On a sunny Saturday in Berlin, Germany, I came upon a beautiful modern museum with the eye-catching name “Topography of Terror.” It was recommended by our guide as very worthwhile, extremely popular and free. I was in.
As I walked along, I discovered that the museum offered a detailed chronology of how the Third Reich came to power. How could a people be duped into informing on their neighbors, burning books and looking the other way as synagogues were defaced? The whole man’s-inhumanity-to-man conundrum?
In looking at the exhibits, I saw a 1933 quote by Sebastian Haffner, a German journalist who fled Nazi Germany with his Jewish wife in 1939: “What can democracy do if the majority of people no longer want it?” It seemed a bit of an oxymoron to me, so I stepped backward and started really looking at the displays.
Was it the humiliation of losing World War I, poverty, the worldwide depression, anger at their leaders? I surmised all of those things but maybe more — the anger of people who had lost their self-worth, ego, pride. They didn’t want democracy. They wanted someone to fix it and, hurrah, they found someone who said he could, over and over again.
I was just a tourist from the Midwest in Berlin on a sunny afternoon in May and not in the business of making sweeping generalizations or accusations, but that quote did give me pause.
Barbra Boyken, St. Croix Falls, Wis.
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Judith Healey (“What the U can do about Donald Trump,” May 17) somehow relates Trump’s popularity with lack of funding for college humanities study. She also said extra humanities funding would save democracy in Minnesota. I would suggest to Ms. Healey that what might save democracy in Minnesota is hiring more than 5 percent conservative professors at the Department of English she advises at the University of Minnesota.
David Spilseth, Wayzata
• • •
I won’t vote for Trump, and I think he will make a lousy president. However, I understand why he is so popular with many citizens. We need only look at our Minnesota politicians to gain some insight. A large majority of us agree with Sunday liquor sales. A large majority of us agree with a 5- or 10-cent return fee on beverage containers. Nevertheless, when bills are introduced to allow liquor sales or a return fee, they get shot down year after year. Our legislators are doing the bidding of a small, but powerful, group of lobbyists. Mr. Trump is not beholden to money politics.
Andy Westerhaus, Burnsville
XCEL ENERGY RATES
If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em — buy the stock, collect dividends
A May 18 letter writer (“Xcel Energy: What’s cooking in this kitchen?”) is upset with recent rate increases and profitability and criticizes Xcel’s alleged inadequate services and lack of embracing new clean technologies. Some may remember the old days of the NSP slogan of “penny cheap” electric rates. I suggest that the letter writer purchase stock in this solid-quality company, which has increased in value and pays a generous consistent dividend — currently 3.2 percent. This is a hedge against the drain of any future rate increases, expected to add an average $11 per month over future years. The letter writer also could buy oil and gas stocks, currently at bargain prices, to hedge against their future increases.
Fortunately, there is an energy assistance program to assist anyone absolutely unable to budget for their electricity needs. I have found Xcel Energy services to be second to none, and the company has demonstrated its generosity and teamwork in sending trucks to help after other states’ storm disasters. It has invested heavily in needed infrastructure upgrades, especially nuclear and service lines. Xcel is a growing player in wind and solar, exceeding timetables to meet state energy goals. My household signed up for alternative solar energy, which Xcel facilitates, connecting to its network.
While nobody appreciates rate increases, especially beyond inflation, we need to support our utilities and the work of our state leaders to scrutinize their need and minimize their impact.
Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis
As if we needed another example supporting free enterprise …
Regarding “My petition for a shorter airport security line” (May 19) and the author’s observation that “I have gone through airport security in more than 60 countries, and can say that the TSA uses the least amount of common sense.”
“Common sense” dictates acknowledgment that unionized federal government employees are immune to free enterprise competition and, thus, “bottom line” accountability.
Per the Transportation Security Administration website:
• TSA employees have been represented by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) since 2003. Since then, nearly 16,000 hardworking men and women from airports across the country have joined our union.
• TSA workers joined together with AFGE to fight back against poor working conditions, low pay, mandatory overtime, arbitrary management practices and the highest injury rate in the federal government.
At the risk of being labeled “Captain Obvious,” if America’s airport security was competitively provided by the free-enterprise system, “common sense” would prevail and taxpayer consumers would likely be optimally served.
Gene Delaune, New Brighton
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The TSA delays at many airports and the anemic response to staffing shortages need action from those of us who fly out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Now that it is taking six hours to reach a destination one hour of flight time away — 30 minutes to get to the airport, three hours to get through the security procedures, 30 minutes to be at the gate sufficiently in advance of departure, one hour in the air, 30 minutes to get a rental car at the destination and 30 minutes’ drive from the destination airport to the final destination — the following trips should be made by using one’s own vehicle, a bus or a train: Fargo, Grand Forks, Duluth, Marquette, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Des Moines and Sioux Falls. This will certainly cut into airline and rental-car revenue, but it will be more economical per mile traveled for the user. Alternatively, contracting the TSA activity to the airlines proportionate to the number of gates assigned would get the check-in process back to normal.
Institutions, public and private, should require their employees to drive to these destinations and reimburse them for the mileage.
Arthur E. Higinbotham, St. Paul
THE 2016 ELECTION
The key thing about Clinton …
I am so tired of hearing how people think Hillary Clinton is qualified but that there is “just something about her” they don’t like. She isn’t running to be your BFF. She’s running for president of the United States. You don’t have to “like” her, but keep in mind that women died not so long ago to win women the right to vote. So please. Vote for someone. #i’mwithher
Bonnie West, St. Paul