what comes to mind: (1) has technical and industry expertise; (2) knows the business inside and out; (3) is a skilled negotiator; (4) is able to make tough decisions, and (5) is a very good manager

Surely, the list is missing some skills, but really, you can’t find those skills for a simple $1 million? It’s gotta be 10 or 20 or 30?

Board members, if you are truly skilled and responsible and informed, you should be able to clearly describe what those requisite CEO skills are, and why they cost so much.

Douglas Smith, Minneapolis



Seems like the pope needs some prodding

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