Politics and vision

Why do we no longer think on a grand scale?

Recent politics reminds me of a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. Wandering galleries filled with Monet, Rembrandt and Rodin left me with a sense of awe. One particular gallery, with Hubert Robert’s “The Fountains,” has stuck with me. These paintings stretch from floor to ceiling, giving a sense of grand scale.

This grand scale is what reminds me of how small today’s politics have become.

At one time, our politics pushed the country to do things on a grand scale. Politics got us the Hoover Dam and the interstate highway system, and even landed a man on the moon. Today our politics lacks the imagination needed to move our country forward. From crumbling roads to infant mortality (we rank 18th in the world), our politics fails.

We know what the problems are; we know how to fix them, and we have the resources to do so. But for some reason, today’s politics sees only failure. Our politics have become so impudent that we are left to live amid the ruins of our former greatness.

Looking at “The Fountains,” one sees people amid the ruins of Rome’s former greatness. We can learn from these larger-than-life works of art. Let’s not allow today’s small politics to make our future just another historical point depicted on some grand painting.

Bryan Haugen, Mayer, Minn.

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It’s simply wrong to celebrate it

Rick Nelson’s rave review of Borough (“Foie gras and ice cream? Oh, yeah,” March 21) will no doubt entice many to try this new restaurant. Sadly, Borough does indeed serve foie gras (literally, “fatty liver”). The Borough chefs and Christian Gasset, owner of Au Bon Canard, the farm from which they buy foie gras, will no doubt defend themselves by touting how “humanely” the birds are raised.

While it is true that Au Bon Canard is not a factory farm that air-pumps vast amounts of feed down the goose’s throat, Gasset still practices gavage, or force-feeding. Twice a day he forces back the bird’s head, inserts an 8-inch funnel down its throat and pours nearly a pound of food down its esophagus. It “only” takes seven seconds per animal. How many seconds could Gasset or any other human stand this twice a day?

Seriously, if you have an ounce of compassion for other living beings, you will not support the buying, selling and eating of foie gras that is fattened using gavage — much less glorify it as a culinary delicacy.

Kristin Heiberg, Minneapolis

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Pain at pump? There are several factors

The March 22 article “U.S. oil output is up, but so are prices at the pump” overlooked important points:

1) Analysis of the recently published 10-K reports of major and midsized oil companies shows that overall, oil reserves are not being replaced by discovery. Thus, world oil reserves are decreasing because of depletion.

2) The easy-to-extract conventional oil in the world is being depleted. It is much more difficult and costly to extract nonconventional oil, such as shale oil. (For instance, from BP’s 10-K: “Meeting growing demand for secure and sustainable energy will also present an affordability challenge as the availability of easily accessible fossil fuels slowly diminishes.”)

3) Political tensions in the world still affect crude pricing. At least half of Iran’s exports are shut in because of sanctions on the country’s nuclear development program. Development of Iraq’s oil resources suffers from political instability and poor governance. Libya, Egypt, South Sudan and Nigeria all have had reduced crude exports caused by political instability.

4) Most people who are feeling pain at the pump could save at least 20 percent on their gasoline bills by purchasing smaller vehicles having better gas mileage; by driving at or below the posted speed limit, and by limiting fast acceleration (jack-rabbit starts) from a stop.

Joan Strobel, St. Paul

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To moms in minivans: Some multitasking kills

If I die in a car crash, I’m convinced it will be due to a mom in a minivan on the phone. I see them every day! I know that moms have long prided themselves on multitasking — making lunches, folding laundry and chatting on the phone at the same time, but this is different. Thousands of people die every year because of distracted drivers, and it seems that women, more than men, are talking on the phone while driving. Come on, ladies, be responsible! Are you prepared to explain to the mom of the person you injured or killed why that call was so important?

Susan Armstrong, St. Paul

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I’d pay a buck a stamp for Saturday service

In reference to “Saturday mail delivery may continue” — why not? And why not raise the cost of a stamp from 46 cents to $1 to compensate? We have someone come to our door, pick up a belonging of ours and deliver it clear across the country to a recipient of our choosing. Even a dollar would be a steal.

Ralph Cook, Champlin