I read with both amusement and anger the CEO Business Roundtable’s “statement of purpose” from Aug. 19, a continuation of the farce that has been going on for far too long (“Top CEOs re-evaluate priority on stock profits,” Aug. 20). Most of the challenges the CEOs address can be solved by replacing all statements with a single commitment: They can each pledge to paying at least a minimum living wage of $18 per hour, or $36,000 per year, for every employee in their enterprises and require their supply-chain partners to do the same.
It is an economic fact that total productivity growth drives total real-wage growth. If the minimum wage had simply tracked with growth since the catastrophe of former President Ronald Reagan’s trickle-down economics, the minimum wage would be over $20 per hour today. Where did the trillions go over the past 40 years? To the executive and investor class who once again try to pacify us with smoke and mirrors.
Here is the great secret these leaders, and the politicians they support, do not want to discuss. The great transfer of wealth has not been due to our country’s social and economic safety nets for those in need, but the other way around: the insidious transfer of wealth from workers to executives and owners through relentless wage suppression on Main Street and ridiculous tax policies on Wall Street.
A minimum wage of $18 per hour right now would dramatically increase government revenue, decrease safety-net spending, and increase real economic growth. Yes, this requires some structural change in our economic system and perhaps a reduction in obscene executive pay (their long-term wealth is already guaranteed). And that’s exactly what courageous, values-driven CEOs should support in a nation rapidly destabilizing due to socioeconomic inequality.
Chris Ellis, St. Paul
It’s happening. Let’s get moving.
This is a response to the letter writer who takes issue with James P. Lenfestey’s commentary on David Koch (“A shameful legacy of anti-science influence,” Aug. 27), the letter writer who states that climate change is left-wing scaremongering (“Warning that ‘doomsday’ is coming is just left-wing scaremongering,” Aug. 28). He alleges the left is predisposed to using tactics like fear, character assassination, distortions, demagoguery and hysterical screeds. That sounds more like the current president than anybody else, but I digress.
A simple Google search netted me 18 American scientific societies that state greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver of climate change. If that isn’t enough, there are nearly 200 worldwide scientific organizations that state human action is the cause.
Does the letter writer think that all the pollution we create just magically disappears, like his bowl of Lucky Charms every morning? There is no conspiracy by China, there are no “alternative facts” here. There is only one planet Earth, so we best act like it.
Kent Smith, Minneapolis
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I don’t know if climate change denial is “morally reprehensible, self-dealing and unpatriotic,” as a recent letter writer said the left makes it to be.
However, I do know that it is often self-serving, dangerous and, frankly, astounding.
Thoughtful conversation requires at least some recognition that the planet is in danger. Icebergs are melting, releasing water at unprecedented levels. Sea levels are rising. Entire communities are forced to relocate to higher land. Wild extremes in temperatures are raging across the globe. And the Amazon is bleeding carbon into our atmosphere as it burns rather being the “lungs of the world.”
I agree personal attacks do nothing to foster dialogue. Challenge the idea, not the individual — that’s the ethos we need to guide discussions.
Promoting increased investment in the fossil-fuel industry simply because these sources are cheaper (a debatable point for another time) is shortsighted and makes extricating ourselves from them even harder.
Can we please stop arguing about “whether” climate change is happening to talk at the very least about what we can and should be doing?
There are vast sums to be made in green-energy development and implementation, evidenced by oil and gas companies’ expanding involvement.
Finally, what would you sacrifice (of that vaunted “quality of American life”) for a world in which your grandchildren can actually live a full and healthy life?
That should be the question — especially for those doubting the importance/urgency of this issue.
Carin Peterson, Minneapolis
Focus on forests to trap carbon, whether in Brazil or Minnesota
Listening to the recent concerns about the burning Amazon forests (“With the Amazon on fire, enforcers raise the alarm,” Aug. 29) reminds me of meetings we had with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources concerning the management plan for the Sand Dunes State Forest (SDSF) located near Big Lake, Minn. The plan for the SDSF is to manage parts of it in a similar way to the management of the adjacent Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. That entails converting the timbered forest to grasslands and savanna by the use of fire, chemicals and grazing.
The DNR will tell you there is a good reason for converting this forest, but I suspect Brazilians would also give good reasons for converting theirs. The reason the DNR and the refuge say the conversion is need is that grassland and savanna habitats are endangered and need to be re-established, even it means losing forest acres.
Now, this would seem to make some sense until one reads some of Lee Frelich’s work. Frelich is a researcher at the University of Minnesota who studies the effect of climate on habitats. He predicts that, by the year 2100, the whole state up to the Canadian border will tend to convert to grasslands and savannas. Think of that for a minute. Brainerd, Aitkin, Bemidji, Grand Rapids, Orr, Grand Marais, Cloquet — prairie and savanna.
The DNR and the refuge are managing their lands based on an old paradigm, and in a sense, it is a form of climate-change denial. They should worry about what will be rare in the future as opposed to the past. One criterion for DNR funding should be whether the project helps combat climate change. Our country’s potential for carbon sequestration through afforestation, reforestation and forest protection are significant and far less controversial than where all the current focus is — restricting carbon use. Certainly, we should make sure our own house is in order before we criticize other parts of the world.
Bob Quady, Buffalo, Minn.
Elected officials were respectful, and it’s so rare I wrote this letter
I have always been proud to be a Minnesotan, and even more so while listening to the mayors of our two largest cities, Mayor Melvin Carter of St. Paul and Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis, speak at the Minnesota State Fair on Tuesday. They showed what true leadership looks like. They showed such enthusiasm for their respective cities in very clear and informed ways. These two elected officials showed respect for each other, the interviewer and their audience with thoughtful responses.
Oh, how I wish this was the norm in our national political dialogue instead of something so unusual as to inspire a letter to the editor!
Neil Robinson, Plymouth
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