The editorial "Minnesota shows the way on health care" (Oct. 4) was quite interesting, especially when rates were given for insurance increases. I currently have Blue Plus and pay $114 a month. I received my letter from Blue Cross saying my new rate would be $145 a month for 2018. The editorial mentioned a projected 2.8 percent increase for Blue Plus. I wish! My increase amounts to 27 percent! I live on Social Security and it's not much. I have to work a part-time job to make ends meet, to the point where I can't have needed surgery because I need two months of my part-time work set aside to cover my monthly expenses. I live in northwestern Minnesota, and the Blue Plus plan is my only option.
When are the powers that be going to realize that people on fixed incomes cannot absorb these increases? For me, $31 is a tank of gas or pays for my prescriptions for a month. That's how some of us have to look at it. We're being killed by all the increases. Help us. We're drowning!
Jan Boe, East Grand Forks, Minn.
LAS VEGAS MASSACRE
There's no good reason 'why,' and it's harming our freedom
Honestly, I do not think there is an answer for the type of violence that rained down in Las Vegas. The why? There really is no "why." Because no matter what is put forth as an explanation, it will be woefully inadequate.
As a police officer (25 years with the Minneapolis Police Department), I see the type of violence that humans willingly inflict upon one another, every day. I have been an investigator for nearly 20 years, primarily in homicide and arson. There really is no good "why."
As time has gone on, I just look around and wonder if people — the human race — will ever be able to leave each other alone.
I can say that I do not believe we are a free people any longer. I do not mean free politically. Our Constitution is intact; our freedoms given us from that document are still protected. Those types of freedoms and rights enshrined therein are never free and take constant vigilance.
But are we free when, as an example, we go to a movie and look around and wonder: Is there someone here who will do us harm? Are we really free when we have children afraid to go to school because they look around and wonder: Is there someone here who will hurt us? Are we free when we walk down a crowded street on a warm summer night and wonder when a truck goes by: Is that truck going to cause us harm? Are we free when we go to a concert — and from now on, we will look around and wonder?
Should we be aware of our surroundings? Absolutely, but the hypervigilance now required is tiring and at times depressing.
There will come a day when history will look back at this country and wonder how it — how we — got to this point. I fear history will not be kind to the United States of America.
Erika Christensen, Lake Elmo
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The same tired talking points arise after every gun massacre ("Don't rush to judgment on guns," Readers Write, Oct. 4). We are told we used the incorrect terminology in describing semiautomatic guns, as if semantics were crucial to preventing more deaths. We are told that laws are irrelevant, because criminals don't follow the law. In that case, why do we have any laws at all? Why don't we live in a free-for-all, since laws are, according to this argument, ineffective? Laws, of course, cannot prevent every incident of gun violence, but that is no reason to give up altogether on legal remedies.
It is inevitable that Chicago comes up. Chicago has strict gun laws and a high rate of gun violence, it is true. But that argument ignores the fact that Indiana, right next to Chicago, has lax gun laws, and it is ridiculously easy to buy guns in Indiana and drive them across the state line. Federal gun regulations would help to mitigate that situation. And, even so, numerous studies show that areas with stricter gun laws have significantly fewer gun deaths.
Finally, we are told that "taking guns away from the vast majority of responsible, law-abiding owners does nothing to solve the problem." This is classic misdirection; no one, absolutely no one, is advocating denying gun rights to law-abiding owners who use their weapons appropriately, as collector's items, for target shooting, for hunting, even for self-defense.
We've all heard these excuses for inaction — over and over and tragically over again. We are told, time and again, that now is not the time to act on gun violence. Enough, already; it is past time to act, forcefully, to do everything in our power to end the insanity of gun violence.
Joyce Denn, Woodbury
• • •
I was really taken by Stu Bykofsky's commentary ("As a lawful gun owner, how do I respond to this horror?", Oct. 4). As a gun owner, he passed along how he felt about the gun violence in this country. As I read his piece, I began to realize we are approaching the gun problem from the wrong direction. Instead of asking our uncooperative, highly paid National Rifle Association representatives in Washington, let's ask gun owners. Let our responsible gun owners, our law enforcement professionals, give us direction on what to ban, how to control illegal gun sales, straw gun shows and gun registration. According to Bykofsky, 99.9 percent of the nation's gun owners are responsible people. It seems that our representatives in Washington are not willing to be responsible.
Tom Abbott, Minnetonka
INTERSTATE 35W SHUTDOWN
And it was a mess in St. Paul, too
A Wednesday letter writer (Readers Write, Oct. 4) was lucky he wasn't traveling to St. Paul on Sunday, as he would have been even more impressed with the traffic planning in the Saintly City. We've been getting the tail end of the Twin Cities Marathon for about 35 years, but you wouldn't know it from the efforts put into managing traffic. Our city shuts down Summit Avenue regularly for running/walking/biking events from the Mississippi River to the State Capitol, but the marathon is the big kahuna. There is only one way north or south, Ayd Mill Road (another practice freeway), and if the letter writer had shown up in town he'd have never found it — signage is bad to nonexistent, there's never a cop directing traffic but four to six of them at every intersection on Summit watching the runners, north-south streets are not blocked on either side of Summit, leaving us with angry folks just trying to get to a friend's house, work, restaurant or shopping. It's a real welcoming experience for folks, and the worst part of it is — no one at the city understands how inept they look or even cares.
Welcome to our world, and I'll put my city's ineptitude up against MnDOT's any day.
Julian Loscalzo, St. Paul
MAYOR AND POLICE CHIEF
Here's another way to go about it
In response to "Hodges, Harteau rift was stewing" (Oct. 4), here's a radical thought. How about sitting down regularly over coffee, airing differences in person rather than in public? Remember what we learned in kindergarten — bring your rug, share your colors. No sense of trust, no hope for accountability.
Judith Monson, St. Paul