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Readers Write (Dec. 13): Right-to-work, fiscal cliff, snow removal, orchestra

  • December 12, 2012 - 7:29 PM


Unions ought to earn members' allegiance


As a 25-year member of the Minnesota Association of Public Employees (MAPE), I applaud Michigan's adoption of a right-to-work law ("Michigan passes sweeping limits on union power," Dec. 12). I have no right to "free association" in Minnesota. I am forced to belong to and pay dues to a union that does not represent my political or personal values.

Public unions in particular are the most insidious form of unionism. MAPE is "negotiating" with the very governor it helped elect with lots of union dollars. Additionally, many members of public unions have little appreciation for the burden to taxpayers in supporting our retirement, salaries and benefits, nor do they account for the economic realities of the private economy at this time.

This aside, the real issue is if unions are so great, why must people be forced to join? If unions offer legitimate benefits and add value, why can't they stand on their merits and principles? Why are they so afraid of free choice? Simple answer -- in the case of public unions, they don't add value. Primarily, they launder money for the Democratic Party. "Right to work" means the end of this stranglehold.


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Revenue isn't going to solve the problem


With all of the time and space the media is devoting to President Obama's and the Democrats' stand on taxing the richest 2 percent, one would think that, if that policy were enacted, the revenue generated would solve or at least reduce a large part of the federal deficit. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! At most it would reduce the deficit by a measly 7 percent.

What is really happening is that both political parties are getting people to focus on class warfare, a highly emotionally charged issue of relatively minor fiscal importance, while ignoring the elephants in the room. The elephants are the big drivers of the deficit: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the defense budget. Simply stated, not dealing with these issues is not sustainable. Common sense says the focus of time and energy should be on solving the big issues first.


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Some are thoughtless; others are thoughtful


The Dec. 11 Letter of the Day ("Don't make your snow someone else's problem") was very interesting to me . I have been trying to get Minneapolis to enforce its existing laws about putting snow in the street.

Many commercial plowers push snow from driveways across the street and create massive piles along the curb. Sooner or later this makes the street narrow. I have called my City Council member, and she won't do anything about it. I have called 311, and the city sends out a crew to move the snow, at taxpayers' expense.

I believe this cost should be borne by the people whose driveway it came from. The city says it can't do that, because it did not see the violation happening. I cannot believe that a policeman or two have not seen snow getting pushed into the streets. Commercial operators should know and obey the existing laws or be banned from plowing in the city.


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While not disputing the complaint of the Dec. 11 letter, I feel compelled to tell a different story. I live in the Uptown, a Minneapolis neighborhood where houses are very close together and streets are always tight with vehicles, so a large snowfall means the conundrum of where to put snow and how. Sometimes I have felt as though I must literally shovel it straight up into the air, hoping the wind will then take it over the drifts.

I don't own a snowblower, so removal is the backbreaking kind. During last weekend's storm, I was working and my husband was out of town. I arrived home Sunday evening, anticipating slogging through it with my little orange shovel, but found that some anonymous neighbor had made a sidewalk-wide path with a snowblower around my entire city block, blowing snow away from the street, but also out of our paths. I easily cleared my front steps and retired for the night.

On Monday morning, the same thing happened in the alley. By the time I made it outside, my driveway had been anonymously cleared and perfectly, with snow not blocking the alley path. I don't yet know who did this work, seemingly making my snow their problem, but I see this kind of behavior all the time, which in my opinion balances out the universe. Many thanks to my thoughtful neighbors!


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A wakeup call can lead to better times


Shortly after I got out of the Navy in 1970, I went to a concert given by my hometown orchestra, the illustrious Boston Symphony, whose origins date back to 1881. In the lobby, I was handed a single sheet of paper, folded into three sections, on which the evening's program was listed. The revered orchestra had run out of money to print real program booklets. Sometime later, a mortified patron donated all the money necessary to hire a good printing firm.

The other day, an article in the Star Tribune noted that the Boston Symphony now has an endowment of $387 million. With the assistance of such savvy money managers as Fidelity's Peter Lynch, it has regained fiscal stability. I believe that one-page program had a lot to do with waking up the Boston Symphony's board members and patrons to the exigency of their situation. I sincerely hope that the current impasse with our magnificent Minnesota Orchestra will do the same for our patrons, concertgoers and board members. The orchestra musicians need support from everyone interested in fine music.


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