Rarely do I agree with D.J. Tice. However, his Jan. 17 column (“The long twilight struggle of the Iron Range”) was spot-on.

I grew up in Central Minnesota and have family members who have lived and worked in “the Cities” for 40-plus years. Some of them would move back “home” in a heartbeat if they could obtain similar employment. Choices. This is what we face in life. Some make sacrifices to provide for their families. Others choose a certain lifestyle over economic opportunities.

Minnesotans are a generous lot, and we want to help our neighbors and those who fall through the cracks. Some sensible people object to taxes that go toward subsidized entrenched failure. We have to be realistic about the changing world. Social upheaval always follows a major economic tsunami. Our agrarian society was bowled over by industrialization. After about 60 years, old industry collapsed and shifted from analog to digital … and so it goes.

Companies tend to operate larger business in the metro areas. This is reality. Unless one is fortunate enough to be able to work from home, you locate where the businesses are. How many more years are we going to pay employable people a bare-bones stipend in the hopes the old economy is coming back? If an area has a long history of not being able to support working families, then the families should consider relocation.

I know people who would love to come home from work (free from a horrendous commute) and be able to hop in a boat and be fishing — all in about 20 minutes. Instead, they put up with hassles for the sake of their families. Some people can live a happy and simplified life on a marginal income. Quality of life means different things for different folks. Continued extensions of unemployment benefits in times of low, statewide unemployment is a blatant form of welfare. This is from a bleeding-heart liberal.

Linda Benzinger, Minneapolis

• • •

So, what are we on the Iron Range to do? It seems that Tice would have us give in to the “ultimately irresistible decline” of the Range as “global competition and technological change” lead to our gradual depopulation.

The truth is that iron mining on the Range can have a solid future. If the president will stop subsidized steel from being dumped into the American market, our domestic steel industry will survive, and we will continue to use Minnesota taconite well into the future. If not, we may lose the industry. Even the cynics should hope that we don’t outsource our industrial future.

In addition to thinking globally, we are acting locally to diversify the Iron Range economy. Direct-reduction iron plants may bring new, value-added growth. Biomass technology continues to evolve. Expanding broadband opens new opportunities. If nonferrous mining proves to be environmentally safe, it will help to rebuild our communities.

We certainly don’t think that the “best we can hope for is a slowing of the gradual depopulation of the Range.” Instead of seeing the Range as a dying remnant of the Rust Belt, we see the Range of Possibilities.

Paul Kess, Ely, Minn.

The writer is a member of the Ely City Council and a board member of the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools.

 

PRIORITIES

We’re not spending enough on the things that really matter

The lead story in the Jan. 17 local section (“Feds find patient-care lapses at Anoka-Metro”) details the possible loss of $3.5 million in federal funding for Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center in the wake of recently uncovered transgressions. The executive director of the Minnesota branch of NAMI is quoted, referring to the transgressions as “absolutely appalling.”

No. What’s appalling is that we as a society accept that the “pre-eminent facility in the state to send people with serious mental illnesses” has an operating budget so small that a mere $3.5 million would “cripple” its ability to function.

A brief item on a subsequent page reports that the governor is proposing $12 million to the Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul. This is admirable, but compare those amounts for a moment. Dorothy Day is one city’s drop-in homeless facility. Anoka-Metro RTC serves our whole state.

Think it doesn’t matter? Maybe the next fatal encounter between the police and a mentally ill suspect will change your mind. But probably not. Sadly, $3.5 million tells me most of us just don’t care.

Andrew Lake, Columbia Heights

• • •

Minnesota House Taxes Committee Chairman Greg Davids’ statement (as quoted in Hot Dish Politics on Jan. 17) that “people’s quality of life could be higher if they could keep more of their money” fails to realize that in community, where we all live, quality of life is more than an individual’s. It is communities working together and pooling their money, through taxes, philanthropy, etc., that gives us all a better quality of life.

Margaret A. Nelson, Minnetonka

 

‘RUN THEM OVER’ POST

On paper, cop wasn’t the type, so what’s a department to do?

A St. Paul policeman’s posted suggestion to drive cars over protesters (for which he since has apologized — “Cop says sorry for ‘run them over’ rant,” Jan. 21) certainly shows the difficult task police departments have in identifying employees with unacceptable social views. On paper, this cop is a college graduate, an MBA degree holder in police work and a combat veteran — all suggesting the presence of strong moral values. And yet …

So what can police departments in both pre- and post-hiring practices do to improve this circumstance? Is some outside help appropriate?

Paul Mueller, Woodbury

 

RACIAL INEQUITY

This attention is good — we’re beginning to understand

As a member of the white majority, I have rarely been involved in situations involving racial inequity, and certainly have not suffered from such inequity. So, before reading “Cities look at ways to end racial inequities” (Jan. 17), I would never have guessed the existence of the inequity examples mentioned in the article. It now seems clear that systemic racial inequities are present in all sorts of places, if only we look. And once we look and identify the problems, we can then take steps to rectify what we find. So kudos to the Minnesota cities — Minneapolis and St. Paul among them — plus the multiple Minnesota governmental units that are now searching for these systemic racial inequities and taking steps to fix the problems they find.

Martin Malecha, New Brighton

• • •

In reference to “Hearing on racial disparities draws a crowd” (Jan. 16), only 5 percent of our legislators are people of color, yet 20 percent of Minnesotans are people of color. For entrenched systemic racism to change in this state, we need people of color to propose and decide upon the best solutions. Therefore, in addition to public testimony at the Legislature, communities of color need better representation in the Legislature.

Carol Krush, Minneapolis