Federal budget

In the scheme of things, these cuts are peanuts

There are many definitions of slavery, and I don’t wish to diminish the suffering by many African-Americans who were slaves. However, we exist in a society that for 30 years has allowed and even promoted a form of slavery. My children are slaves, and my grandchildren will be slaves. How else can one define our tolerance of federal borrowing at levels that we can never repay, and that our children and grandchildren are unlikely to be able to pay back to our creditors? This is true even under the most optimistic guise of a future thriving economy and gross simultaneous austerity.

How can our society do what’s right when it’s unable to tolerate sequestration — in this case, a reduction of about $80 billion from $3.5 trillion dollars of planned spending, a trillion of it borrowed? These spending cuts are a drop in the bucket of what is needed or is to come (without choice) if our nation is to survive this fiscal crisis. Anyone who confronts the numbers and possesses middle-school math capabilities and still objects is not being honest with reality.

Kenneth Langr, Coon Rapids

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How is it that when President Obama asks the “rich” to ante up $80 billion a year in additional taxes, he refers to it as “asking the rich to pay a little more,” but when he talks of a similar amount in spending cuts, he says it’s taking a ax to the budget? What logic allows us to think that taking $80 billion from a few is a whiffle, while taking $80 billion from 300 million people is doomsday?

Doug Clemens, Bloomington

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Regarding “Budget ax could cost Minnesota 16,000 jobs” (Feb. 24), I find it disappointing that the Star Tribune has joined the histrionics purveyed by the rest of the media. First, the government will spend more in 2013 than 2012 — ($3.553 trillion vs. $3.538), so the $85 billion in cuts would actually be a reduction in the rate of spending increase. The FAA employs 47,031, of which 26,200 are air-traffic controllers. The USDA employs in excess of 100,000, of which 8,500 are meat/poultry inspectors.

It seems to me that furloughing some of the administrative jobs in the examples cited in the article would make far more sense than cutting the jobs that truly affect the public welfare. But that’s not good political theater, and it makes for lousy headlines, right? And at the end of the day, this is all about the politics of scaring the public, and not doing what’s best for the country.

Jim Mexdorf, Eden Prairie

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Sunday’s article told how Minneapolis-St Paul International would have to curtail flights as the result of budget cuts. As one whose house lies under the FAA’s preferred flight paths and has to suffer the noise all day every day, I say bring it on, and curtail savagely.

John Ferman, Minneapolis

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School suspension

Motion meets rigidity in dancing incident

The horror, the horror! Kids were caught dancing in the cafeteria at Mound Westonka High School! What punishment could be severe enough for these juvenile delinquents? Suspension? Certainly that.

Preventing the hockey players involved in the horrifying behavior from playing their last season game? At the minimum! As coach Doug Runke said, “sometimes you’ve got to learn some life lessons.” And he and activity director Dion Koltes were just the two to teach those lessons (“Mound Westonka hockey players suspended after cafeteria dance,” Feb. 23).

Well, these kids learned some life lessons, all right. They learned that life can be bitterly unfair sometimes. They also learned that the world is full of uptight old stiffs in positions of authority who like nothing more than punishing anyone involved in having a little fun, something one suspects they have little experience with.

Even at my advanced age of 69, I can still remember the exuberance of youth. I try to recapture it as often as I can.

Don French, Edina

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Rather than speculating about whether the Mound Westonka students who filmed themselves doing the “Harlem Shake” violated school policy, and whether that justified their suspension, I would like to ask another question, and I do so at the risk of sounding far more crotchety and older than my 44 years would suggest: What exactly is the obsession that people seem to crave today with having to get themselves on YouTube doing the latest dance craze?

Seriously, it seems that every yahoo in the country with a smartphone has to film themselves copying “Gangnam Style” or “Harlem Shake,” or other Internet sensations like “planking,” and upload it for anyone who cares to look at it.

I think that this is a smaller reflection of the larger picture that speaks to the obsession with reality television, the majority of which is awful, base programming featuring the lowest common denominator. Yet people seem in a mad rush to be on it.

I don’t get it, but then I am not on Facebook and I don’t tweet, so what do I know? I rather enjoy my anonymity, even if it means going the way of the Dodo.

Douglas Broad, St. Louis Park

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Winter recreation

Thanks to those who help make it enjoyable

Thank you to the trail groomers and the Minneapolis Park Board for creating cross-country ski trails that attract all ages and skiing levels to get outside and enjoy winter. I skied the Wirth Park system today and felt so grateful that I live in a city that values an amenity where youngsters, families and seniors like me can take advantage of a beautiful day in the city.

Linda Warfield, Minneapolis

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‘Downton Abbey’

Editorial cartoon gave away the plot

Come on, Star Tribune! Commentary and analysis of popular culture in your publication is great, but as media leaders please have the good sense and restraint not to give away endings to story lines! Luckily, my wife and I just caught up with “Downton Abbey” on Netflix, having carefully avoided other media discussion so we could enjoy the unfolding story at our own pace. The Feb. 23 editorial cartoon, in one line, revealed the key dramatic highlights of the season. In this era of DVR time-shifting, streaming and Netflix, not everyone is in sync with the story. Don’t be a spoiler!

Patrick Eastman, Minnetonka