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Readers Write (July 24): Detroit, campaign finance, paper's priorities, motorcycle accidents, VIP value

  • July 23, 2013 - 7:08 PM

Detroit’s Woes

Thanks to liberals, city spent beyond its means

Commentary writer Paul Krugman (“No, Detroit is not the latest Greece,” July 23) argues that Detroit’s long descent into bankruptcy was not “fundamentally a tale of fiscal irresponsibility” but rather that the city was “for the most part just an innocent victim of market forces,” apparently referring to the long decline of the auto industry in the city. I’m confused — did the city of Detroit’s government produce cars?

Krugman apparently believes that government officials have no responsibility to reduce spending when economic conditions dictate that taxpayers can no longer afford the spending that occurred in more prosperous times. Instead, it’s OK to just keep borrowing and spending until you end up bankrupt and can’t provide even basic government services, and that’s not “fiscal irresponsibility.”

That this is Krugman’s opinion isn’t surprising, since he advocates those same borrow-and-spend government policies for the United States as a whole.

Paul Daggett, Minneapolis

• • •

Recent letters have offered opinions on Detroit’s bankruptcy, but none have come right out and said liberalism defeated Detroit, so I will.

In the 1950s, Detroit’s population was about 2 million. At that time, it had the highest standard of living in the United States, and some called the city the “Paris of the west.”

Detroit has been almost exclusively under Democratic control for about 60 years. Detroit’s last Republican mayor was in the late ’50s; it last elected a Republican to the City Council in 1970.

Robert Reich, secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, opined the reason for Detroit’s bankruptcy is because the rich left the city leaving the poor behind. I think one reason they left was correctly addressed by columnist Stephen Henderson in the Detroit Free Press, who wrote: Detroiters “pay more kinds of taxes, at higher rates, than any other citizens in Michigan … The city’s tax structure is, by sheer numbers, among its most glaring problems.”

Pay attention other large cities. If we do not learn from history, history will repeat itself.

Bob Jentges, North Mankato, Minn.

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Campaign Finance

The race to raise money overwhelms substance

The other day I received an e-mail asking me to contribute to Wendy Davis in Texas, who may or may not run for governor. I might vote for her if I lived there, but I do not and have no business trying to influence the outcome of an election in a state where I do not live. Crowdsourcing is foolish because a bigger, louder crowd will always form to counter the message.

When a good candidate, whose views are espoused by the majority of his constituents, cannot get his message to the voters because a group of zealots from Timbuktu gather enough money to drown him out with endless ads, that is not democracy. It is expensive folly that repeats again and again because the only possible defense is to raise more money, and the message is no longer about ideas and solutions, it is about clever, gimmicky ads designed to increase cash flow.

The failure of Congress to limit campaign fundraising and the Citizens United decision were not good for Republicans or Democrats.

If you do not want Planned Parenthood or the NRA, George Soros or the Koch brothers, tree-huggers or climate deniers controlling the agenda, stop sending them your hard-earned money.

Jill Page, Rockford, Minn.

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In The News

Here’s a crack at rating the paper’s priorities

As a longtime Star Tribune subscriber, I’ve become aware of what the top 10 issues are confronting Minnesotans today, based on the amount of space your paper seems to devote to them.

1. Tax-subsidized sports stadiums

2. Bicyclists and bike trails

3. The Minnesota Orchestra (Actually tied with #2)

4. Gay marriage

5. The very sad and numerous murders, particularly on the North Side of Minneapolis

6. Obamacare

7. The Martin/Zimmerman trial

8. A baby born in Britain

9. Minorities in our community

10. Beetles and bees

Note: Our illustrious state Legislature barely placed out of the top 10.

Dave Rand, Minneapolis

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Motorcycle Accidents

Consider all the factors in assessing numbers

The Star Tribune has made a point of emphasizing recent motorcycle accidents — excessively, in my opinion (“Motorcycle deaths hit boomers hard,” July 22). The main responsibility lies with the motorcyclist in most cases. This is not to say that mishaps don’t occur, but the fact that many of these accidents are avoidable and don’t involve another vehicle speaks volumes to me.

So what are the common problems for motorcyclists? From my experience: speeding, fast acceleration, aggressive riding, inexperience, and alcohol and drugs. Many of the motorcyclists involved in recent crashes had blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08 percent or higher. A large number of two-vehicle fatal motorcycle crashes involved a vehicle turning left while the motorcycle, ridden in an aggressive manner, was going straight, passing or overtaking the vehicle. Likewise, a large portion of motorcycle mishaps involved riders with less than a year of riding experience.

In fairness, I would like to know the number of unavoidable crashes by experienced, responsible riders.

Bruce Burton, Bloomington

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The Price You Pay

You don’t have to spend a lot to be entertained

As I read C.J.’s July 23 account of Paul Douglas spending $1,000 or so on VIP tickets for a Beyoncé concert, I thought about the “Tribute to Elvis” show that I recently watched at Pepito’s Parkway Theater. For $30, my wife and I sat in front-row leather couch seats listening to Anthony Shore sing Elvis’ songs better than Elvis himself could have sung them. Having attended many “big-buck” concerts, I am well aware of what you get when you pay those prices.

But getting the most from your dollar often comes when you spend $30 to listen to someone who connects personally to his adoring audience and simply sings his songs.

George Larson, Minneapolis

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