Consider all the services that they provide
Dane Bogaard's Jan. 19 letter commented about the ease of his commute on Martin Luther King Jr. Day because government offices were closed. He compares government employees to "eaters" of wealth, as if they produce nothing.
I wonder what his commute would be like if we did away with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which plans, designs, builds and maintains our roads? How well would our society function if we got rid of the government employees who are in charge of criminal and civil justice? We could get rid of all of the building inspectors and have structures like those in Haiti.
Is there waste in government? Sure. But most government employees produce things of great value to our society, and to label them as "eaters" of wealth is wrong.
WILLIAM JEPSEN, STILLWATER
In Tuesday's "Letter of the Day," a writer complains that "the total number of government jobs has exceeded the number of goods-producing jobs." I know just what the writer means, but, gosh, it's so hard to get people from Bangalore to plow our streets over the phone for 50 cents an hour.
JACKIE DUBBE, LINO LAKES
THE COST OF FLYING
A cheaper option: Fly, then buy
Since the airlines have decided to raise the fees again for checked baggage to almost the cost of an airline seat (Star Tribune, Jan. 17), why don't we all just travel with nothing and buy clothes when we get to our destinations? This not only would stimulate the economy, but would mean lighter planes, less fuel, quicker loading and unloading, no lost or stolen luggage -- just think of the benefits.
ANNE MCGrane, Minneapolis
Article failed to detail its positive aspects
Tom Meersman's Jan. 12 article, "Wind power takes a blow," is a one-sided negative portrait of a thriving renewable-energy industry in Minnesota. Our state leads the nation in community ownership of wind energy and is fourth in installed projects. Our innovative public policy is copied by other states, and the industry has created a decent amount of new manufacturing jobs.
Wind energy development serves a vital public need. We need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, which pollute our environment, and foreign energy sources, which subvert energy independence and security.
When folks in wind-rich communities have the opportunity to participate in and own wind energy projects, there is a much greater sense of community engagement and greater economic benefits that contribute to long-term sustainability. The siting of wind energy projects must be done with great sensitivity to neighborhoods, wildlife and the land.
Change can be upsetting. But we are learning that thoughtful policy can bring intelligent wind project design that can be a tremendous asset to a community. Wind projects don't have to look like Texas in the oil boom or be controlled by large, absentee corporations.
LISA DANIELS, MINNEAPOLIS;
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WINDUSTRY
Let Madoff and his ilk do their time there
I would like to propose that Bernie Madoff, Tom Petters, Denny Hecker and greedy bank officials all be sentenced to permanent community service in Haiti. Perhaps they would get a glimpse of the real world and, instead of focusing on hurting others, would witness true hurt and decide to help others instead.
ELLEN SWANSON, EDINA