HIGHER EDUCATION

Learn for life, but learn a craft for your living

I disagree with the March 22 Letter of the Day ("The 'higher mind' is not just about work, but about life"). The very high cost of a college education justifies a very focused education to a lifelong career.

Anyone can get a "liberal education" by reading a book or attending a community education class. Learning a well-paying trade in a trade school or junior college and on the job can lead to pay as high as that of jobs acquired with an unfocused liberal arts degree.

The family sacrifice and long-term debt generated by a college degree to nowhere is not a good investment. Students must be committed to hard work whatever path of education they choose.

Lifelong learning provides the continuing broad education tailored to each individual.

MICHAEL TILLEMANS, MINNEAPOLIS

• • •

Though a March 20 article ("In tough times, liberal arts colleges defend their value") suggested that many such schools are facing hard times, students who could end up with fewer college choices may be the real losers. Schools that adhere rigidly to the "education for employment" code too often provide only a narrow career path.

As many have discovered recently, consumer interests, technologies and the world economy are all creatures of change, making it more important than ever that young people leave college with the ability to think, to analyze and to adapt to a changing environment.

A solid liberal arts curriculum helps support those objectives. One of the most significant factors to consider in choosing a school is whether internships are given a prominent role. I have found that such real-world experience during college years is a major contributor to a successful career.

SUE LUSE, EAGAN

* * *

Vikings stadium

Obvious objections are swept under the rug

The Star Tribune's editorial urging the Minneapolis City Council to support the Vikings stadium ("City pledge needed to kick-start stadium," March 22) completely sidestepped the major issues with the project, namely:

1. It's expensive. The city would pay $150 million plus ongoing costs, and no matter how spun, that money could be returned to the people or spent on other priorities. In addition, stadiums always end up over budget. The city will be saddled with debt for another generation, just as with the Target Center.

2. It's unnecessary. The Vikings are unlikely to leave town anyway, and even if the Dome is showing its age, can anyone seriously argue that $100 million to $200 million of upgrades couldn't fix any problems? Without the Twins, all this expense would be for only eight football games per year, plus a handful of other events. Most of the time, this billion-dollar stadium will be sitting empty and silent.

3. It's disrespectful to the people of Minneapolis. The city charter is clear: The people want a say in approving major appropriations for sports facilities. It is incredible that the city's own mayor wants to ignore this requirement, and that the Star Tribune supports such a plan.

Perhaps Mayor R.T. Rybak thinks he is above the law, considering his comment that the people can vote him out in 2013. Does he not think he has to obey the law between elections? If not, what else does the mayor think he can impose on our city against the clear will of the people?

KEN DAVIDSON, MINNEAPOLIS

* * *

Horse racing

The case for racinos, from behind the scenes

Behind the scenes at Canterbury Park racetrack is a flurry of activity that most of the fans in the grandstand never see. The people behind the scenes are more like a large extended family that takes care of one another. I own and race a few thoroughbreds each season, but my involvement in this industry is much deeper.

A dentist by day, my practice partners and I donate our time pro bono each Friday during racing months, as well as dental equipment such as an X-ray machine. We provide minimal-cost services to the gate crew, horse grooms, trainers, exercise riders and others directly involved with track operations.

Being a part of this racing industry family means that I, too, would like to see Minnesota adopt racino legislation and support its equine industry similar to other racino states. These states have stimulated economic activity and have added thousands of jobs all through the act of approving racinos.

Beyond the racing industry is a robust statewide network of horse enthusiasts, veterinarians, farm equipment dealers, hay growers, farriers and more that will benefit from racinos.

Without racinos and nationally relevant racing purses, these local jobs are at risk. Minnesota's equine industry is rapidly declining as horsemen leave for racino states and take their entire operations with them, meaning that those who depend on this industry for their livelihood are feeling the economic pressure.

More than 70 percent of Minnesotans favor racinos, including this dentist from Bloomington. Tell your legislators that racinos are a crucial part of the economic health of our state.

DR. DANA ISAACSON, BLOOMINGTON

* * *

Cab drivers' safety

Solutions exist and are used elsewhere

I am still amazed that there isn't more outrage over the recent killing of a taxi driver in Minneapolis. I can't imagine the uneasiness the drivers must feel knowing that at any time they could be the next victim.

As far back as 1969, I was stationed in Japan. The taxis there had not only security shields, but door locks that only the cab driver could open.

If you didn't pay your fare, they simply drove you to the local police station. I would be willing to bet that Japan doesn't have senseless killings of taxi drivers. Why are we always so slow to adopt meaningful solutions to our problems that other countries have solved years ago?

MIKE CUMMINGS, MAPLE PLAIN

* * *

Foot-in-mouth disease

There's only one thing for Maher to do now

I just read a commentary by Bill Maher, and I'm offended. He implies in his March 23 article "Offense intended -- and that's OK" that all pickup trucks have a Rush Limbaugh broadcast on the radio. My pickup truck never listens to far-right hate talk. I demand an apology.

JERRY MILLER, ISLE, MINN.