It still works in creating a rich American stew

I beg to differ with commentary writer Timothy Taylor on his haste to jettison two good analogies, melting pot and tossed salad, in favor of a bad one, chocolate fondue (“Beyond the melting pot,” June 30).

The best steel goes through the fire (around 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit) and is mixed with other metals to make it strong and keep it from rusting. In my high school history classes, America was referred to as a tossed salad because many immigrants have retained a large part of their ethnic heritage.

I agree with Taylor that immigrants to this country are coated in America on the outside — like a fondue — even though they are all different on the inside. The problem with the “chocolate fondue” analogy, as anyone who attempted cooking a chocolate fondue or who has read “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel will tell you, is that chocolate is sensitive to heat and humidity.

I have known immigrants who have come to this country and flourished. These new arrivals see opportunities to create an American Dream that many of us miss. I would no more condemn them to a fate of being dipped in chocolate than I would my ancestors. Personally, I prefer a roux made of unsalted butter, flour and Swiss cheese over a plate of asparagus.




As lockout drags on, musicians are leaving

The golden age of classical music in the Twin Cities is over. The powers have demanded that Minnesota Orchestra musicians accept low wages and canceled concerts. Why aren’t musicians treated as treasures in our community? Many excellent musicians have gone to other orchestras or have quit to freelance. Maybe there are too many administrators, and their salaries should have been cut.

JOANNE MUNSON, Minneapolis



Government shouldn’t reap profit on program

The federal student loan program should encourage people to get the skills they need for tomorrow’s economy, provide predictability to graduating students and preclude an unfair burden on recent graduates. U.S. Rep. John Kline’s bill fails on all three counts.

Kline’s shortsighted proposal makes these loans too expensive. Without access to affordable student loans, some families won’t make the dream of college education a reality. Kline’s bill also lets the interest rate that students are paying on their loans change every year. The government gets a fixed rate of interest on its loans; why shouldn’t students? We should not force students to guess what their repayment costs will be.

Finally, while Kline uses a market interest rate as a baseline, he adds 2.5 percent interest to undergraduate loans and 4.5 percent for graduate loans. This ensures that the federal government makes a $51 billion profit on student loans in 2013. There is no reason the government should profit from the student loan program.

These interest rates are now at 6.8 percent — a result Kline voted for. Rather than forging a solution, Kline is playing the typical Washington blame game. Here is my message to Congress: Pass a bill that ties interest rates to a low market rate, put in a reasonable rate cap that reflects our need to invest in these students and let students lock in their rate from day one. Everyone but you can see that this is the responsible solution.



The writer was the DFL candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s Second District in 2012 and has announced his intention to run for that seat in 2014.



We need revenue to invest in infrastructure

Republican state Rep. David Osmek is eye-rollingly concerned about every penny that leaves his pocket, but he is correct about one thing: We have “piled up too much debt on our credit card” (The Dayton/DFL tax bill will burden you now,” July 2). Why? Because politicians have reduced revenue to the point where the state cannot pay for even the basics.

Imagine those who decided they would cut back from full- to part-time work, and then wondered why they could not afford to pay the rent or buy groceries. That person is the GOP. The truth is, when Minnesota (and the nation) was at its most prosperous — the 1970s, when we landed on the cover of Time — taxes were much higher than they are now. Hospitals, schools, higher education, roads — they were the envy of the nation.

I, for one, am a middle-class taxpayer who would be happy to pay extra in taxes if it meant that the state’s infrastructure and quality of living could return to even a shadow of what it was when I moved here in 1975.




Climate can’t wait for cleaner energy options

“In short, wait.” That apparently is Xcel Energy’s bottom line on whether to continue burning coal at two of its largest and dirtiest plants — too much uncertainty in the regulatory climate, so Xcel will wait for further orders (“Xcel Energy will keep running two coal-fired generators in Becker,” July 1).

The plain fact is that we can’t afford to wait. Though the regulatory environment may be uncertain, the climate impacts of continued coal burning are not. The future looks more dangerous every day with business as usual. Xcel knows this and should act as a leader in energy technology, not a follower with a “wait and see” attitude.

BRETT SMITH, Minneapolis