The budget currently proposed for the National Institute of Standards and Technology eliminates funding for radio stations WWV, WWVH and WWVB. These stations provide important services at tiny cost, and they should be preserved.
WWV first broadcast in 1920. Its modern incarnations broadcast time and other information on exact frequencies from Fort Collins, Colo., and Kauai, Hawaii. In addition to the exact time, these stations provide marine storm warnings, propagation information and solar activity updates. The service is used by the communications and broadcast industries, the military, radio amateurs, shortwave listeners, researchers, education, transportation and others.
The low-frequency signal of WWVB is used by at least 50 million clocks in this country — commonly called “atomic” clocks — that maintain the exact time in response to its broadcasts.
Terminating these services would abandon a position of technological leadership and standard-setting that our country has maintained for almost 100 years. We can be certain that both Russia and China will leap quickly into the gap that the closure of WWV, WWVH and WWVB would open, claiming that leadership for themselves.
Finally, the money required to maintain these stations is trivial: about $6 million per year. This is a minimal price to pay for WWV’s services and for ongoing broadcasts of America’s technological leadership.
Contact our senators and representatives in Congress to urge that WWV and its sister stations be funded and continue to operate.
Bryant Julstrom, St. Cloud
GREEN NEW DEAL
It’s not just what it would cost, but what costs we wouldn’t incur
Anyone reading Noah Smith’s Feb. 12 commentary “A guess at how much the Green New Deal would cost” would likely think we can’t afford it. After all, he made sure to highlight the costs. Why didn’t he mention the costs of continuing to use fossil fuels?
Energy-related air pollution costs us $131 billion annually, and the number of Americans affected by fracking-polluted groundwater continues to rise. There are savings of more than money to be had. How much could we save by neither importing oil nor getting involved in the military conflicts of oil-rich nations? Wouldn’t it be better to invest that into our economy in the form of green jobs?
Then there are the trillions of dollars we’ll be missing out on by letting China and others lead in the research and manufacturing of renewable-energy equipment because we seem intent on forfeiting the development of the technology that will be the cornerstone of the future.
Medicare for All would cost $3.2 trillion a year? Great! That’s less than the $3.5 trillion we currently spend.
I can’t help thinking Smith’s oversights were intentional. Regardless, I’m sorry the Star Tribune chose to publish such a misleading article. The question isn’t if we can afford to embrace the Green New Deal. The question is how can we afford not to embrace it?
Patti Duffield, Bloomington
Expand background checks in Minnesota; investigation shows why
Anyone who keeps up with Minnesota politics knows that there are two bills up for consideration in the Legislature meant to shore up our background check law, HF 8 and SF 434. Currently, our law is the same as federal law: If you are a licensed firearms dealer, you must run a background check, but individual sellers are not required to do so. The new bills up for consideration require all gun sales to have a background check. Why do we need this? Everytown for Gun Safety recently published an investigation of Armslist.com, an online firearms marketplace, that demonstrates exactly why. In that yearlong investigation, nearly 1.2 million ads were found to have no legal requirement for a background check. More than 28,000 of those ads were in Minnesota!
Not scary enough for you yet? Don’t worry, it gets much worse. In one part of the investigation, ads with no mention of a background check were placed by the investigators themselves in Florida, Georgia, Ohio and Tennessee. As a result, 1 in 9 of the potential buyers responding was found to be legally prohibited from buying or possessing a gun. Those people would not have passed a background check at a licensed dealer. These are the kinds of buyers this new law would stop.
Not concerned, because this is Minnesota, not Florida or Tennessee? Keep in mind that our background check law is currently the same as in those states, federal law only. We need sensible gun laws in Minnesota. Please contact your legislators and urge them to pass a law requiring background checks on all gun sales.
Jo Haugen, Eagan
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The current president of this country headed out Friday for a weekend at his golf club. Loves to light up his political dumpster fires on his way out of town. Meanwhile, emergency medical personnel, SWAT teams and our police force were facing another shooting of officers and civilians in Illinois. Our emergency systems work hard every day on the true national crisis of guns and mental health in the U.S. Wake up, America, and vote for leadership on this issue.
Suzanne Davies, Lutsen, Minn.
Leading cause of disability deserves federal investment
As a rheumatologist, I’m on the front lines fighting America’s leading cause of disability: arthritis. Sadly, close to one in three U.S. veterans have it, and only battle wounds cause more medical discharges from the U.S. Army. When an active service member is dismissed due to arthritis, the cost of their medical care falls on the Department of Defense (DOD) for the rest of their life.
The DOD’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) is designed to fund research for the benefit of service members, yet there is no dedicated budget in the CDMRP for arthritis research — despite its high prevalence in service members. The cost to the DOD for an individual’s care can amount to nearly $1 million, and as the number of veterans with arthritis rises, so will the total cost of their care.
Policymakers can slow the growth of arthritis care expenditures by establishing an arthritis research program at the DOD to accelerate arthritis prevention strategies and treatment breakthroughs for the many servicemen and -women whose bodies ultimately suffer from their selfless service. Congress can establish this program by simply dedicating funds that already exist within the CDMRP specifically to arthritis.
Setting up this program is a modest ask with a huge return both for those who serve and for the American public.
Paul Sufka, St. Paul
Why worried? Oh, no reason …
My cousin, who lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, has asked me if our president also intends to erect a wall along the border between Canada and U.S. Evidently, the Canadians are worried about this.
Margery Stratte Swanson, Pine City, Minn.