THE AMERICAN WAY
Who’s truly making a contribution?
Our newspaper brings together people from so many places. And, it makes me think about how we value those people. Marcia Wyatt teaches poor kids at Elizabeth Hall elementary school and the story of her dedication is inspiring (“In for the long haul,” May 6). Her work results in a stronger Minnesota. Strong teachers and strong parents make strong students. Our future depends on having so many Marcia Wyatts in our school system. Then there is the ex-head of Target, who may be getting millions of dollars as he leaves. While running a successful business also contributes to society, why do we compensate an executive so much more than Ms. Wyatt?
I believe in the capitalist system. But that’s not what we have now. An entrenched oligarchy’s disproportionate power does not seem to be working for the betterment of society — unless, say, that executive contributes heartily in many ways to improve opportunity for Wyatt’s students. In that there would be great value.
Richard Breitman, Minneapolis
• • •
Thanks to D.J. Tice for his May 4 column “For those who have faith in the free market, an asterisk.” He shines the spotlight on the drastic pay differential between CEOs and the rest of us. To further demonstrate the inequality, the Star Tribune could include not only the CEO’s total compensation in its “CEO Pay Watch,” but the salary or hourly wages of the lowest-paid employee in that company. Maybe then the executives and board members would begin to understand how obscene the differences are.
Mary Hoopman, Minneapolis
• • •
How sad to read that the health of our economy trumps the long-term sustainability of our planet and our species. The May 8 article “Birthrate drop is an ominous sign for the economy” is a perfect example of how we humans are so caught up in our fight for prosperity that we are unable to see how devastating our greed and rising population have been, and will continue to be, for every ecosystem on Earth. Human overpopulation, and the environmental catastrophe that comes with it, is causing the sixth great extinction in Earth’s history. Instead of whining that the economy will suffer and that we may not be able to afford powerful trucks and boats and oversized houses, we should celebrate each human being who makes a conscious decision to have a small family or no children.
Leif Carlson, Minneapolis
DOROTHY DAY CENTER
There’s no better time to fight homelessness
Thank you, Lori Sturdevant, for highlighting the importance of a bonding bill under consideration at the State Capitol (“A billion-dollar discipline isn’t going to house the homeless,” May 4). Minnesota’s homeless population has steadily increased since the closing of our state-run mental institutions in the 1980s. Now is the time to address the chronic problem of homelessness. Recently, the Minneapolis and St. Paul school superintendents held a news conference to urge our legislators to approve $100 million for affordable housing. They pointed out the obvious: “How can we expect children to focus on their studies when they don’t know where they’re going to sleep tonight?” A 2012 Wilder Research study of the homeless in Minnesota found a 22 percent increase of two-parent homeless families since 2009.
If you don’t see a moral reason to help lift people out of homelessness, consider this: The children will fall behind in school, increasing the likelihood they’ll need more social services throughout their lives. The parents won’t be able to find work and won’t contribute to the tax base. So we can take care of the problem now or pay dramatically more in the future. Which makes more sense to you?
Roberta Becker, Minneapolis
• • •
Some legislators are trying to fight homelessness; others, not so much. So often we read of the extraordinarily high payouts for corporate executives in our area. Maybe they could contribute part of their largesse and their political power, too, to attack this problem. As the article suggested, perhaps they could stand in the dinner queue in a cold rain outside Dorothy Day along with the legislators. After all, you really can’t take it with you.
Judy Crawford, Wayzata
Court ruling was a serious misreading
The Supreme Court decision on prayers in public legislative meetings opens up the floodgates in states, counties and cities across the nation. Many prayers offered are sectarian given by Christians. The comments by civic elected leaders in a May 8 article (“Green light on prayer gets ‘amen’ from cities”) do not reflect the Minnesota I know.
The ruling cited as a precedent a prayer given by the Rev. Jacob Duche in 1774, the first chaplain of the Continental Congress. It recognized the Rev. Duche as a patriot. It failed to note that many of his contemporaries called him a traitor when he wrote George Washington asking him to surrender to the British in our war for independence.
The America of 1774 was not the one that exists today. It was basically Christian. Today, we are more diverse religiously, with a growing number claiming no religious faith.
As a Christian minister, I found the insensitivity (of the city leaders in the article) to our religious diversity appalling. I have given prayers at the opening of legislative sessions in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and at many other public meetings. Because of my appreciation of all religions, or of people with no religion, my prayers were never sectarian or Christian. In no way did I compromise my own faith by including all people.
My fellow UCC minister, the Rev. Barry Lynn, is right on the court’s ruling: “The Supreme Court just relegated millions of Americans, both believers and nonbeliever, to second-class citizenship.”
Willis Merriman, Minneapolis