A letter writer from July 18 wrote: “The truly significant division of our society is between the employed and the employers” (“Don’t let fake categories divide us”). In one sense, I do agree with him. Wealth distribution is at its greatest divide ever in the U.S. today. According to the Brookings Institute, in 2016, the top 1% held over 29% of our collective wealth, while the middle class held just 21%. As this wealth gap continues to expand, the lowest 80% will find themselves sliding very much backward, economically.
However, the writer’s solution cannot be more wrong. He is calling for a massive change in our laws to create “a democratically owned and managed economy.” Really? In using the term “democratically owned,” he tries to obfuscate the fact he is proposing we move away from a free-market, capitalistic economy to government-owned economy. This has been tried in several notable countries such as Russia and China, finding only spectacular failure. This is the communistic economic system without the political baggage.
Free-market capitalism does work quite well, when there are level playing fields and laws enforced to prevent purely predatory actions. (We have those laws, but they are generally not enforced well and are in some cases being repealed.) When running properly, the free-market system rewards those who start and run businesses successfully and provide livable and growing wages for employees, as well as opportunities for them to start businesses of their own. The incentive for innovation and creative ideas is based on the ability to generate a reasonable profit. Those who invest their time and financial resources are taking a huge risk. Their personal income and often their entire personal wealth are on the line. But such businesses provide valuable products and services to our society and create jobs for our population. This, not Wall Street, is the engine that drives U.S. prosperity. Yes, we need to put enforceable regulation in place to prevent misdeeds, but communism is not a fix or answer.
Richard Rivett, Chaska
Why call for compromise when it has failed so often in the past?
In David Brooks’ article on “the Squad” vs. Pelosi (“Pelosi, ‘the Squad’ and liberalism forsaken,” Opinion Exchange, July 17), Brooks defines liberalism as incremental change respecting the views of one’s opponent where “compromise is a virtue, not a sign of cowardice.” Members of the Squad, according to Brooks, “argue that only a complete revolution will uproot injustice.” They “don’t want to work within the system. They want to blow it up.”
Such overwrought condemnation of the progressive movement reveals Brooks’ underlying conservative political persuasion, although he professes in his article that his rhetoric transcends politics. More important, Brooks’ preference for mainstream caution and compromise rather than progressive action fails to account for the great failure of mainstream liberal leaders to even directly confront, let alone actually change, the glaring crises of our times: the enormous income inequalities resulting in an ever-richer upper class at the expense of the rest of us, the suffering of the millions of sick people shuffled to the bottom of our health care system, overwhelming student debt, and grotesque military spending that has led to the suffering and death of countless innocents impaled on the swords of our reckless, never-ending foreign wars.
Younger, thoughtful people on the progressive left are weary of compromise, whether respectful or not, and have the courage to take radical positions full-on, as the Squad did when it eschewed traditional liberalism to clearly and forcefully condemn Trump’s racist statements and call for his impeachment. Mr. Brooks, you are on the wrong side of history.
Dean DeHarpporte, Eden Prairie
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I don’t understand how people can support President Donald Trump saying U.S. Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaid can go back to the country they came from if they don’t like it here.
First of all, these women are all American citizens and enjoy the same free-speech rights that Trump does. Also, if no one ever complained about America and some of its policies we wouldn’t have had the civil rights movement, child labor laws or Social Security.
Complainers spawn change!
Linda Maki, Excelsior
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When the Democrats in the House authored their condemnation resolution in response to U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s repeated anti-Semitic comments, they decided to give equal billing to anti-Muslim discrimination, and they singled out for rebuke white supremacists, neo-Confederates, white nationalists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. But they did not mention Omar or her offensive comments specifically. By contrast, the House’s condemnation resolution of President Donald Trump rebukes only Trump and specifically condemns his tweets.
My point in raising this double standard is not to elevate one situation over the other or to dismiss either. It is a plea to the Democrats in Congress to at least display a modicum of intellectual consistency about these things. If you’re going to employ the juvenile “someone else did something worse” defense to Omar’s transgressions, isn’t Trump entitled to a similarly worded resolution? Perhaps one that, this time, says anti-Semitic statements by members of Congress are also worthy of rebuke?
Charles Spevacek, Minnetrista
Aid helps make evictions more fair
We are among the many Minneapolis attorneys who volunteer time to provide free representation to tenants facing eviction in the Hennepin County Court. We write to dispel some inaccurate information about the $325,000 recently authorized by the city to support Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and volunteer lawyers in providing legal assistance to tenants who can’t afford an attorney but are facing eviction.
Currently there are 2,500 to 3,000 Minneapolis residents facing this problem each year. The authorized funds will only be enough to represent a fraction of these families. These tenants are poor, typically families with children and predominately people of color. The consequences to the tenants and the children from eviction are severe: loss of a home, inability to obtain new and decent housing and education disruption for the children.
The few complaints that this money improperly aids tenants and not landlords are misplaced. These tenants cannot afford lawyers. Landlords can afford lawyers and have agents who are very familiar with the eviction process. These tenants generally have little knowledge of how to represent themselves in this process. Landlords have knowledge, experience and lawyers. In a recent three-month study of eviction cases taken by Legal Aid and volunteers, 58% of the cases were settled normally involving some terms helpful to tenants, 42% of cases were tried and won for tenants and 2% were tried and lost.
Legal representation gives these tenants a fair chance in the eviction process. How fair would it be to these tenants who settled or won their cases with the aid of an attorney to be evicted because they did not have an attorney or understand the process? We thank the Minneapolis Mayor and City Council for taking reasonable steps to bring greater fairness to the eviction system.
Tom Tinkham, Perry Wilson, Jon Bye, Jim Long, Dean Eyler and Larry McDonough, Minneapolis