Imagine you drove your gasoline fueled car into a station to fill up. You wanted to use your bank card or credit card at the pump, but saw no way to swipe your card to pay for the fuel.

Imagine trying to use one of the new parking meters, but finding there's no way to deposit cash nor swipe one of your payment cards — cards that you can use pretty much anywhere, any time. In both instances, you see a call-in help line, and find that you have to use a proprietary card or install a proprietary application on an Android or iPhone. Both the card and the application require you to be tied to the company that makes the pumps or the meters, and you must deposit money up front to use them.

If you drive an electric car, or a plug-in hybrid, and have wanted to use one of the ChargePoint stations that have been popping up at government buildings, libraries, malls, etc., you don't have to imagine anything, because you've lived it. And there's no alternative available to you outside of charging your car only at home.

I almost regret buying my Chevy Volt. At least I can use my credit card at any gas station, and run the internal combustion engine to charge my car away from home. So much for trying to wean off petroleum, but at least I tried.

JEFF DAVIS, St. Paul

BENEFITS

Maps help explain why we reward dependence

Bravo, Gregg J. Cavanagh! You have summarized well the challenges before us ("All quiet, too quiet, in allocation nation," Oct. 22). I believe that very few of those on the right preaching fiscal discipline and personal responsibility are any more "mean-spirited" than a parent administering "tough love" to a child who may have taken a bad step and has to work out of it. Your reference to handing out brochures warning against obesity at the end of the all-you-can-eat buffet is spot on. We suffer from a system that has created and continues to reward generational dependence and poverty, and our only answer today is to increase the benefit level in order to lift people out of poverty. It has not and will not work.

I kept a map of the United States, colored red and blue based on the 2012 Electoral College results. That map is mostly blue, consistent with the outcome of the election. I kept another map, though, that shows the results by county. It is staggering how red the overall map becomes. The blue envelops both coasts, Chicago, the Twin Cities and Cleveland — our population centers, where most of the benefit spending lands.

That we cannot reverse this trend is obvious proof that those who benefit from the current system see absolutely nothing wrong with it, either as a direct beneficiary or as one who believes in a system that rewards not personal endeavor, but rather the filling out of forms and remaining dependent on the federal government.

DENNIS WILLIAMS, St. Paul

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In trying to reframe Mitt Romney's 47 percent argument, the writer is putting the cart before the horse. What President Ronald Reagan promised 30-plus years ago as "trickle down" economics turned out to be "trickle up" economics. Wages have stayed almost flat since he was president, while prices have gone up. Hardworking people are being squeezed from both ends. The subsidies that the government "gives" to workers should instead be viewed as a subsidy to the corporations who refuse to pay their employees a livable wage. People want a comfortable life — not the cynical view of "freebies" that the writer assumes.

ELIZABETH T. CANTRELL, Burnsville

STADIUM VS. BIRDS

How to get the cash for the proper glass

As an impatient taxpayer who has no time for corporate welfare, I believe I have an idea or solution to the "bird safe" glass issue. For every Vikings player or staff member arrested in cases of child abuse, assault, sexual assault, DWI, resisting arrest, fraud, etc., we the taxpayers dock the Vikings $1 million per offense until we get the windows we want. All's fair in corporate welfare and windows.

LOUISE REID, Minneapolis

CHILD PROTECTION

Mother should also be held responsible

In reading "Dad gets 40 years in girl's death" (Oct. 22), something glaring struck me at the end of the article. Christopher Peterson was already "under scrutiny" in December for bruises found along the baby's jawline during a medical exam. Peterson told authorities he had grabbed the infant's jaw to control her mouth while feeding her a bottle. In March, Peterson was convicted of a misdemeanor for choking the baby's mother, Amber Gundy. She was well aware this was an unstable, violent man, yet she continued a relationship with him and had him living in her home, trusting him unsupervised with their baby daughter. On July 5, Peterson killed the baby for "fussing too much." He is sentenced to 40 years in prison. It seems obvious that two people should have been sentenced to prison.

Celeste LaMosse, Eden Prairie

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I am a former child protection worker with Ramsey County Human Services. On reading Daniel Heimpel's comments on the current status of child protection in Minnesota ("Does race affect child protection"?, Oct. 20), I agree race is a factor. However, people in poverty are prone to many things, except money. Years ago, the National Association of Social Workers alerted us that social services were going to be led by a business model. These business-model people were the same people who led us into an economic decline. What happened in Minnesota's CPS is a mirror of this. We had Budget Protection Services, white liberals and people who made a good living promoting this holocaust on children. Not mentioned are the children who were never referred into the system because of people's discouragement with the reporting system. All these children need a Jeff Anderson. With appropriate legal services, this situation could be turned around quickly.

JACK JONES, White Bear Lake

GARRISON KEILLOR

'Radio Man' play is indeed revealing

I finally saw the Garrison Keillor play, "Radio Man," at the History Theatre. Contrary to the Star Tribune review ("Keillor doesn't tell us much about self," Sept. 30), Garrison does reveal things about his life: his responsibility for the breakup of a romantic relationship with a woman on the show, his inability to relate to people in real life vs. talking into a microphone. The play is much more polished than a "Prairie Home Companion" show. It's funny and poignant, and our Saturday matinee audience gave the talented cast a standing ovation. This is the last weekend.

DON OLSON, Minneapolis