Michael Anthony, in his May 1 article “Rare bird ends SPCO tenure with a flair,” about rotating artistic partnerships at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, suggested that such an arrangement might be “appropriate for audiences with short attention spans.” It’s not clear if he’s saying audiences do indeed have short attention spans, but if so, it may be a perception among some in the Twin Cities; witness MPR’s classical music selections on weekdays being about three or four minutes in duration. This perception, however, is not only condescending to music listeners but also inaccurate. Witness the number of listeners at a Minnesota Orchestra or SPCO concert reading their programs (for an example of short attention to the music) relative to those engrossed in the music, not to mention having audiences that support two major orchestras in one metro area. Perhaps leaders in the Twin Cities classical music community should give the listeners more credit.
Anthony D. Pellegrini, Bloomington
Help is not so far away
With world-class, platinum-standard recovery resources in his own backyard, why did Prince die “amid frantic rehab plans” (May 4) as he awaited a visit from a California specialist? While this is baffling and tremendously sad, I hope other Minnesotans who are struggling with addiction will learn from it, and will not wait for some guru to sweep in and save the day. Help is a phone call — and a very short drive — away.
Jean Hanvik, Burnsville
• • •
There is no doubt that we have an opioid problem in Minnesota and that we need to protect our citizens who are unable to tolerate opioids without addiction. Before we take actions with serious unintended consequences, though, let’s stop and think.
Of course we have more opioid prescriptions being written lately; as a state, we’re getting older. Older people have more pain in their daily lives. At 61, I’m a good example. In the last 10 years, I’ve had two surgeries to repair Achilles’ tendons, two to repair rotator cuffs, one hip replacement and one knee replacement — with the other scheduled in three weeks. Each of those procedures involves a postsurgical period that is intensely painful. I cannot fathom facing even one without the benefit of opioids.
All my surgeries aside, I’m very lucky — I don’t suffer from opioid addiction. I can use the drugs while they’re needed, then stop. Those not so lucky can quickly develop dependency that is a medical — not a moral — condition. Prince’s tragic death, if proven to be related to opioid addiction, will focus a strong spotlight on controlling these powerful drugs.
Let’s not overreact and restrict them to the point that they are unavailable to serve the purpose for which they were created.
Deb Jensen, Maple Grove
None is perfect; one stands out
Lori Sturdevant’s May 1 column (“A game of ‘what if?’ in the presidential race) considered one possible “what if” with regard to voting systems. However, for more than 60 years, mathematicians and economists have known that there is no best voting system — all have flaws whenever there are more than two candidates, as Arrow’s theorem proved. Plurality voting certainly has major flaws, but so does each other voting method, whether ranked-choice voting, the Borda count, runoff elections or the many other methods thoughtful people have devised over the centuries. I think the political conversation would benefit from a broader understanding of the limits of each method of voting and conversation about their differing advantages.
Some mathematicians doing research on voting theory, such as Don Saari, have argued that the Borda count may offer the best option. As with ranked-choice voting, voters rank their choices. However, the Borda count assigns points for the different rankings. For example, if voters can rank their top three, a candidate gets three points for each first-place ranking, two points for each second-place ranking and one point for a third-place ranking. The candidate with the most points is declared the winner, without a need for recounting. This method, used in sports rankings, has many of the advantages Sturdevant extols for ranked-choice voting.
Thomas Q. Sibley, St. Joseph, Minn.
THE 2016 ELECTION
Could this be the ears’ year?
Like so many other Minnesota Republicans, I have a hard time getting on the Donald Trump bandwagon. Nothing I can think of would change my mind, and I reckon that his bullying tactics, his persona and his lack of respect for so many will not endear me to him to the point that I would cast a ballot for him. On the other hand, although the factors are different, I can’t see myself voting for Hillary Clinton, either. Neither is worthy of four years in the White House. So, as I imagine myself looking at the presidential ballot on Nov. 8, I can either leave that portion empty or I can vote for one of the obscure third parties. But, wait, for many a presidential election in the past, a number of write-in votes have been cast for Mickey Mouse. With the bad taste so many have for the candidates available to us, maybe this could be Mickey’s year! I even have a campaign slogan to promote it. How about: “It’s time to put the Mouse in the House”?
Marvin A. Koski, Grand Rapids, Minn.
Here’s your explanation
Regarding the two May 1 Opinion Exchange articles on global trade deals, the Good Book says the rain falls on the just and unjust alike, and this explains how the global economy really works.
While Bonnie Blodgett sees Machiavellian machinations at every turn, Mike Meyers states that we all benefit from these deals and that there are enough shades (or Ray-Bans) of gray to make any sun lover go colorblind. When a worker loses a job in the Rust Belt because China can manufacture that steel product at a lower cost due to government subsidies and monetary manipulation, that is a real loss to the worker in the U.S. but a supposed gain for the average American consumer. When a cheaply made product fails, that cost is spread out over a buyer-beware economy and chalked up as a cost of doing global business.
The flip side to this global economy is a closed local economy in which lack of competition causes goods and services to be artificially inflated — a regressive tax for anyone living in that economy. Another downside to a closed economy is a sense of entitlement generated by these false metrics. We saw this phenomena in the housing bubble of 2008, in which unqualified buyers defaulted on homes they should never have been sold in the first place. Well-paying jobs in manufacturing are earned, and are not an entitlement. They are earned because of better product quality, efficiency in production and facility with proprietary technology. Of course, there will be those who will build their business by stealing trade secrets from others, so any trade deal will have to address those issues if it is to work.
International trade deals are neither good nor bad; they are just the new normal. Let’s face it: In a global economy, it’s their world; we just live in it.
Benjamin Cherryhomes, Hastings
Pay attention to the next step
Attention, those who have lost faith in the ability of the government to make a positive difference in your life: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has just proposed a rule to prohibit financial companies from making you waive your right to sue them if they mistreat you or cheat you. Financial companies have been able to force you to agree to binding arbitration if you were unfairly treated, forcing you to go one-on-one against them. Under the new rule, you and others facing a similar problem could join in class-action suits. This is an excellent example of the government doing good for the people.
However, this is only a proposed rule. Now you must pay close attention to which politicians will take the lead in fighting the rule, standing against you and in favor of big finance. Watch closely, and remember their names.
Wayne Bjorlie, West St. Paul