Good men? Perhaps. But not self-made

According to the Star Tribune ("Fortunate sons," Dec. 26), Forbes estimated Carl Pohlad's net worth at $3.6 billion.

Now I see why the Pohlad family was forced to limit its contribution to Target Field to $185 million while sticking the taxpayers with $360 million.

Paying the entire cost of the stadium less estate taxes would have left each brother with less than a billion dollars.

We would have seen the Pohlad sons patching their worn shoes with cardboard while traipsing between food shelves and homeless shelters.

As a taxpayer, I'm proud to have played a small role in preventing this tragedy.


• • •

I disagree with the premise of the story on the Pohlad brothers.

The brothers don't need to worry about not being "self-made" any more than the rest of us, because their father, Carl, did a sizable part of his business activity with public money.

That is not self-made any more than a mother taking welfare money is self-made. It just involves larger amounts of money.

MICHAEL JOHNSON, Brooklyn Center


Who should remove snow from meters?

Thanks, CenterPoint Energy, for all of the warnings regarding snow covering gas meters. If these are your meters, why are we responsible for maintaining them? Why don't you send people to uncover snow-covered meters? That way your meter readers can read your meters.

BRUCE FOLKEN, Apple Valley

Medicare options

End-of-life counseling isn't a 'death panel'

It's a shame that the untruthful phrase "death panels" is being resurrected by adversaries of the president ("New Medicare rule could revive controversy over end-of-life planning," Dec. 26).

This is about patient empowerment. Having an advance directive enables individuals a clear choice, filed with their doctors, about what they want done in the event of terminal illness or traumatic injury.

My 94-year-old mother was offered painful tests until we made it clear that her wishes were not to submit to such treatment. We should all want an advance directive.

JUDY REIN, Mendota Heights

• • •

A letter writer complained about the revival of "death panels."

Did he even read the article about the issue?

What it said is that Medicare will pay a doctor to provide counseling about end-of-life issues, if a patient desires this.



Too hard? Too easy? No solving this debate

In the past few days there have been complaints that the crossword puzzles are too hard. Part of the reason for doing a puzzle is to keep your brain working. There is no challenge in anything that's easy.


• • •

When I saw a second reader this week complain that the crossword puzzles were getting too hard, I felt compelled to write an opposing opinion.

The puzzles are actually too easy on the first three days of the week. Thursday's puzzle is moderately challenging; Friday's and Saturday's puzzles are delightful posers.

Of course, the puzzles on the bottom of the page, "A Daily Crossword," are always easy, for the benefit of the casual puzzle solver.

I look forward all week to Saturday's puzzle, and sincerely hope that the Star Tribune does not replace the New York Times daily puzzle with some easier offering.


• • •

Please don't dumb down the crossword puzzles. There are easy, medium and hard ones; in other words, something for everyone. I do well to finish the New York Times' Wednesday puzzle. Still, I love the challenge. Please don't change anything.


• • •

I would like to add my name to the list of people finding the crossword puzzles increasingly difficult and less fun.


• • •

I enjoy the challenge of the Friday and Saturday crossword puzzles. I "Google" many of the answers. My son calls this cheating; I prefer to call it research. While I don't always finish them correctly, I do like the challenge of trying.


High-Speed Rail

Let's make sure it's truly high-speed

Bravo to Peter Wagenius ("In case you're wondering, it's a sleek, new transit station") and Adam Platt ("High-speed rail shouldn't be so easily dismissed") in their side-by-side Dec. 28 opinion pieces.

My point of departure from Platt's is his well-taken point that "a European-style high-speed rail system is not being contemplated for the Midwest." Too true.

What has been proposed for the Midwest is back-to-the-future mediocrity, running on shared freight rail tracks, that would reach a top speed of 110 miles per hour and would have an average speed of 79 mph.

It is a cruel hoax to call this slower-than-the-steam-era proposed boondoggle "high-speed rail."

Why is anyone supporting this? And why are we obsessing about Chicago as the destination of our dreams?

Let's take a look at St. Louis or Kansas City as first-stage destinations.

High-speed rail? Yes! And the sooner, the better. Just make sure it's truly high-speed.


• • •

I reread Patrick McIlheran's article ("On, Wisconsin (but just not via high-speed rail)," published Dec. 22.

Platt's criticism misrepresented McIlheran, who didn't say that U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's victory was "built on her opposition to high speed rail."

McIlheran quoted opponents of high-speed rail but properly identified them. I don't think he implied consensus, just opposition.