University of Minnesota Prof. Roger Feldman (“How two peas in a pod grew apart,” Opinion Exchange, March 8) didn’t mention one factor that may also have contributed significantly to Minnesota’s outperforming Wisconsin: air transport. Airlines like North Central, Republic and Northwest, being headquartered in the Twin Cities, and now Delta with a hub here, have given Minnesota businesses connectivity unmatched by anything available to Wisconsin. In particular, the international services from MSP pioneered by Northwest facilitated global business and made the Twin Cities competitive in world business and Minnesota a familiar name. Not long ago I saw an advertisement emblazoned across a London double-deck bus: “Call your Mom in Minnesota.” That tells you something.
Feldman suggests the divergence between the two states predates Scott Walker’s becoming governor in Wisconsin, but looking at two of the criteria, education and health, one can see Walker has not helped. His war on teachers and his failure to establish a state program under the Affordable Care Act are retrograde actions in both fields, and can only help widen the gap.
Peter Reed, Minneapolis
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My parents moved me to Minneapolis in 1962, shortly after I had graduated from high school in Racine, Wis. What was immediately apparent, and what continues to characterize Minnesota, is its perpetual patting itself on the back. Even if measures show the state is behind other states — for example, on universal preschool — Minnesotans will find a way to twist the information to argue that their state is better.
Because of my parents’ finances, I was forced to attend the University of Minnesota, along with thousands of other commuter students. I can tell you that in 1962, I was much better prepared than graduates of Minnesota high schools. And the University of Wisconsin continues to outrank the University of Minnesota on just about every measure of quality.
Over the course of my life, I’ve lived in two other states, Utah and Pennsylvania. I can assure the provincial residents of Minnesota that there are progressive and intelligent people elsewhere. Minnesota has not achieved perfection. Maybe if we stopped patting ourselves on the back, we could seriously tackle the pervasive problems that continue to plague the state — the achievement gap, the wages and job gap, the pollution of state waters, the crumbling highway system — the reader can fill in the rest.
Karen J. Storm, Minneapolis
One of its ‘festering’ problems can be traced to budget cuts
The March 8 column by D.J. Tice (“Minnesota has its problems, too — and they fester”) addressed three problem issues of late. One of the issues was about the proper handling of child-protection cases. Tice writes that the issues deserve more attention and “[y]et each also comes down to something simple and troubling — a failure by Minnesota public officials to do right by powerless people who are at their mercy and who lack political clout, despite years of warnings and complaints about each failure in question.”
Yes, I agree, but certainly not all public officials. No, I would narrow the focus to the public officials who were in power and started the landslide that created the danger. A few years back when Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the Republicans were in power, they decided to cut taxes on wealthy individuals and businesses. And what happened? The state started experiencing deficits, which led to cuts in local government aid, which led to underfunded and understaffed local governments. I worked for Hennepin County at that time and recall that in just one of those years, I was told that 50 social workers would have to be cut and that most of the cuts would be in child protection.
I thought at the time that this was reckless and would put many kids at risk. I couldn’t believe it was happening in Hennepin County, the richest county in Minnesota. I wondered what effect these cuts would have in outstate counties, like, maybe, Pope County.
Creighton Orth, Plymouth
CHEFS AND GENDER
The assuming-bias syndrome, and the glass-house syndrome
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences fails to nominate any blacks for acting awards. Conclusion: The academy is racially biased. The top 12 chefs in the Twin Cities are all male. Conclusion: The voting is sexist and gender-biased (“Chefs’ photo a hot potato for Mpls.St.Paul magazine,” Jon Tevlin column, March 8). The NBA All-Stars are 24 blacks, two Hispanics and two whites. Yet that racially unbalanced result is widely viewed as fair and accurate.
It is quite possible the best were selected in the opinions of those voting in all three awards. Sometimes an opinion is just that, free of internal biases and darker motives.
John Jackson, Bloomington
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Perhaps the 12 best restaurants did all happen to have male chefs, but perhaps the decisions are biased by on overrepresentation of depictions in the media of chefs being male.
Not an incident, but a clear trend is that the media have a bias to reporting on male sports.
A game I play most weekends is to leaf through the Star Tribune’s own sports section until I find the first photograph featuring a woman athlete. Last weekend it was on page 15. This was the only female athlete thus featured last Sunday, a day that saw 54 photos of male athletes. A score of 54-1 is not a very good one, and it does not represent reality.
What is the journalist’s responsibility here? To try to change the culture? Maybe not. To accurately depict reality? Providing accurate information is the critical role of journalism.
To paraphrase a letter written by female chefs and restaurant owners to Mpls.St.Paul magazine: It’s a false and embarrassing representation of our diverse athletic community. Do any of the editors and reporters notice that their mothers, wives and sisters aren’t in the room?
Ellen M. Silva, Minnetonka