The U.S. trade dispute with China is about negotiating better terms for Wall Street, Big Auto, Big Oil, Big Steel and Big Tech. This dispute is not about negotiating better trade terms for agriculture. Farmers and rural Main Street businesses are suffering needlessly because the current administration has employed an unsophisticated, tariff-driven and unilateral approach against the second-strongest economy in the world.
I am a corn/soybean farmer, and my congressman is Jim Hagedorn of Minnesota’s First District. On Aug. 16, I attended his town hall event in Albert Lea, just a few miles from my farm. I asked Hagedorn, “When the trade war is over, if we only go back to pre-tariff corn and soybean prices, what is your plan to repair rural Minnesota?”
Let me be clear: We need a more sophisticated approach to dealing with China on trade. Tariffs are one tool, but the way our president employs them is akin to using a machete instead of a fine scalpel for surgery. He’s done more damage than good.
This trade war is about economic and technological dominance. China must end unfair subsidies and protect U.S. intellectual property. But farmers have become a hostage in this conflict. Prices of corn and soybeans have dropped sharply since China imposed retaliatory tariffs. While Market Facilitation Program subsidies have reduced losses, family farm balance sheets continue to hemorrhage operating capital at an alarming rate. Farm capital investment has halted due to uncertainty. Equipment dealers, and rural businesses that rely on family farm profitability, are suffering. Ethanol waivers granted to oil refineries by the administration cause corn prices to drop further, benefiting Big Oil corporations.
Hagedorn did not offer a plan to repair rural Minnesota. He agreed that corn and soybean prices will likely just return to pre-tariff levels. Surviving farm families and small businesses will be left in weakened financial positions.
Rural America has been in an economic struggle since the farm crisis of the 1980s. Please attend town halls in your county and let your voice be heard. Stand up for rural America!
Theron Gjersvik, Alden, Minn.
BDE MAKA SKA
The lake is renamed. Move on.
Please, stop publishing letters from grieving, suffering, whiny Minneapolitans who can’t come to accept Bde Maka Ska as the restored name of their beloved lake (Readers Write, Aug. 26.) We’ve heard all their specious arguments before — how hard the native name is to pronounce, how they tear up when nostalgia for the name they grew up with creeps into their thoughts, etc.
They’ll never understand that this isn’t about them. They’ll never accept the idea that they who live on the shores of Bde Maka Ska have no more authority in this naming matter than the rest of us who aren’t as fortunate to live close to this lovely space. They’ll never understand the importance of the noble symbolism of restoring the name. And good news for the aggrieved: They can continue to call the lake by any name they wish! So, again, please spare us. Thank you.
Richard Masur, Minneapolis
No expediency in an 18-year war
The Star Tribune editorial about Afghanistan warned against “an expedient deal” to bring home U.S. troops (“Carnage continues in Afghanistan,” Aug. 27). It is hard to guess what “expedient” means after 18 years of war. The editorial takes the usual position of advocates for war: When war fails to achieve what was hoped, we need more war.
Candidate Donald Trump promised to end U.S. involvement in the war, and then as president ordered a troop surge. In August 2017, U.S. forces dropped the “mother of all bombs” on a cave complex, and Trump called it a “very, very successful mission.” But the violence, including terrorist bomb attacks, has only increased. It has become clear that the Trump administration is failing in Afghanistan as badly as the administrations of Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Who knows what to make of the belief that he wants troops starting to withdraw by the 2020 election? The idea may be calculated to show his boldness and dismissal of Congress.
To foster a less-expedient deal, support repeal of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, and engage Congress in the decision. For arguments in favor of a troop drawdown, see the conservative Cato Institute’s “Overcoming Inertia: Why It’s Time to End the War in Afghanistan.”
James Haefemeyer, Minneapolis
Maybe attendance is declining because the sport needs reform
I am both amazed and saddened by the article on declining football attendance at both Football Bowl Subdivision and most Big Ten games (“Dropping attendance not just a U thing,” Aug. 27). Several Big Ten coaches are quoted. While blaming the decline in interest on everything from a “culture of narcissism,” “self-loathing” and the need for self-gratification, not one of them looked inward at themselves, their programs or their products. No one mentioned concern regarding head injuries, the overwhelming commercialization of major college sports, the lack of appropriate compensation for student athletes or the astronomical and inappropriate compensation of head coaches like them, where each program they “lead” is seen simply as a stepping stone to the next larger, more prestigious and higher-paying one. This all at a time when funding for public universities continues to decline.
Major university coaches and athletic directors will need to look inward if they hope to find solutions and save their multimillion-dollar salaries.
Terrence Witt, Menomonie, Wis.
Warning that ‘doomsday’ is coming is just left-wing scaremongering
James P. Lenfestey’s commentary on David Koch (“A shameful legacy of anti-science influence,” Opinion Exchange, Aug. 27) was a prime example of the left’s predisposition to character assassination and scaremongering. Lenfestey has implied that any questioning of climate science dogma is morally reprehensible, self-dealing and unpatriotic. The science behind the activists proclaiming doomsday is 10 years away (remember Al Gore saying that over 10 years ago?) has itself been shown to be deeply flawed and hyperbolic. Rather than thoughtful commentary from an “unbiased observer of climate science,” we get distortions on top of fear with a large dose of demagoguery.
Lenfestey’s underlying attack on fossil fuels, as usual, conveniently neglects several important points. Fossil-fuel-based energy is significantly cheaper than its renewable counterparts. That energy powers most of the world’s way of life, not just America’s. The changes being proposed by the various Green New Deals will substantially lower the quality of life for Americans.
Hysterical screeds such as this serve only to advertise Lenfestey’s own bias and disdain of those who refuse to be a part of the climate groupthink.
Michael Heiser, Eden Prairie
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