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JEFF WHEELER • Star Tribune,

Readers Write: (July 4): Trucks on the roads, patriotism, U smoking ban, housing

  • July 3, 2014 - 5:12 PM

A June 4 letter writer (“Nagging problem: Trucks at rush hour”) blamed semitrailer trucks for impeding her from getting to work on time but didn’t account for the 3 million licensed drivers in the metro or the truck driver shortage.

Not having semis on the road during rush hour would be impossible for freight companies and businesses. Delivering during off-peak hours requires extra staff for the businesses, driving up costs for the consumer.

According to federal Transportation Department statistics, 7 percent of auto fatalities in Minnesota involve a large truck, while 8.1 percent are auto/pedestrian, and 54.6 percent involved lack of restraints such as seat belts. Blaming the trucking industry for slow commutes or accidents that tie up the roadways is ridiculous. If the drivers of passenger vehicles were as regulated as the trucking industry is, the accident rate would drop significantly. As a truck driver, I see countless drivers texting, eating, arguing, changing clothes and otherwise driving inappropriately or cutting off other drivers to get somewhere one minute faster. I like to think that if we were all a little more considerate on the road, we would get to our destinations earlier and alive.

Chad Tucker, Osseo

PATRIOTISM

Too much or too little focus on the military?

Many thanks to Steve Berg for his thoughtful and well-written commentary “Support troops, sure, but celebrate all of America” (June 29). I, too, served in the military (probably about the same time as Berg), and I, too, readily acknowledge the value of our military and the dedication of our troops. At the same time, I am sensing an increasing propensity to shape and define loyalty, patriotism and citizenship solely or almost completely in military terms. The danger of this is that it often diminishes the relevance and importance of other aspects of our country and culture, for example, education, caregiving and critical thinking. So while the military deserves our salute, I join Berg in his suggestion that there are many others that should be honored as well.

David Kaiser, Apple Valley

• • •

Berg’s commentary summed up my feelings and probably most veterans of wars. We were not heroes. Don’t compare World War II to all of the political wars since. One was for our national and international survival.

Most, if not all, since then have been political wars initiated by hawks who avoided military service at all costs when they were eligible to serve. Expressing this opinion will usually get one labeled as unpatriotic and nonsupportive of our military men and women. In reality, they know — just as we did in Vietnam — the difference between fighting to defend the security of the United States and fighting to avoid losing a nonwinnable war that we should never have initiated in the first place.

Al Mattson, Plymouth

• • •

I appreciate Berg’s service to our country but disagree with his sentiments. First off, July 4 celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, not our armed forces. But more significantly, the following excerpt from a poem by Charles M. Province is a far better response for him.

 

 

“It is the soldier, not the reporter

Who has given us the freedom of the press.

 

 

It is the soldier, not the poet

Who has given us the freedom of speech.

 

 

It is the soldier, not the campus organizer

Who gives us freedom to protest. …

 

 

It is the soldier who salutes the flag,

Who serves beneath the flag,

And whose coffin is draped by the flag,

Who allows the protester to burn the flag.”

 

 

There should be a parade down Nicollet Mall everyday, 24/7, rain or shine, to honor all who served.

Bob Rabinovitz, Minnetonka

 

TOBACCO

U ban is just a different way to shun people

This week the University of Minnesota declared its Twin Cities campus smoke- and tobacco-free. As many Minnesotans rejoice, I ask what price freedom you place on freedom. I am an Iraq war veteran who just started attending the university in the spring. I did not start smoking until I was deployed overseas, and ever since I have used it to cope with anxiety. I understand that some will say this is not a good coping mechanism. Yet taking pills with side effects of suicide does not seem very appeasing to me.

I feel the new policy at the University of Minnesota is going to negatively affect my ability to attend. That is just the first issue for me personally. The university’s “share the air” policy is catchy, but misleading at best. At the campus, there are countless diesel trucks spewing exhaust in the air. How well are they “sharing” the air? If sharing is what the university wanted, why didn’t it just incorporate smoking areas around campus? Smokers in Minnesota are often treated as the redheaded stepchild of the state. The state keeps telling us how bad we are, even as we fund a stadium and many other things around the state.

I leave you with this: Why is a publicly funded institution banning something that is completely legal for adults?

Ryan Alan Carlson, Eden Prairie

 

HOUSING

In Twin Cities area, affordability is crucial

The June 27 editorial on housing trends (“Big change ahead in Twin Cities housing”) underscores the Metropolitan Council’s needed focus on density but does not mention affordability, which is likely to be the thorniest housing concern the council must address. The paper by University of Arizona real estate Prof. Arthur C. Nelson that was highlighted in the editorial identifies an increase of 131,000 very-low-income households in the Twin Cities by 2040. This means the population of those who will not be able to afford decent housing without some assistance is projected to increase by one-third.

Good public policy will lead to increased opportunity and greater dignity for low-income seniors and families, while housing policy that ignores their affordability challenge will mean greater concentrations of poverty, rising homelessness, and the attendant social ills such as increased lead poisoning or poor school performance. The council’s housing plan, to be released this fall, must lay out policies and strategies regarding affordability along with those encouraging more walkable, amenity-filled neighborhoods.

Chip Halbach, St. Paul

 

The writer is director of the Minnesota Housing Partnership.

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