May my family’s loss be a message to others

I just experienced the loss of my beloved grandson, Jason Johnson, in a tragic car accident. He was 32. I cannot begin to express how devastating this is for our family; it is, literally, the worst time in our life.

Jason made a “decision” to drive home from a bar. The point of this letter is twofold: Had he known the grief this would cause his loved ones, he may have thought twice, because he loved us. He has left behind two little children, who will never truly know their daddy, and if someone — anyone — reading this will think of their family before getting behind the wheel, it would bring me some sense of peace. Think of our family before you turn the key.


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Military spending hinders benevolence

An Aug. 16 letter stated that capitalism is more benevolent to the poor and disadvantaged than are government programs. It is not capitalism that is the provider of benevolence; capitalism always takes. It is the people who give.

We now find ourselves in a society which is giving less because of choice but also because of hardship. A major source of this hardship is the financial burden placed on citizens by the military-industrial complex and the wars that will inevitably occur. You do not create a military machine like ours and not use it.

Abundant U.S. military spending leaves much less money for benevolent giving by the people. The next time you write out a check to the IRS, think of what good you could really do for others and how much more you could give without a war tax.

BILL HABEDANK, Red Wing, Minn.

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There’s enough corn to go around

According to a recent World Bank study, it’s high oil prices and commodity speculators driving food costs, not the use of corn in ethanol (“Yes — reconsider that ethanol blend rate,” Aug. 16). Some of my fellow farmers in the poultry sector don’t recognize this — and when farmers start fighting with one another, agriculture loses.

I grow corn and have never lashed out against my friends in the poultry industry. Unfortunately, some poultry farmers are attempting to turn the clock back to $2 corn by attacking ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Fact is, poultry production has increased since the RFS was passed, and the industry is making money. Ethanol has created a new market for corn farmers, which in turn has been good for all of agriculture.

Besides, there’s plenty of corn to feed the world and fuel our cars. The entire Minnesota turkey industry feeds 36 million bushels of corn per year. Corn farmers in Minnesota alone harvested 1.37 billion bushels last year. We also get about 34 pounds of feed as a byproduct whenever 2.8 gallons of ethanol is made from a bushel of corn.

It’s not right for poultry farmers to tell me where I can sell my corn, just as it wouldn’t be right for me to tell them not to sell in certain markets.

JOHN MAGES, Belgrade, Minn.

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Twin Cities & Western intentions are proper

In an Aug. 7 commentary about the Southwest Corridor light-rail project (“We’ve planned enough. It’s time to decide”), Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman wrote, “I believe that Twin Cities & Western Railroad is taking advantage of the conflict between the two cities to advance its own business interests.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

If we were trying to “advance our business interests,” we would insist on enhancements to our current position. We are not. We are only seeking to preserve our existing ability to move freight safely and economically for our customers. That is our obligation under federal law.

TC&W’s issue is not some last-minute gambit. We clearly told project consultants in 2010 that their reroute proposal did not meet long-established railroad safety and operational standards. But, to our dismay, the very same plan appeared in the 2012 draft environmental impact statement. Finally, the project planners have realized that the physics and economics of freight rail do matter and can no longer be ignored.

That being said, we remain ready to cooperate in finding a solution that brings Southwest LRT to life in a way that is compatible with riders, neighbors, bikers, and, of course, TC&W and its customers.

MARK WEGNER; president, TC&W Railroad

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Never cry Wilf …

The revelations from a court case in New Jersey that Zygi Wilf may not be a straight shooter should come as no surprise. What is surprising is that at this late date in the deal the governor has tapped the Dorsey law firm to practice due diligence. I would expect this kind of disingenuous behavior from the other side of the aisle, but not from a DFL Leviathan.

If this deal turns out to be a white elephant, there won’t be a fig leaf big enough to cover up what stadium backers wished would remain private. The harangue “we might lose the Vikings” rings hollow when you are dealing with a proven cheat and large amounts of taxpayer’s money. If this ballpark deal does head south, I will waste my vote on an independent candidate the next time around.