While I agree with Jim Mulder that we need “a shared commitment to success for one Minnesota” (“One Minnesota: Your undivided attention, please,” Opinion Exchange, July 29), his “Social contract for Rural Minnesota” misses the point.
We all know that rural Minnesota has an aging and declining population, which underlies all the problems he seeks to address. Thus, these parts of the state need more and younger people, and the obvious source of such people is more immigration. This point was made by an editorial in the Mankato Free Press that the Star Tribune reprinted (“The immigrant workforce: It’s critical for Minnesota’s economy,” July 24).
Thus, the social contract requires development of welcoming rural communities for people from all over the world.
Duane Krohnke, Minneapolis
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According to Mulder, the hopes and dreams of rural Minnesotans are centered on education, health care, housing, transportation, public infrastructure and economic development. These are things traditionally associated with what we used to call “good government.” Good government was not something that other people provided to us for free. We used to manage it ourselves, by hiring competent people to work for us and paying them to provide the services we wanted. Since not everyone used all of these services to the same extent and since some people were inclined to avoid paying their fair share, we came up with a system that had an element of compulsion to it, and made sure the burden would be spread as widely as possible, taking into account each person’s ability to pay. This was called “taxes.”
For many years now, rural Minnesotans have expressed (through their votes) a strong and growing preference for less government and lower taxes. Not surprisingly, this has coincided with deteriorating education, health care, housing, transportation, public infrastructure and economic development. There are those who say the “private sector” will some day provide solutions to these problems through some kind of “market” mechanism. But the private sector and the market are motivated entirely by something called “profit.” If providing needed services to rural Minnesotans was a profitable business, the private sector and the market would likely have discovered that by now. Of course, if rural Minnesotans were willing to pay the full cost of the services they want, plus an attractive profit margin, they might attract some private-sector attention. But it would be cheaper just to pay taxes for good government — like we did it in the good old days.
John Clifford, Minneapolis
Interoperability is the elusive goal
In response to the July 29 article “Diagnosis dropped between hospitals,” there are some legitimate concerns raised around the harm to patients with transfers across facilities. It is true that health care still uses faxes and phones as a means to transfer information a majority of the time; as a result, information is often lost in transaction or translation. A solution proposed was EMR (electronic medical record) interoperability. In Minnesota, more than 80 percent of health facilities have EMRs, yet we have made few strides in achieving interoperability. Technology is not the limiting factor to achieve this. The financial sector has taught us that 100 percent interoperability is possible in a secure manner. In my opinion, cost is the factor inhibiting this change. Unless the Legislature steps up and mandates this and funding is allocated for health systems to enable participation, this will continue to be a distant target and patient care will continue to suffer.
Dr. Deepti Pandita, Minneapolis
The writer is chief health information officer for Hennepin Healthcare.
Repercussions of targeting Franken
We owe a debt to Lori Sturdevant for giving a nod to the complexity of the #MeToo issues (“#MeToo has not subsided. It’s on this year’s ballot,” July 29). While there are countless stories of actual wrongdoing, and I have told mine in a previously published letter, it is also possible to rush to judgment. I believe this is what happened to U.S. Sen. Al Franken. He immediately apologized and asked for an investigation by the Senate.
But right away, state Rep. Erin Murphy publicly urged him to resign, as did U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillebrand and many others. They tarred and feathered him, and paraded him before the nation until he did resign — never mind that three or four of the accusers were “anonymous” and that the first complaint came from a Fox employee and close friend of Sean Hannity. This immediate demand for his resignation showed colossally bad judgment, in my opinion.
It all seemed too neat, and a surefire way to get rid of the most effective Democrat in the U.S. Senate. And some of our female elected representatives fell for it — they led the charge. So, I think Murphy — the DFL-endorsed candidate in the governor’s race — has a lot to answer for, along with the others who followed suit. Franken asked for his day in court, and he deserved to have it.
Mary McLeod, St. Paul