Why should we be forced to backslide?

The June 27 editorial ("We'll all need to pay to solve debt issues") was a disappointment. By echoing calls for Americans to accept austerity, the editorial repeated the misconception that money is scarce. And that is not the case.

Why is it, having lived through a technological revolution that flooded the world with computers, the Internet, robotics and other productivity tools, our generation is being asked to lower its standard of living? Instead, let's find the wealth this technology produced and get it into circulation.

Or, instead of assuming that rich people should enjoy low-tax rates because they create jobs, let's distinguish the ones who do create jobs from those who don't.

Hedge fund managers John Paulson and Ray Dalio, for example, raked in $4.9 billion and $3.1 billion, respectively, in 2010. Did these speculators contribute a value to the economy in any other way proportionate to the vast wealth they extracted from it? A 1 percent sales tax on Wall Street's financial transactions could redirect at least some of this wealth.

The editorial pointed to rising health care and Social Security costs as contributing to the budget shortfall, but rather than cut benefits to the ill and the elderly, why not cut waste at the Pentagon?

The day before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, then-defense-secretary Donald Rumsfeld held a news conference at which he admitted that $2.3 trillion (that's right, with a "t") was missing from the Pentagon's books. Congress and the president should tell the joint chiefs of staff to go find the missing money.

Or, consider that the recently completed, and only partial, audit of the Federal Reserve revealed that the Fed originated $16 trillion in low-interest emergency loans to U.S. and foreign banks and other corporations over the past three years.

That amount exceeds the annual GDP of the United States. It means there's an awful lot of freshly minted cash sloshing around in the global economy, or at least in the vaults of the banks.

Given that there's no shortage of money, the Star Tribune's editorial writers should stop arguing for an austerity that disproportionately would burden the middle class and argue instead for a prosperity shared by all.


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Call me confused. Why is it that a Democrat bill with a couple Republican votes is considered bipartisan, while a Republican bill with five Democrat votes is called partisan? Why is it that mention of increases in one's mortgage interest rate never comes with a variable-interest caveat?

Why is it that it's seldom made clear that spending cuts are generally over a 10-year period, while additional spending is available immediately?

Why is it that House Speaker John Boehner's two-step plan is made to sound unpassable because Congress would have to take this up again in 2012, with the implication that it's bad policy to make Congress vote again in an election year?

That's exactly what should happen. Politicians need to be held accountable for their votes!


• • •

The United States is going to default on its debt on Aug. 2, and I don't care anymore.

I don't have any credit cards; I canceled my one card after the company doubled the interest rate even though I had never had a late payment. My underwater home is a goner anyway, and I don't have any investments that will be affected by a Wall Street crash.

As with most middle-class Americans, my "portfolio" is tied up in mere survival. I watch the silly, petulant, bizarro fight in Congress with a growing sense of disgust.

So, members of Congress, continue your meaningless, ideologically driven arguments until the cows come home. I will simply continue my struggle to survive in a place I no longer recognize as the country of my birth, governed by people who stopped representing me a long, long time ago.


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Eagles and turbines

Environmental goals at odds near Red Wing

This past spring, the Raptor Resource Group in Decorah, Iowa, placed a camera near an eagle's nest. I was able to see the male and female tend to their nest and watch as the eggs hatched and as the eaglets grew up and eventually flew. It was a thrilling experience.

When I was a child growing up in the 1960s and '70s, it was a rare and exciting event to spot an eagle, because their numbers were so low (due to DDT and reproductive failure).

So I was very disappointed to read that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission had voted to move a wind project forward in Red Wing despite warnings from federal wildlife officials that the blades could kill the eagles ("Bald eagles could thwart a wind farm," July 24).

The Mississippi River between Red Wing and Wabasha is the nesting grounds and winter home for bald and golden eagles. The National Eagle Center in Wabasha counted more than 400 eagles living there last December.

Some of these eagles travel from as far away as Alaska, covering many miles per day. Can we assume that they will simply fly around the wind farm?

According to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, "only about 50% of first-year birds live. Studies have shown that only one in ten eagles make it to five years of age.

They face electrocution from high voltage wires, pesticides, lead poisoning from bullets ingested from dead prey, fishing lines and rodent poisons." Will we have to add turbine blades to this list?

I hope the PUC will rethink its decision. Wind power has its place, but Red Wing has too many eagles to lose.


• • •

I find it delicious that liberal envioronmentalists are fighting over these two extremes, "green energy" and "protecting wildlife." How will they reconcile this chasm? I love it when this group of people find themselves in this predicament.

Just build a coal plant, and the birds will not hit the lighted smokestacks -- problem solved.