Stadium would do little for long-term stability

Only a wealthy, self-interested sports franchise owner would mistake the need for recession-ending investment in infrastructure development for an opportunity to build a new stadium for the Vikings (front page, Jan. 2).

Yes, the new stadium would create jobs, but most would be short-term construction jobs. Once built, it would not increase the long-term employment potential much, if at all, but more important, it would be an inappropriate use of public money, given the current economy.

For $635 million, we could rebuild Minnesota's public school system, invest in creating a more sustainable economy, attract new business to relocate here and undertake a thousand other projects that would support Minnesota's long-range economic stability rather than a short-term expense that relies almost exclusively on disposable income for its existence.



Single-payer system offers huge savings

A Dec. 31 letter writer dismisses widespread sentiment for single-payer health care by saying that replacing the middlemen health insurance companies in Minnesota (and there are several hundred of them marketing thousands of bewildering policies) with a single government-funded payer would not save enough in administrative costs to insure the uninsured.

He cites the example of Blue Cross Blue Shield's mere profits in 2007 of "just" $25 million and administrative costs of "just" 8.7 percent of premium revenues. What he omits is that Blue Cross Blue Shield's enormous profits over several years allow it to sit on reserves of over $1 billion; the 8.7 percent administrative costs (of $8.5 billion in revenues) amounts to $737 million! That computes. So does our cost analysis for implementing the Minnesota version of single-payer, called the Minnesota Health Plan, using 2005 as a baseline, demonstrating that Minnesota could save $6 billion statewide in administrative costs, and just over half of that would be needed to insure the uninsured and underinsured, and eliminate most out-of-pocket costs. No other proposal in Minnesota comes close to that. Most important is the fact that all health insurance companies profit by denying coverage and care.



Adding natural sounds to Bill Kling's creation

Not one to underestimate the importance of his creation, Minnesota Public Radio President Bill Kling has already asked us for a significant piece of our income while we live, a major part of our estate when we die, our car whether we're ready to get rid of it or not, and we can expect that one day he'll want our first-born children. All this for "noncommercial" radio, meaning that commercials are limited to 25 or 30 seconds each.

The University of Minnesota has determined that its advanced instrumentation can coexist with the light rail line down Washington Avenue. What is so sensitive about MPR, other than its sense of entitlement? Let's make sure that the good of the state, the region and city, rather than MPR, is the criterion for routing this exciting new transportation system.



One of the most important concepts of the great 20th-century composer John Cage was acceptance of chance and found sound. Light rail's noise will just add a "Twin Cities signature" to recordings made at the MPR studio. This uniqueness should be embraced, not condemned.



Public employees sacrifice plenty already

The economy hits disaster proportions and a buzz starts in the public consciousness: Reduction of public employees is an easy solution to budget crises.

The common perception that public employees are lazy, overpaid and wasteful has never been true, and for the past several years it has been even less so. Today we are doing more work with less than ever before, pitching in to come up with ideas to save money and continuing to serve our stressed-out customers.

One recent letter writer suggested that public pensions are a luxury we can't afford. I would remind the writer, and anyone of like mind, that during good times public employees consistently earn less than their private-sector counterparts, do not get bonuses and typically get much smaller raises. Our pensions attempt to offset the fact that we have chosen public service as our life's work, and will not earn as much as our fellow citizens in the private sector.



They deserve highest honor we can give

As reported in the Dec. 31 Star Tribune, two young Marines were awarded, posthumously, the Navy Cross, the second-highest combat award for Marines and sailors. They saw a truck speeding toward the base gate they were guarding, weaving through concrete barriers. It was obviously a suicide bomber.

The two Marines stood their ground and opened fire. The truck exploded. Both men were killed protecting the lives of others. They deserve more than the second-highest combat award. They deserve the Congressional Medal of Honor.



Only the latest grocery in St. Paul's downtown

Regarding the Dec. 27 editorial about Lund's coming to downtown St. Paul: There are in fact two grocery stores downtown: Rivertown Market (built with tax dollars) and Eisenberg's Market. Rivertown is a full-service store around 10 years old and Eisenberg's (I'm co-owner) has been on the same corner for 71 years.