Given that Neal St. Anthony often writes about small business, it strikes me as odd that in his Aug. 5 column “Proven-player Amazon takes heat as Foxconn is cheered,” he fails to consider the ways that Amazon is stifling independent businesses and entrepreneurs.

He opens the column by citing the “probing research” of my organization, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. But he quickly changes course, and while talking about the $1.1 billion that Amazon has received to fund its expansion since 2005, barely questions whether such corporate handouts are the best use of taxpayer money, or what impact they have on the independent businesses whose stories he often tells.

It’s not just the subsidies, either. Amazon’s increasing dominance as both a retailer and a platform is affecting independent businesses’ ability to access the market and curtailing their ability to compete on fair terms. The economy is feeling the impact: The number of new businesses being started is at a 30-year low, a concerning trend that economists are increasingly linking with the rise of giant firms like Amazon.

While St. Anthony praises Amazon and Jeff Bezos as a “business-and-wealth builder,” he overlooks the structural ways that Amazon is reshaping the U.S. economy in its own image, to the detriment of access to opportunity, open markets and robust competition, local governments’ revenue sources and more. The Star Tribune’s readers deserve a more balanced assessment of a company that increasingly affects all of us.

Olivia LaVecchia, Minneapolis

The writer is a research associate for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.


All our problems, and Editorial Board wants still more people

The Star Tribune Editorial Board claims, in essence, that mass immigration and mass amnesty — i.e., the Obama plan — are necessary for a successful Minnesota and nation (“An ill-timed plan to pinch immigration,” Aug. 9).

The editors fail to understand that any economy requiring constant infusions of people is a Ponzi scheme economy and is destined to fail. The larger it becomes, the greater the calamity. The question to answer is when will there be enough people? The editors seem to say never!

What is a resource and environmentally sustainable population level for Minnesota and the U.S., and what is immigration’s role in achieving it?

The Editorial Board seems to think it’s still 1880, when the land was nearly free and abundant, and when Minneapolis had 47,000; St. Paul, 41,000; and the U.S., 51 million people. Today it’s 335 million in the nation and growing exponentially.

Pew Research states that by 2015, post-1970 immigration had increased the U.S. population by 72 million to an already unsustainable level, and will swell this country unsustainably by another 103 million by 2065. That 175 million increase is solely from immigration; the editors want it to increase!

Already overpopulated with looming environmental, economic and social dilemmas now occurring and more on the near horizon, remember back in 1972 the U.S. Population Commission said the U.S. needs to stop population growth. It’s good for us, they concluded!

After such a huge increase, it is very difficult to stop. Becoming a self-fulfilling policy, the resulting changes in congressional representation shift power, and government money flows from low- to high-immigration states.

Finally, the immigration that the newspaper encourages merely subsidizes employers, flooding job markets and almost guaranteeing that uneconomic companies survive.

The best thing the U.S. could do for its economy, environment and workers is have a 10-year immigration moratorium, followed by immigration of 150,000 all-inclusive per year.

Dell Erikson, Minneapolis

• • •

President Donald Trump is right when he tells Americans that America will be better served through tighter immigration controls that reduce illegal immigration while encouraging English-speaking skilled workers to immigrate to America.

One need only look at the contributions and successful assimilation patterns of immigrants from India to see the merits of Trump’s plan.

According to a March 2014 study by the Pew Research Center, immigrants from India are the most highly educated racial or ethnic group in American society. About 70 percent of Indian immigrants who are 25 or older hold college degrees (2.5 times the rate of the overall U.S. population).

The Pew study revealed that Indian immigrants are among the most successful people to assimilate into American society as well. The study revealed that Indian immigrants had a 2010 median household income of $88,000 per year (considerably higher than the $49,800 median income of all Americans).

Furthermore, the researchers pointed out that only 9 percent of Indians live in poverty (compared with 13 percent of the U.S. population).

American companies employ Indian-American leaders in nearly every imaginable industry. They have left their favorable mark in the entrepreneurial arena as well.

America’s immigration policy needs to incorporate a variety of considerations in order to ensure that a fair, humane and sensible immigration plan is in place.

However, nowhere in our American Constitution does it say that we need to be stupid. The Indian immigration experience is a good example of how to do it smart.

Corby Pelto, Plymouth


A solid vision? Not so, and the opposition shows it

The Star Tribune Editorial Board recently supported the St. Paul Ford site zoning plan (“A solid vision for St. Paul Ford site,” Aug. 7). The editorial appeared to be taken from the city of St. Paul’s Ford site promotional materials. The Editorial Board, like St. Paul officials, ignored inconvenient truths: The current plan is ill-conceived, and public opposition is strong and growing.

On July 28, St. Paul’s Planning Commission unanimously approved the plan, declaring that it had considered input from the community. This is not so. More than 1,600 signatures have been collected on a petition opposing the plan and calling for reasonable changes. The city’s own tally of public comments before the Planning Commission vote showed that the plan had a dismal 34 percent approval rating.

The current plan will now go to the St. Paul City Council, where it should be rejected and reworked. City officials have shown brazen disregard for opposing viewpoints. It’s time to ask: What will it take for elected officials to attend to their constituents’ concerns rather than deferring to special interests?

For more information about Ford site issues, upcoming events and ways to make your voice heard, follow Neighbors for a Livable St. Paul on Facebook and at

Kate M. Hunt, St. Paul