As a resident of the Iron Range, I applaud the Biden administration's decision to complete the environmental study of the impact of sulfide mining on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, previously terminated by the Trump administration. Everyone in this region would love to see more good-paying jobs, but the reality is that these projects will produce only a few, are mostly foreign owned and will almost certainly destroy more jobs and businesses in the process. This type of mining has never been done safely in a water rich environment, but this study will show whether it can or cannot be done safely in this location.
The BWCA is a national treasure. It is incumbent upon all of us to make a small sacrifice for the good of the many and the future of our children to be able to see and enjoy what we have seen and enjoy: the vanishing wilderness. Selfishly demanding a few jobs for a fraction of the population at the expense of everyone else is not the Iron Range way of life.
Kelly Dahl, Linden Grove Township, Minn.
At least acknowledge the nuance
Richard Greelis ("Could a low-level stop have prevented St. Paul's gunplay?" Opinion Exchange, Oct. 13) seems to take umbrage at the term "low-level traffic violations" and implies that they are colorblind stops. Hogwash! I suggest he read Michelle Alexander's book "The New Jim Crow." The statistics are appalling. Even though there are fewer Black drivers, they are much more likely to be stopped and searched, and these drivers are much less likely to have any sort of contraband. I agree that not all law enforcement officers are racist, but to what extent racism does exist needs to be forthrightly examined.
Mr. Greelis suggests in a rather defensive tone that if these low-level traffic stops were in effect, the shootings at the Seventh Street Truck Park could have been prevented. Maybe, maybe not. We will never know, just as we don't know if their cars would have ever been stopped in any event.
There are other things that might have been done to prevent the shootings such as: (yes) better gun control, better social services for suspects and their families, more police officers walking the streets and more parole officers. All these things and more need to work hand in hand.
There is no one simple answer but just scapegoating an opposing view on the traffic stops is not helpful. Coming together in an open and less defensive posture is at least a start.
Del Grote, Maplewood
Marina Gorzig ("Persistent bias shows police can't reform themselves," Opinion Exchange, Oct. 20) says that higher rates of stops and searches of Native American women shows bias on the part of police. She then admits that Native American women have higher rates of homelessness, drug addiction and prostitution, which result in higher levels of interaction with the police. But she nevertheless faults the police for not reforming themselves to reduce the disparities.
The problem here is obviously homelessness, drug addiction and prostitution among Native American women. No amount of police reform will change that. Blaming the police for the fact that some groups have more social problems than others doesn't make any sense at all.
James Brandt, New Brighton
Doctors, like anyone, can't fix it all
There seem to be professions that are asked to solve all community ills as a moral extension of their job description. Three examples for me have always been police, teachers and general practitioners. The recent commentary from Dr. Edward P. Ehlinger ("Defund the health care system," Opinion Exchange, Oct. 20) is an example of a well-intentioned concern about community health, that physicians have failed miserably to improve health despite exorbitant financial reward. The tenor of the article implies that the community is able and willing to follow a path to healing and health for the good of all if only the right leadership would emerge. Further, the best way to encourage this would be to defund, oversee and replace the current workers. Since I only have direct knowledge of the obstacles to community healing from the perspective of 40 years of medical practice, I will address Ehlinger's points as a doctor.
The cost of medical care in the U.S., when tallied, must include the profits enjoyed by health insurers, Big Pharma and medical device companies. Insurers are the payers to the extent that they elect. MDs can charge any amount they wish but will receive what the insurer will pay. It could be argued that general practitioners have been defunded since the late 1980s.
The American Medical Association? Of the approximately 1 million practicing MDs in the U.S. (not interns and residents) only a fraction belong to the AMA. The average MD feels powerless to create change outside the clinic.
Preventive care is another reused mantra. Why don't doctors do a better job telling us what to do? Some ask why doctors don't stop crime, poverty, housing shortages, internet misinformation and racism instead of purveying "expert opinion and science over community needs and experiences."
I know what Ehlinger wants. I want it too. But if one looks at the community we have now and inserts COVID, it is obvious that prevention, care for others without being told, civility and trust is out of reach for any one profession. Defunding clinics and MDs by high-profit insurers has not improved the situation. Non-MD practitioners are more abundant and influential than ever before. Outreach into the community and resources to community-level health and information based on social, nutritional and medical science is the ideal. Let's find the money to pay for that and then hope the community is ready to respond unselfishly.
It is obvious to me that teachers, cops and GPs can't be "defunded" enough to counter the disunity being displayed in what we might wish was a community.
Jerrol Noller, Anoka
Good old-fashioned consequences
We learned this week of the sad tally of traffic fatalities on Minnesota roads ("The boss says slow it down in traffic," Oct 20). We are already trying to deal with the public safety issues of COVID, gun violence and opioids — as if those aren't daunting enough. So, now we're trying to recruit employers to become cheerleaders for responsible driving. Hmm. Sounds a lot like a version of "personal responsibility." That's what I heard from politicians in states that just couldn't imagine anything as draconian as mandating public health guidelines prescribed by the experts coping with the COVID pandemic: "Our good citizens of [pick your state] don't need government 'overreach.' We'll practice 'personal responsibility.'"
Well, we've seen that millions of Americans have a hard time grasping that concept when it comes to the pandemic. Will Minnesotans follow the appeal of employers? I hope so, but I'm skeptical. There is one thing that we older folks have experienced that does work in reducing speeding: a quaint custom known as "speed traps." A cop car clocks speeds at one end of the road and a couple of cop cars at the other end apprehend the violators. And voilà! Personal responsibility is practiced by all! Of course, that traffic management device requires an adequately staffed and funded law enforcement agency. But that's a whole other letter to the editor.
Richard Masur, Minneapolis
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