'Obamacare' solves what market can't


Conservatives like to believe that markets can solve every problem. Health care is the perfect example of a problem that a market can never solve completely.

As a consumer of health care, I don't know what I will buy, when I will buy it or how much it will cost, and on top of that, it will likely be one of the most complex and expensive purchases of my life. Health care is not a market. Period.

"Obamacare" does as much as it can to make health care a market, getting 90 percent of the way there, including keeping insurance in the private sector instead of making it government-run. The remaining piece, the fact that everyone must participate in the market, the individual mandate, is what is critical to making any other market aspects work.

Republicans have to get over that fact and start supporting what is their own admittedly flawed and incomplete solution to the massive problem of health care costs and services in this country.


* * *

Minority hiring

A view from within the construction industry


I've worked in heavy construction, have seen how it works, and have thoughts about the March 28 story "Higher minority-hiring goal riles construction industry."

Often, contractors and trades hold a jealous grip on jobs. The positions are well-paid; there's a take-care-of-our-own ethos, and there's a zero-sum fear: If "they" gain something, then "we" lose something.

At the systemic level, little energy exists to understand the historic and current differential access to quality education, training, internships, apprenticeships and jobs. Our institutions don't notice racial disparities because privilege is often invisible to those who hold it.

At the interpersonal level, since most folks have a moral conscience and need self-protective justification for supporting oppression, we have to convince ourselves and each other that "they" are in some way inherently inferior and undeserving (intelligence, work ethic, competence, morality), or we cleave to the argument that change is too difficult.

Those who attempt to address the imbalances are routinely marginalized as delusional, racist, socialist, or just uppity.

Often, minorities who get in find themselves demeaned, given the dirtiest tasks, laid off first and invalidated with the old standards: "Can't you take a joke?" "I'm sure you're overreacting." "Do you want this job or not?"

I wore a hard hat, carried my lunch and worked in the weather, and I believe we can do better as a society and as individuals. And I'm white.


* * *


Ruling is out of touch with their situations


It is easy for a judge to decide that pay can be cut from caregivers because family members have "moral obligations" and as a means to reduce state deficit ("Judge: Aides' pay can be cut," March 27).

If ever a tax proposal was put on the backs of the poor, this is it.

Reducing family pay from $11 to $9 an hour is like deciding that we'll up the price of beer two bucks a glass at the proposed Vikings stadium to help defray the Wilfs' costs. That would sure cause an outrage.

How about a little outrage for the injudiciJon Tevlin

ous prospect of stealing money from the pockets of people who have already taken on their "moral obligation" to family every day of their lives?

I suspend belief at this judge's ludicrous concept. Time to start putting back the nice in Minnesota Nice for our most deserving citizens.


* * *

Small towns

What's needed are genuine opportunities


I thank Jon Tevlin for his insight in his March 27 column ("Small-town reality is bleak when the streets empty of tourists").

I grew up in small-town Minnesota, and his observations are mostly spot-on from what I recall. Wonderful little communities that time seems to pass by, often inhabited today by people in sometimes desperate circumstances.

They don't need anyone's pity. What's needed in these outstate outposts are more genuine economic opportunities.

But the realities of today's world dictate that most -- at least those not actively engaged in or supporting agricultural pursuits -- will end up leaving these areas and migrating to population centers for their shot at prosperity.

What's lost in this transition is a way of living that can be unhurried, peaceful, tranquil. (And isn't this what we all strive for on our vacations?)

It's unfortunate. I wish I knew what could turn this tide. Meanwhile, my hometown and other communities like it continue to shrivel up and disappear.


* * *


Art, including acting, is one way to seek it


Rachel Manteufeel, in "It's his story; he's sticking to it" (March 26) writes that "the job of an actor is to convince someone of something that is not true." Hmmm. She ought to think a little more about that, maybe see a great play or two.

Actors, with significant help from writers and directors, often deal with different truths, often larger truths, but truth nonetheless. Without these artistic realities we would not be fully civilized, not have as fine a sense of our value as humans.

But she's in good company. Picasso got it wrong, too, when he said that "art is a lie that makes us realize the truth." Close. The art of his words, like his paintings, is truth in a special way that we can all admire. He does not lie.