Lovely idea to have a major artwork on the renovated mall ("Nicollet Mall seeks signature work of art," Jan. 7). Wouldn't it be even lovelier with the absence of buses and taxis? We have the opportunity to make the new mall a true park experience with grass, flower gardens, open plazas, performance spaces, and open-air eating without the stink and noise of buses and cars. Further, consider one of these vehicles going out of control, wiping out a bunch of the pedestrians this new sculpture will attract. I say put that lovely new sculpture in an appropriate setting with no wheeled vehicles.

Harald Eriksen, Brooklyn Park

Massacre in France can't pass quietly

What can France do to preserve freedom of religion and freedom of expression in light of the brutal killings in Paris?

Should the French become more politically correct by self-editing themselves as is done for the "n" word in the United States?

Should they not give in to a minority of radical jihadists and treat criticisms or satire of Jesus and Mohammed the same?

What will America be like in 30 or 50 years if anti-free-speech fatwas and jihadists continue to spread throughout the West without more forceful condemnation of this strategy from the more moderate majority?

Jim Stattmiller, Minneapolis

• • •

Quick and simple: The imams seem too quiet. When can we expect the imams of Islam around the world to begin to publicly and noticeably speak out on, and denounce, the atrocities exacted on humankind by terrorists acting ostensibly in the name of Allah — and speaking out in a way just might make a difference?

Dennis Dillon, Minneapolis

• • •

In light of the terror attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, I call on the Star Tribune and every publication that values freedom of expression to include a cartoon depiction of Mohammed in every publication for at least the next year. It is time to stamp out intolerance. If you fail to publish cartoon depictions of the Mohammed, we will know your true commitment to free expression is paper-thin.

Mark Fischer, Oakdale

Two impressions of Summers' idea

Lawrence Summers' Jan. 6 commentary "Oil's swoon creates opening for carbon tax" had a tangled but entertaining way about it.

Summers states it is the "logic of the market," since we don't pay for the ancillary effects of using carbon-based fuel, we overuse them. (I wonder how he feels about health care, which now looks free to many). Thus, more carbon taxes are needed in order to prevent overuse and, besides, even the middle- and low-income consumers would be no worse off with such a tax than they were before the price of carbon fell. How wonderful is that?

While arguing that his vision is not one of "government planning," Summers speculates how nice it would be to have the projected "trillion" dollars of revenue such a tax would provide over a 10-year period. He envisions that this money could be put to good use in pro-work tax credits and similar government largesse. How super.

Such theories are the musings of an awakened progressive former Harvard president — a man who, along the way, made millions heading a hedge fund, supported the repeal of key provisions of Glass-Steagall and once argued against the Kyoto protocol.

As suggested, it is a tangled and amusing piece by, as it turns out, an equally tangled and amusing man.

Paul Bearmon, Edina

• • •

I support the proposal for a tax on fossil fuels because it would reduce CO2 emissions that harm our natural world. But what would the people of Minnesota gain?

First, a carbon fee would hasten the closure of coal plants in the Midwest region, reducing pollutants such as mercury, soot and arsenic that contribute to asthma and health disease.

Second, it would promote good jobs by driving business innovation. The authors of a Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development study wrote: "The concentration of green vacancies in the manufacturing sector — where Minnesota already has a competitive advantage in terms of employment concentration, firm concentration, and locally available workforce — suggests that the greening of the economy could contribute to strengthening the state's manufacturing base." A border tariff on imported goods from countries without a carbon tax would protect our local industries.

Third, making the carbon fee "tax neutral" and returning all revenue to U.S. households would shield Minnesota residents from rising prices for fuel and manufactured goods as we transition to a renewable-energy economy.

A revenue-neutral carbon tax: good for the environment, and good for Minnesota residents.

Claudia Egelhoff, Minneapolis

It works, one might say, despite the GOP

A Jan. 5 letter writer suggested that Republican policies are better for business and therefore the economy than are Democratic ones, but that Democrats get rave reviews for the slightest improvement on the economic front and that Republicans are ignored. The actual facts, beginning with Herbert Hoover's presidency, are these:

• Personal income has grown six times more under Democratic presidents.

• GDP has grown seven times more under Democrats.

• Corporate profits have grown 16 percent more per year under Democratic administrations (and the most under President Obama) and declined under Republicans by an average 4.5 percent a year.

• Average annual compound return on the stock market has been 18 times greater under Democratic presidents.

• Republican presidents added 2.5 times more to the national debt than did Democrats.

• The Great Depression and Great Recession occurred during Republican administrations pursuing austerity programs.

• Obama has outpaced President Ronald Reagan on several economic metrics: the unemployment rate, the national deficit and government cost-cutting.

Obviously, Democrats actually have something to crow about. That's not to say that Democratic presidents are better in every way than Republican ones, but the facts above should give one pause about believing that the unfettered capitalism advocated by Republicans will be our country's salvation. So far, small government and limited regulation of business and financial austerity have, by any reasonable measure, bombed.

Kathryne Sanders, Maplewood