That was a pretty good article on Minnesota’s days of cheaper electricity seeming numbered (“Used to cheap power, state is in for a jolt,” front page, Nov. 17). These days, however, the cost of electricity is not simply a matter of the dollar cost of a kilowatt of electricity. We need to add in the costs of power outages to the local economy; the cost of fires, which we now see as astronomical as we watch California burn up due to PG&E’s failure to upgrade lines and equipment; and the cost of climate chaos (we read in the Star Tribune recently how Minnesota’s tamarack are being eaten alive by Larch beetles that are having a heyday due to our warmer climate). I’m sure we could drive down the kilowatt cost if didn’t upgrade equipment and invest in renewables. A penny-wise, pound-foolish decision. Certainly, though, in the face of the need to upgrade, we need to consider how to relieve the burden on those less able to pay. This is something the Legislature could address, or the Public Utilities Commission, perhaps with a scaled rate, or some other mechanism.

Barbara Draper, Minneapolis

FUNDAMENTALISM

Christian extremes are worrisome but aren’t really the whole story

I had mixed reactions to Peter M. Leschak’s Nov. 17 commentary, “Getting back to fundamentalism.” I am always sorry to hear from people who have had a negative experience and bitter memories stemming from their time in a faith community.

First, I agree with Leschak’s concern about a “fundamentalism” defined as an intolerant, politicized, culture-warring movement with theocratic tendencies. However, Christianity is quite diverse and includes those who have opposed what is termed “Christian nationalism,” which blurs the distinction between church and state. There are also a great many faith communities that have advocated for racial justice, civil rights and the protection of immigrants.

Second, Leschak sees faith and science as being in irreconcilable conflict, whereas many people of faith see no real conflict and embrace both science and faith. He refers to “the God of the gaps,” the old idea that as science advances, God is pushed to the periphery and becomes irrelevant. However, more thoughtful Christians see a “God of the Center” ­— the creator and sustainer of all the complexity and diversity of the natural world and the finely tuned forces of the universe.

Steve Baird, Roseville

‘TRUMP-ITIS’

Wouldn’t one take into account the cause of the inflammation?

In identifying “Trump-itis, a media plague” (Nov. 17), D.J. Tice seems to imply that journalism on the left is as guilty of excess as on the right. There is nothing close enough to equivalence to allow splitting the difference. MSNBC delivers news with a point of view and a tight focus on the horrors of Donald Trump. It doesn’t pretend to give its viewers all the news. Fox News is broadcast from an alternate reality that is constantly reinvented to fend off the latest threat from real reality. I recommend everybody watch it at least once. It’s scarier than any zombie movie.

“Trump-itis” is just a kinder, gentler term for “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” an imagined disorder that allows the right to dismiss the concerns of the left without having to address them. The president has been credibly accused of rape, consumer fraud, tax fraud, contract fraud, grounding his domestic policy in hatred for Barack Obama, taking his foreign policy from Vladimir Putin, racism, promoting racism, contempt for the judiciary, contempt for anything that stands between him and absolute power, contempt for democracy everywhere in the world, having a pathological personality disorder, impulsiveness, laziness, compulsive lying, taking pleasure in causing suffering, an inability to acknowledge he ever made a mistake, business incompetence, and treating the Oval Office as a piggy bank. I myself believe he is demented and started from not very smart in the first place.

What could possibly be an “inflammatory overreaction” to a president whose only virtue is incompetence?

John Bickner, Stillwater

IMMIGRATION

Fee is an obstacle for asylum-seekers; a wealthy U.S. can cover the costs

Recently, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), through the Trump administration, decided to significantly increase the fees for citizenship application, including a fee for those seeking asylum (“Proposal would increase immigration fees,” Nov. 10). If this new policy goes into effect, the United States would be one of only four countries to charge a fee for asylum applications. I was struck by how this will put many people seeking asylum in the U.S. in a difficult and possibly unattainable position. Many of these asylum-seekers come from impoverished countries and leave everything to seek better lives. Even a modest fee is nearly impossible for those fleeing their homes to escape persecution and find a safe haven here. USCIS indicates that the $50 fee is necessary to cover some of the costs of processing the asylum requests. However, the U.S. is the richest country in the world. We have the capability to bear this cost and should as a moral obligation take care of those who are in need. This fee is essentially a tactic to prevent people from even seeking safety within our nation. I urge USCIS to reconsider its position.

Erin Lowe, Albert Lea, Minn.

OPPRESSION IN CHINA

Leaked files don’t show the half of what ‘re-education’ there means

The almost full-page article “Leaked files show China’s mass detentions” (Sept. 17) was wholly inadequate. In contrast, weeks ago there was a horrifying report in a national news magazine (The Week) about one of China’s so-called re-education camps. It was provided by an escapee from a camp.

About 2,500 people, mostly from a minority group, are divided into groups of 20 and kept in rooms that are approximately 13 feet by 13 feet. The toilet is a plastic bucket each person can use for two minutes a day. It’s emptied only once a day. Prisoners must memorize propaganda and declare love for their president. Meals are a cloudy soup and a slice of bread. People are subjected to medical experiments. The prisoners range in age from 84 to 13. They are businessmen, nurses and doctors, peasants, or others. People are shackled during sleep, and are allowed to sleep only on one side. Any infraction of impossible rules can result in torture. In a “black room” set aside for special punishment, prisoners can be forced to sit on a chair of nails or have their fingernails pulled out. In one case when a woman was repeatedly violated by guards in front of other people, a number of those people were led away never to be seen again after the expressions on their faces showed horror or disgust.

Sometimes “real news” isn’t pretty.

Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park

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