The deal and the damage done

Now that a deal has been reached to avoid default on the United States’ sovereign debt and end the partial government shutdown, many voices are hailing it as a triumph for reasonableness and sensibility. There may even be some truth to that.

However, serious voices busy themselves asking serious questions about what has transpired. Has this development indeed ushered in a new era of progress and placed us on track for a sustainable fiscal future? Or has it done nothing to forestall the financial ruin that, despite today’s fleeting optimism, virtually everyone still thinks is coming?

A deal may have been reached, but it may only have delayed the inevitable. The only thing that seems clear is that real solutions will be those without the overheated rhetoric and melodramatic posturing.


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Those on right wing of the Republican Party think they fought the good fight. This “good fight” negatively affected the financial well-being of hundreds of thousands of government workers while not affecting those Republicans at all. It could increase the borrowing costs of the United States, because the strength of the dollar is now encumbered with partisan politics. It has put the good faith and credit of the United States in question — they basically said it is OK not to pay our bills. It will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to have paid people for not working and to reopen government agencies.

If this was a “good fight,” what would be a “bad fight?”




Don’t assume freight design is unworkable

Responding to Metropolitan Council Member Steve Elkins’ Oct. 17 commentary regarding the Southwest light-rail decision delay (“Why freight rail can’t be rerouted to St. Louis Park”): No, we don’t need to plow new ground on freight-rail relocation options; all we need is the straight skinny. Elkins accepts at face value the railroad’s contentions, but others don’t — including experienced freight train operators. If the timeout is merely a tactical gesture, it’s a waste of time.

The many years of Southwest planning can be characterized as: the wrong people, working at the wrong time, on the wrong issue-framing, using the wrong process, yielding the wrong outcome. To achieve a viable regional consensus, a genuine effort at making it right needs to include an unbiased assessment of the reasonableness of the railroad’s demands. If several more stations, including West Lake, are going to be “thrown under the bus” with freight tracks/trains immediately adjacent, people need to feel confident that the wool wasn’t pulled over the eyes of decisionmakers.



The writer is a civil engineer.



Vying for Bachmann’s seat: The same old

Of the nearly half-dozen Republican candidates jockeying for Michele Bachmann’s congressional seat, all are either current or former elected officials.

Despite the oft-repeated disdain Republicans espouse regarding government, the irony of their eagerness to go hat in hand in search of a taxpayer-funded opportunity shouldn’t go unnoticed.

What the good folks of Minnesota don’t need is another unemployed politician looking to claw back into politics. As the past few weeks have so clearly demonstrated, the status quo doesn’t work, and that is in large part due to the dank stagnation of political careerists clogging up the public forum.

Innovative solutions don’t come from talking heads and ladder climbers; they’re born from private citizens unsullied by the machinations of retail politics. No matter how hard this crop of congressional hopefuls claims to be different, remember: They’re not.

MARCO A. LANZ, St. Cloud



35 candidates is a good problem to have

What exactly is the problem with recreational candidates (editorial, Oct. 14)? Claiming that voters are “vexed” over seeing pirate or communist candidates on the ballot is a made-up problem, and frankly, if you can’t figure out what that means, you are uninformed and probably deserve to be a bit confused. “Weeding out” law-abiding citizens from running for public office is an undemocratic slippery slope, especially when money is to be used as the measuring stick.

St. Paul has only three candidates for mayor? Good for St. Paul! Let’s keep with the Minneapolis tradition and try our best not to be like our neighbor. A more colorful field means a more colorful debate, which can only be good for the city.




847 words too many were spilled on topic

When I read the article “It’s so not cool when a good word is overused” (Oct. 17), I got a chill. I thought the writer must have been looking to exercise his fingers, and I was reminded of a line by A.E. Housman: “Nature, not being content with denying him the ability to think, has endowed him with the ability to write.”

The article was well-written, but said dreadfully little. In short, it was not cool.

DON ANDERSON, Minneapolis

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After Seth Stevenson has eradicated the trite use of “cool,” he can get to work on “awesome.”