Be someone's connection

Lilly is a member of my church in Woodbury. Lilly is legally blind and lives in her house by herself since her husband died three years ago.

For the last two years Lilly has received Meals on Wheels five days a week. The Meals on Wheels program allows Lilly to remain in her home of 40-plus years. The social aspect is important to Lilly too. The daily meal delivery connects Lilly to the outside world. The Meals on Wheels program provides a basic service to seniors and homebound people and needs the metro area's continuing support.

It only takes an hour to deliver meals and you can volunteer your time from once a month to once a week. I am a 12-year-old Boy Scout and my family signed up to become volunteers. I encourage readers to donate their time.


The difference between Limbaugh and Franken

At last, a reader's question that even my dull brain can answer: " come when Rush Limbaugh speaks it is 'hate' and when Al Franken does it is 'satire'?" (Readers write, July 8).

A sense of humor and the talent to make it work are key elements in the answer. With admissions that sometimes Franken wasn't funny and Limbaugh never is, at least not on purpose. Rush continues to trade on hate for a high salary instead of growing up by being honest with himself.

The query also begs an important quality, which is observing the difference between irony and straight-forward expression. Since clueless new conservatives got hold of their party, old-line conservatives have had to squirm in the background, waiting for this time to pass. Neo-cons either can't or won't understand ambiguity, so their world has no gray areas. More's the pity for our nation.


Former army general was on to something

The qualities that made John McCain a hero as a prisoner of war are clear -- defiance, the ability to withstand pain, and uncompromising opposition to and hatred of the enemy. These characteristics do not automatically transfer as good qualities to a president as commander-in-chief. In this 2008 election, such qualities are at best irrelevant, and probably negative.

Former Army General Wesley Clark was right. Nothing in John McCain's military record qualifies him to be president.


Energy solutions are myriad

Nick Coleman's idea in his July 10 column that the energy demands came be solved by just increasing the efficiency of autos is a classic example of the simple-minded thinking going on about this issue. We must consider and pursue all options available including drilling for oil, nuclear power, wind, solar, coa, and increased efficiencies in all area of energy usage, included cars and trucks.

I think it will take longer to convert the American public to high-efficiency autos than to drill and begin producing new oil fields and/or implement the other energy options.

For automobiles, first more new high-efficiency concepts have to be conceived. Also, those existing concepts need more development for widespread usage. Then the science and engineering has to be implemented and production methods developed. Then the consumer has to be sold on the new ideas and all the old autos disposed of. This is all generations away. Our culture and government will not allow for dictates from on high to implement a program of this extent and complexity.

We need to get away from one-issue ideas to solve our energy problems. I thank Nick Coleman for making this so apparent.


Fuzzy relationship between fare hikes and ridership rates

A July 9 letter writer criticized the Metropolitan Council's proposed transit fare increases, saying the increases could potentially reverse some or all of the recent increases in ridership. A drop of some amount may occur or, due to ever-increasing fuel prices, the increase in ridership could continue.

The writer is mistaken in his analysis of Metro Transit's costs and revenues to predict a drop in ridership. His assumption "basic economics" as he calls it, is that the fuel costs for operating a bus is the same whether the bus is empty or full. That is probably true, although it is more basic physics than economics.

He goes on to say that the recent increased ridership "lowers the cost per mile by increasing the fares each bus takes in." He is incorrect here, and because of it, this is where his conclusion that a rate increase is not necessary is also likely incorrect. The increased ridership does increase revenues (fares collected), but it has little if any effect on costs ---as the writer himself declares in his opening statement about fuel costs. The costs (fuel, wages for the driver, maintenance people, parts, depreciation, etc.) all stay pretty much the same.

The writer could speculate that the increase in number of fares collected should be enough to offset the rising fuel costs over the past few years, but since Metro Transit has been heavily subsidized even during periods of low fuel costs, it is highly unlikely that a 10 to 20 percent increase in the number of fares collected would offset the entire increase in the cost of fuel, or that the public would be willing to further subsidize Metro Transit from increased tax revenues. Besides, a 25 cent or even 50 cent increase is probably still less than the increase in fuel costs to operate a car.

I trust that the Met Council will properly analyze the Metro Transit's operating position and propose reasonable fares. Besides, if the public government wants to really make public transportation cheap and accessible, all we have to do is agree to stop subsidizing the privately owned automobile -- no new roads, few improvements, minimum maintenance, reduced costs for enforcement, other public safety, emergency medical care, street cleaning and plowing, etc. We'll get there whether we want to or not, and then you'll see some "basic economic" forces at work.