Reluctantly, I ripped open the notice from my insurance company, painfully aware that my annual house insurance premium was now due. After seeing the amount requested while uttering one of the seven words that you can’t say on television, I considered the inconceivable; maybe I should take a chance this year and not send a check to my insurance company.
I mean, consider the odds. According to available statistics, the chance that my house will be destroyed by a tornado in any one year is 1 in 13 million; the chance that my house will burn down during that same time is 1 in 20,000. Though not a betting man, I would be sorely tempted to place a sizable wager at our local casino with those kinds of odds. So why not gamble?
After a few tempestuous minutes, I wrote out a check for the full amount and sealed it into the envelope. Why? It’s simple, really; it’s all about cost vs. risk. While the cost of my premium is substantial, the risk is catastrophic. Despite the long odds, if my house did burn down, I would not be able to replace it and would be moving in with my kids (sorry, kids).
For those who question the projected environmental consequences of global warming, I ask you a simple question. Is the cost of trying to address the situation greater than the risk?
Maybe you are right and the odds that this environmental warming will have irreparable impacts on the planet are long. But what happens if you are wrong? Let’s pay our insurance premium, just in case.
Tom Baumann, Isanti, Minn.
• • •
The Dec. 15 commentary by Harrison Beck (“One word: Displacement”), questioning why no one dares mention the coming climate-related displacement of the multitudes resulting from climate disruption, raises a touchy issue. However, Beck still misses the far more sensitive and overriding fact that the population already has exceeded the carrying capacity of the Earth. It is not a coincidence that most of the strife, unrest and fighting in the world is in areas of excessive human density, limited resources and the resulting lack of education. Until we address ways to stabilize population, moving the displaced to less-populated countries will only spread and compound the problem. Technology gains will prolong the inevitable result, but technology is not advancing as fast as the population. World population has increased from 2.4 billion to 7.2 billion in my 71-year lifetime, which I find more frightening than a 2-degree increase in temperature.
Larry Johnson, Cologne, Minn.
• • •
The commentary about displacement makes an important and underappreciated point about a domino effect of climate change. However, the writer makes a significant mistake in logic by asserting that some categories of people don’t need to worry about environmental destruction. That doesn’t make much sense. A lack of resources is a lack of resources. Violence that may be rooted in a food shortage across the globe does and will afflict people, whether or not they’re “American, white and well-off.” Those of us who are worried about environmental disaster are already frustrated that some have made it a political issue. Making it a racial or place-of-birth issue does not help.
Celeste Riley, Mendota Heights
ST. PAUL’S TRUMP VOTE
Condemnation strikes the right note; more cities should do it
In response to the Dec. 17 article “Trump causes stir in St. Paul,” I’d like to praise members of the St. Paul City Council for taking positive action and a solid stand against Donald Trump’s vile, racist, bellicose hate-mongering. Although their action is strongly criticized by Chuck Samuelson of the ACLU, they never passed a resolution preventing Trump from visiting our wonderful, diverse city. They, like Trump, are exercising their right to free speech and are only expressing their abhorrence of the trash that comes out of Trump’s mouth. I’m sure if you were to poll the people of St. Paul, the majority would concur with the council’s action. I’ve lived on the East Side for more than 20 years in a very diverse neighborhood, and many of my neighbors, whose ethnicity brings life and culture to our area, are the same ones Trump persecutes.
If a corporation can throw endless amounts of cash to politicians as individuals, thanks to Citizens United, why can’t a city council come out and exercise its free speech? It’s time that more cities take a stand against the hate that is beginning to pervade our great nation.
John Kniprath, St. Paul
TRUMP’S POLICY PRONOUNCEMENTS
Frankly, his plan regarding Muslims sounds sensibly safe
Listen to yourselves.
A letter writer recently wrote: “What I understand even less than our politics is the willingness of Americans to buy into the politics of fear and hate.” and “ … we may find ourselves as victims of crypto-Nazis like Trump.” Talk about fear-mongering! What’s more scary than Nazis?
The letter writer is not the only one spreading fear and hate. A New York Times columnist recently ranted about Trump’s “Weimar America.”
Let’s examine what Trump has said: “Let’s keep Muslims out until we know what we are doing.” Hey, that sounds reasonable. Or would you rather we not know what we’re doing? And what is reasonable? President Obama, I hope, believes that what he is doing is reasonable by taking better than a year to admit Syrians. And Canada’s new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is doing what he thinks is reasonable by letting Syrians arrive ASAP. Is Obama spreading fear by making it tougher for the Syrians to enter?
Now let’s examine the letter writer’s rhetorical question: “Do you think we’ll be safer by blocking entry into our country for Muslims? The 9/11 attackers had legal visas. One of the attackers in San Bernardino, Calif. was born here.” Well, yes, I do think that if we had blocked Muslims before 9/11, they wouldn’t have had legal visas and therefore wouldn’t have been on the airplanes. And, yes, I do think if one-half of the San Bernardino killers hadn’t been allowed in the country, half the firepower would have resulted in fewer deaths. And, maybe, the one born here wouldn’t have had the stones to do it alone and no one would have been killed.
Mike Ebnet, Edina
• • •
While the Republican presidential candidates debated the merits of high-tech surveillance technology as a means of detecting potential terrorist activity, they missed the most obvious and time-tested method: the use of informants. Police departments have long successfully cultivated informants as a means of catching criminals and thwarting potential criminal activity. Donald Trump’s approach, attacking an entire religious group, is counterproductive and generates resentment, secrecy, and the very acts he is attempting to thwart. Our public protectors against crime and terrorism gain valuable information by using the opposite approach. Police departments can use Muslim cops as role models and symbols of empathy whom community members feel they can trust. We need Muslim undercover agents who can access the inner workings and mood swings within the community. We need Muslim informants, motivated by whatever good or less-than-good concerns cause them to share their information with the police. It’s that simple. And it works. As the saying goes: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
As for the nearly unanimous condemnation of President Obama’s Oval Office speech as a show of weakness for its sympathetic portrayal of Muslims, be reminded that Obama is systematically murdering the leadership of the ISIL cult while expressing his high opinion of their religion. I am reminded of this quote from a Lewis Carroll poem describing the crocodile:
“How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spread his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!”
Dan Cohen, Minneapolis