Missing the forest for the trees

Our legislators have proposed to cut old growth hardwoods from two of our state parks and sell them for a few thousand dollars.

 They see the value of the trees as cash to plug Minnesota's short-term budget hole.

So much for the public's majestic trees that have survived a couple centuries of Minnesota winters and human predation.

In a few more generations, our progeny can again see fully mature walnut trees in one of our state parks, if we haven't by then also sold the property to a developer to balance our budget.

Legislators also have proposed to grab transit sales tax revenue, intended to pay for rail and busway capital infrastructure, to pay for bus operations instead.

And in protecting tax breaks for the very rich, our legislators again would sacrifice the community's long-term interest in favor of short-term budget fixes.

It's a stunted nonvision of the future that they offer us.


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House Speaker Kurt Zellers described state government as a "company" and the state's citizens as "customers" ("GOP rushes to craft budget," March 28). That false comparison lies at the heart of the Republican dilemma.

State government is a political organ created by the people through the Constitution to do the will of the people.

If Zellers and his comrades would take off their ideological blinders, they would see that it is not the will of the people that thousands of their fellow citizens be denied basic health and welfare needs, that funds to the state's colleges and university be slashed, that public safety be compromised, and that the livability of our central cities be sacrificed for partisan reasons.

The GOP has seriously underestimated the quality of the citizens who elected them to office. Their ideology blinds them to the fact that since Minnesota became a state in 1858, its citizens have proven time after time that they are a big-hearted and generous people who put a high value on establishing a high quality of life for all citizens and are willing to pay to maintain that quality of life.

Yes, Rep. Zellers, you can come to the people and ask for more money.


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The true manipulators don't like competition

Chuck Chalberg wrote an interesting article weighing the pros and cons of benefits to public employees and to wealth creators ("Why public unions are a fair target," March 24).

First, would wealth creators be able to create wealth without public employees? Who would teach the workers that wealth creators need? Who would plow the roads that wealth creators need?

Second, how many wealthy are really wealth creators? Aren't many of them wealth manipulators or wealth maintainers? How many benefits have wealth manipulators accrued to themselves through lobbyists, another form of union?

For example, why does a snowplow operator pay a higher tax rate on $1,000 overtime than does a dart-throwing stock buyer pay on $1,000 capital gain? The latter is not creating wealth, but is only maintaining market liquidity. The wealth manipulators have used their "unions" to lobby Congress for this benefit.

The real problem is the wealth manipulators don't like competition for power.


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Few opportunities where people live

I do not doubt any of the possible reasons explored for the racial disparity in joblessness in "Our black-white jobless gap: Worst in nation" (March 23). Based on my experience as a job counselor at a nonprofit organization, I would add that areas like north Minneapolis have very few employment opportunities.

I would even describe the area as a job desert. People living here must travel far (often to suburbs) to places where the jobs are, and if Metro Transit is the only mode of transport, this can be a long and difficult daily commute (at least an hour and a half).

As for those of us who still don't think racism plays a role in the gaps that we face: There were so many times that I (as a job counselor) would ask clients to call an employer who had a "help wanted" sign in the window.

When any black clients called, that employer would say it was no longer hiring. When I (a white person) called, the employer would happily describe the position to me in detail.

Yes, racism is alive and thriving. As an old friend used to say: "We're not yet holding hands and singing kumbaya in Minnesota." No, we are not -- but it is up to us to make it happen.


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Waste disposal issues

Composting is a great way to reduce garbage

After reading "MPCA: Let's dump Hopkins' garbage in Eden Prairie" (March 26), then reading the online comments, in which no one had a solution, I say look to the city of Hutchinson!

My garbage is hauled to Creekside Soils in Hutch, where it's composted and recycled into soil that I can buy back at local stores.

We're lucky enough here in the southwest suburbs to have a hauler, Organic Disposal, that is dedicated to offering organic composting.

With a family of four, our landfill trash has decreased dramatically: bones, food scraps, food containers, paper towels and the like now all are being composted.

My kids' school is doing the same thing. It's also being done at Target Field (a little bit), and they're doing it in California.

Let's build more composting facilities, not create more landfills.


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Let the debate over her birth certificate begin

If Michele Bachmann is about to announce her candidacy, she had better have a birth certificate ready. She supposedly is from somewhere in Iowa, and that is in the United States. Or maybe it was Mars, not in the United States.


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