Yes, it is a quandary about how juicy an offer to make to Amazon for its new facility ("A 'restrained' Amazon bid," Sept. 13). Kudos to Gov. Mark Dayton for calling Target and Best Buy executives to affirm their importance (in contrast to the apparent failure of the Walker Art Center to think of asking Native American leaders about the abortive "Scaffold" project).
Minnesota's Target and Best Buy have to compete with Amazon wherever Amazon sets up shop. Does Minnesota's "restrained bid" suggest our leaders know the future of retailing? What if Amazon's business model is more successful than good old Target and Best Buy? Trends to date suggest that is a possibility. Wouldn't we rather dive into the future and have Amazon here with its jobs, just in case? Look what happened to automobile-building or coal-mining communities when their industries became obsolete — in the case of automobiles perhaps through complacence.
Of course, an Amazon headquarters offer must be very hardheaded and consider both the costs and broader implications on infrastructure, traffic, housing, etc. But could an emotional attachment to our own good old boys, one of which was founded by the Dayton family, be stifling?
John R. Priest, Minneapolis
OFFICER STRUCK, KILLED
Lawbreakers belong in prison; why is our society so lenient?
As the father, father-in-law and grandfather of police officers, I feel compelled to add to the insightful submission of a Sept. 12 letter writer ("With today's data, why aren't we safe from unlicensed drivers?"). She assigns a hint of blame to state officials for the tragic death of Wayzata police officer William Mathews. While I agree that bureaucratic incompetence played a role in enabling the lawbreaker to remain on the road, I place much more blame on the totally inept judicial system in this country. The driver who is charged with killing this police officer has a 13-year history of lawlessness. She should have been in prison. Why do police officers have to risk their lives daily to seek out and arrest those who would do law-abiding citizens harm, only to have the criminals set free to do more harm? Who sets sentencing guidelines? Are they totally clueless? Sure, to do the right thing would mean more prisons are needed, and yes, they would cost money. I, for one, would accept paying more taxes if it kept police officers and all citizens safe. The monetary savings from stopping the horrendous cost in life and property by criminals would go a long way in providing the prisons in which they belong.
Robert Moilanen, Rochester
'Medicare for All?' Sure. And barely anything else.
On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Al Franken came out in favor of a "Medicare for All" program. I have to wonder if the following facts were considered in his thought process; they are both significant and damning to the plan.
Currently, Medicare covers 55 million Americans at an annual cost of $646 billion (as of 2015). That's a per-patient cost of $11,745. That is consistent with a recent, but failed, effort by California to implement a similar program. It was found that covering 39 million Californians would cost approximately $400 billion ($200 billion in repurposed current spending and an additional $200 billion in new spending), or roughly $10,250 per patient. For argument's sake, let's split the difference and call it an even $11,000 per patient.
Multiply $11,000 times our current U.S. population of 323 million, and "Medicare for All" comes to an annual price tag of $3.6 trillion. In 2016, our entire budget was $3.9 trillion. In other words, it is possible to give everyone Medicare. And pay the interest on the debt. And that's it. No military, no Social Security, no food stamps, no education spending, nothing toward energy, nothing for the unemployed. So we could have "Medicare for All," but that's all we would have.
If other countries have managed to figure it out, I applaud them. But we are not Norway or Japan or the United Kingdom. This is our country, this is our budget and these are the numbers we have to work with. I truly hope we can find a bipartisan solution to what ails our health care system, but with all due respect, the plan of Sens. Franken and Bernie Sanders is no cure.
Dr. Erik Marksberry, Circle Pines
Equifax demonstrates how much we're at its mercy
I can choose to do business with Target or Home Depot. I can choose to use Citibank or JPMorgan Chase for financial activities. I can even choose to have an account with Ashley Madison. These are all companies that had data breaches in the past few years. I cannot choose whether to have an account at Equifax ("Massive breach exposes 143M," Sept. 8). They have an account for me, whether I like it or not. If I have a home mortgage, if I pay bills, if I have a credit card, I have an account with one of the three credit reporting agencies, which includes Equifax. I can be furious all I want — and I am — but it won't make any difference. I can't prevent my information from going to them.
This information is used for companies to determine if they should open a new credit card for me, refinance my mortgage, give me a good price on my homeowner's insurance or even get a new job. This is important information, and if a company cannot get the information, I may not receive the credit card, qualify for a mortgage refinance, get the best rate for either the mortgage or the homeowner's insurance, or get the job I want. It's the proverbial Catch-22. Furthermore, it's a laugh that Equifax plans to pay for only one year of credit monitoring. The crooks who hacked into Equifax will just wait until that year expires, then have a field day. Bye-bye, good credit rating — hello, identity theft.
Barbara Burkey, Roseville
Not just about earning power
Perhaps it was inevitable that the role of the humanities in the University of Minnesota's massive new capital campaign would be cast in monetary ("a strong asset in making a living") — terms (Opinion Exchange, Sept. 12). Reading this, I was reminded of a remark made by a professor (a scientist) more than 50 years ago — that science and engineering made contemporary life possible, but that the arts and humanities made it worthwhile. Just because some aspects of living can be measured in monetary terms does not mean that this is their only value. Consider how impoverished would be a world in which we could not thrill to the music of Mozart and Philip Glass, or marvel at the insights and phrases of Emily Dickinson and e e cummings. All the technology and science in the world could not alleviate those losses. These, too, are valid and legitimate raisons d'être for the campaign.