Housing First Minnesota claims you can’t build a new single-family home here for less than $375,000, due in large part to fees (front page, Feb. 5). I can’t deny that fees have an impact, but it certainly isn’t the only thing influencing price. I live in a 1925 bungalow. It has an unfinished cinder block basement; the half second story was totally unfinished when we bought it; it’s got one bathroom; it had a small one-car garage, and the main floor is just under 900 square feet. New houses today, according to the Census Bureau, are more than 2,400 square feet. The vast majority have finished walkout basements, multiple bathrooms, and three-car garages — and fewer people living in them! I understand that profits are maximized with larger houses, but to say a house can’t be built for less than that price is simply not accurate. We could very much use smaller new houses in this part of the world.

Lynn Lucking, St. Paul

VIRGINIA’S GOVERNOR CONTROVERSY

A lust to remove him neglects his full record and human fallibility

It’s been quite a spectacle to see the pack of politicians piling on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to quit after an embarrassing photo from his 35-year-old yearbook was publicized. Is depriving a man of his job and reputation a just punishment for possible racist thoughts three decades ago? This appears to be nothing less than extrajudicial impeachment/conviction/punishment all in one. Was this an impeachable offense? Let a person be judged according to his or her demonstrated record and character. If the wolves lust for impeachment blood, they might consider others close by Richmond in Washington, D.C., who better qualify.

John C. Green, Duluth

• • •

I don’t know Gov. Northam. I have no idea if he’s a “good guy” or not. In fact, the only thing I do know about him is that he is human, and that being human, he is not perfect.

Another thing I know is that part of our “humanness” is that we have the ability to learn and to change. In fact, that’s really what life is all about.

So my question is: Why are we denying our humanness? Why are we ignoring years of good works because of some infraction that was a part of the times, 35 years ago.

People make mistakes. That’s the reality. The good ones learn and grow. Get over it and get on with life.

Ed Janes, Eden Prairie

• • •

I sure hope none of the folks demanding Northam’s resignation are Washington Redskins fans.

Mark Gortze, Maple Grove

ABORTION

The messages being sent about Virginia from Minnesota

The Feb. 1 article “GOP legislators jump into abortion fray” neglected to say what prolifers in Minnesota objected to in the Virginia bill.

One of the bill’s sponsors said it allowed an abortion at nine months into the pregnancy, even if the mother was in labor and dilating.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said that after the baby is delivered and removed from the mother’s body in a third-trimester abortion, the physician would resuscitate the baby, if needed, make it comfortable and then discuss with the mother whether the baby should live or die. If the baby is outside the mother’s body, this scenario is infanticide, not abortion.

Rosalind Kohls, St. Cloud

• • •

Draw your own conclusion. GOP legislators gathered for a photo op on Thursday to show their opposition to any loosening of abortion laws in Minnesota. Interestingly, only seven of the 38 legislators were women, and of course they put the seven women up front. I, for one, am tired of white men deciding my fate about this and other issues.

Nancy Anderson, Plymouth

ENERGY SYSTEM SUFFICIENCY

Why nuclear isn’t a favorable alternative to renewables

I would like to thank the three writers of a Feb. 5 counterpoint (“Don’t confuse, or reject, the role of renewables”) who explained the actual role of natural gas and renewable energies to, as they said, “keep our citizens warm and safe, and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.” This commentary also debunked a viewpoint written by Isaac Orr, a fellow for the Center for the American Experiment (CAE), who rejected and misleadingly characterized renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, as not being reliable during a severe cold snap (Opinion Exchange, Feb. 1). The counterpoint clearly showed that this is not the case.

However, one important point that wasn’t addressed in this counterpoint was the fallacy of Mr. Orr’s strong argument for nuclear energy. Not only was his position on that subject very ironic, since the CAE is a vigorous advocate for market solutions and less government, but also, in reality, the startup costs and long-term costs per kilowatt hour are considerably more expensive than are renewables. And, it turns out, nuclear energy relies on about 10 times more government subsidies than sustainable energy sources. Plus, a permanent and safe repository for spent nuclear waste has not been found, despite many decades of exhaustive searching, at government’s oversight and expense, of course.

So, the sensible bottom line here should be: Go renewables. And everybody stands to win!

John Clark, Minneapolis

HEALTH INSURANCE

Complicated in ways that ‘Medicare for all’ backers must consider

We have a most complex combination of payments that fund our health care delivery. Medicare pays very deeply discounted amounts for many treatments and services. Most facilities write off a huge portion after Medicare payments, as well as Medicaid. It is the private insurance companies that, even with contractual discounts, pay the lion’s share of fees to hospitals and clinics. How would our clinics and hospitals balance their budgets with, let’s say, triple or quadruple the number of Medicare payments instead of private pay? Hugely reduced physician and specialist salaries? Major reductions in specialty lab and diagnostic equipment? It is a very, very large beast we have created with our current system. We we can and must do better in providing decent health care that every American can afford and access, but the “Medicare for all” rally cry does not seem realistic.

Suzanne Davies, Lutsen, Minn.

• • •

Two unrelated topics:

(1) I hope the advocates of Medicare for all realize that there are Medicare premiums which you pay after you start Medicare. My Part B, Part D and Medigap premiums are almost $4,000 a year.

(2) Why is the city of Minneapolis trying to restrict auto traffic with bike lanes and enhancements to mass transit while the state is building better access to the city for cars with the Interstate 35W project and the Federal Reserve is proposing an 800-car parking ramp (Business, Jan. 30)?

Bill Bertram, Minneapolis

CONSUMER HABITS

Too much toothpaste, too much soap, too much, too much, too much

Regarding “Kids overdo toothpaste, CDC says” (Feb. 4): Young children are using more toothpaste than recommended by dental professionals. The side of a box containing toothpaste says that if a young child swallows the product, the poison control center should be called immediately.

We use too much of many products, e.g., shampoo, dish soap, laundry detergent. Everything has to go somewhere; these products end up in the waterways affecting aquatic plants and all water inhabitants. Use less stuff, including water. This is the only planet we get.

Sharon Fortunak, St. Paul