One the front page of the March 29 issue of the Star Tribune was a photo of a woman delivering food to her mom at a care facility. The caption read, in part: “Restrictions are keeping families apart.”

No — restrictions are helping to save lives.

It depends on where you shine the light where the shadow falls.

Karen Schott, Excelsior

• • •

I loved the introduction John Lennes used in his March 29 commentary on the response to the coronavirus pandemic. (“When can the pieces come back together?”) He quotes Albert Einstein’s reference to problem-solving, focusing on the act of thinking about the problem for a long time before thinking about solutions. Then he states that we should try Einstein’s approach.

A nice prologue, but then Lennes hastily falls back on the argument of comparing this coronavirus to the flu and assuming that analogy will work for a solution algorithm. Of course, he does not consider that the death rate of this virus appears to be about 10 times the virulence of the flu and he ignores the issue of what would happen if everyone had the flu over the same period of time, not spread throughout the year.

Before we spend more time analyzing Lennes’ solution, we will have to spend much more time considering the problem. A good start, though. And I hope that Lennes is correct in the end — that this will not have a greater effect on the globe than the annual flu attacks. Until then, I am content to stay grounded as we all think further about this problem. The solutions will start to reveal themselves.

Alan Briesemeister, Delano

• • •

Thank you, John Lennes, for stating exactly how I am feeling. Finally, somebody who is not fomenting fear and confusion about something that could have been handled in a way that didn’t create this chaos among us. I have always understood the common flu could have people incited into this frenzy if it were front-page news and the lead story on every broadcast day-in and day-out. Certainly more than 30,000 lives lost to influenza each year could be treated like the present threat of COVID-19, but we all realize this is just a part of life and death. Please, let’s put some of the common-sense ideas proposed in Mr. Lennes’ piece to practical use, and the sooner the better for all of us.

Cheri Schwartz, Stillwater

• • •

I have a quick response to the Lennes article. He suggests the COVID-19 response could allow something approaching “business as usual” with common-sense safeguards. I really wish that could happen, but I believe the common sense of many has been long gone. As we have quickly learned, it only takes one or two to pass on the virus to many.

Lori Schlomann, Fairmont, Minn.

• • •

I was enjoying the Lennes commentary. He had solid statistics, and he seemed to be accurately reflecting the science on the coronavirus. Because the U.S. hasn’t had a pandemic in 100 years, I think all options should be up for discussion. But then, it was as if Mr. Lennes would explode if he couldn’t unleash some political arrows. It took me 24 hours to figure out that his comment about a New York bartender was an insider reference to U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And he dismissed the massive floating plastic garbage dump in the Pacific and the climate crisis with derisive remarks about straws and cow flatulence. He left me doubting everything in his previous 32 paragraphs. Brilliant.

Chuck Laszewski, Falcon Heights


During this crisis, an abatement is in order for amounts due May 15

With the coronavirus, there is no possibility of elimination or reduction in taxes on Social Security in this Minnesota legislative session.

An alternative savings for taxpayers, and in particular senior citizens, would be a three-month abatement of property taxes due May 15. Those who escrow in their mortgage each month would see the amount due reduced by the property tax due. In the case of those who are not required to escrow property taxes but must pay by May 15, simply place those taxes in abatement.

We all know recently laid-off workers are having difficulty paying their mortgages on time. Property tax abatement would be highly effective.

James V. Farrell, Bloomington


What we really need to understand about the U.S. and federal deficits

A March 29 letter writer — “The wolf is always at the door, and we’re (necessarily) feeding it more” — calls himself “a longtime Keynesian” and is OK with federal deficits in hard times, but is concerned about the bills coming due: “At some point the world will quit lending to us. … If we’re going to spend X, at some point we need to tax X.”

As John Maynard Keynes well knew, for governments that control their own currencies, spending does not come from taxation. Technically, when taxes are paid, that money is extinguished; it ceases to exist and no longer circulates in the economy.

And, we don’t depend on “the world” lending it to us. The world is simply looking for a safe, interest-bearing place to park the U.S. dollars in its pockets.

Since last September, long before the coronavirus was on anyone’s radar, the Fed, without blinking, has created trillions of dollars to lend into nervous repo markets because commercial banks were afraid to lend to one another. Fed bankers weren’t relying on available tax revenue or borrowing from foreigners.

If there’s anything to be learned from this disaster (other than that Congress is owned by the 1% and will use every opportunity to cravenly skim more cash for its owners), it is where our money comes from.

William Beyer, St. Louis Park

• • •

As we start to learn about how to endure the COVID-19 pandemic, we also have people arguing about how to get our economy back to normal. However, do we really want to get back to normal? A normal where so many people don’t have enough to pay a couple of months’ rent? A normal that sees private companies, their shareholders and CEOs enjoy record profits, but are managed by such greed that they need massive taxpayer-funded bailouts after a couple of months of an unexpected downturn in the economy?

As much as the virus has taken away, it also may have given us a chance to reflect on what kind of society we want to live in.

Avi Rosenman, Minneapolis

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