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Continued: Readers Write: (Aug. 26): Commuting times, the prison system, invasive species, golf and the middle class, the digital age, Ebola survivor

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  • Last update: August 25, 2014 - 6:44 PM

It is the canary in the middle-class coal mine

I have been reading about the decline of golf in the Star Tribune’s recent coverage and have been amazed that no one has pointed to the obvious reason for the decline of the sport — the decline of middle-class incomes.

Those incomes peaked at the same time that golf did between 2000 and 2002. Plain and simple, more people could afford to play golf than ever before. Since then, wages have been stagnant or have declined for the entire bottom 70 percent of the distribution. During this time, cities lost aid from the state that lead to an increase in property taxes, and the cost of education at Minnesota state colleges and universities has increased dramatically. Other costs, such as health insurance premiums, increased more than 200 percent between 2000 and 2012, while employer contributions to those plans were reduced or almost eliminated. The killer blow was when the middle class lost a huge portion of its wealth during the recession.

Eliminating an expensive sport like golf is a no-brainer if you are struggling financially. Golf clubs and balls are not cheap, nor are green fees. Plus, you have to have the time for a three- to five-hour round of golf, and people don’t have that if they work more than one job.

Golf is like a canary in a coal mine. It is a reflection of the economic health of the middle class. Unfortunately, I don’t foresee the decline reversing anytime soon.

William Bloomberg, Eden Prairie



Is convenience worth the threats to privacy?

The electronic economy appears to be a failed experiment. Target, Supervalu and others (the list is very long) have had their computer databases hacked, with highly valuable personal information leaking out every which way, and with unknown and unforeseeable consequences for individual consumers and the larger economy.

But the convenience! It’s so important, compared to actual functionality, right?

We were better off with checks and paper money and paper records. We are better off paying our bills and communicating via the U.S. Postal Service. Every e-mail is subject to search. Every electronic payment is monitored. Cellphones allow all users to be tracked down.

Go back 30 years and try to tell people of that day what we are willing to sacrifice for convenience, and you would get a unanimous “No! That will never happen! We value our privacy.”

But step by incremental step, Americans have forfeited privacy and have chosen an electronic sieve for our system of financial records and payments. My bet is people will cling to it until the entire economy collapses, worldwide.

Mark R. Jacobson, Minneapolis



Many people do see God’s hand in healing

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