“Do we really want to live like this?” (Sept. 25) was a well-written article about the Metropolitan Council’s housing plan for 2021 to 2030. Katherine Kersten explains the issue very well and offers up her standard fix for the problem. Besides encouraging “the formation of strong families,” she wants to reform education and lower taxes and create a friendly business environment aka lower regulation.
In a 2015 survey, CNBC selected Minnesota as the state with the best business environment. Housing, schools, regulation, taxes and educated workforce all played a big role in our 2015 ranking.
Bill Ojile, Lino Lakes
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Kersten’s commentary should serve as a powerful reminder of the inescapable fact that everyone living in the seven-county Twin Cities metro has ceded significant control over their lives to an unelected bureaucracy. Why have we granted so much unchecked power to people whose views are entirely unaccountable? We have no idea what motivates them, yet they exert far greater control over our 186 communities than do our mayors and city councils, all of whom were elected by their local citizens.
The legislators who created the Met Council in the late ‘60s did so from the conviction that our metropolitan area needed a rational, coordinated strategy for its long-term growth. However, the council and its minions have gone well beyond the bounds of that original mission to the point that they are dictating where we shall live, what types of housing we will occupy and whom our neighbors will be. Their goal now is to improve the financial well-being of low-income residents by dispersing them throughout the metro area. The rationale: Relocate to a better neighborhood and good things will follow. Nonsense. Societal good will come only when we Minnesotans do the hard work of helping low-income individuals to form stable families, providing their children with a variety of educational alternatives and encouraging them to seek full-time employment.
Many of our churches, synagogues and mosques are actively engaged in the effort. Free individuals encouraging others to find their way is vastly superior to all of us receiving diktats from officialdom.
Mark H. Reed, Plymouth
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Kersten argues for preserving socioeconomically exclusive communities, with judgmental put-downs of workers in low-wage occupations who lack spouses with good jobs. Her same-old housing policy, traceable to early-20th-century planning commissions, requires a low-wage class to reside in cast-off houses or tenements in neighborhoods with little employment opportunity. This serves only to preserve the unjust and unhealthy status quo. As a college-educated (now retired) pink-collar worker who proudly scrimped and saved all my life to afford a below-median-price home, I want my hardworking neighbors, along with inner-city citizens and their children, to have a better chance at the American dream.
We need to raise the federal minimum wage, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the minimum overtime-exempt salary; switch to single-payer health insurance, and provide part-time community jobs with “make-up” hours for workers with high school diplomas or GEDs trapped in part-time jobs. Studies show that state and even local minimum-wage increases do not kill jobs. Make-up-hours programs would be financed partly by taxes on larger employers who will not offer full-time work. In our new service economy these measures would make better housing more affordable, restore dignity to all work, and restore hope so children won’t give up on school.
Amelia Hummel, Robbinsdale
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Why is the Star Tribune printing articles by Kersten? D.J. Tice does a good job of representing the conservative viewpoint in the Opinion Exchange section without mangling the facts, but Kersten cannot make her case without doing so. The first few sentences of Kersten’s latest article prove my point.
She makes several statements at the beginning that set up the reader to believe that a family of four (undoubtedly two parents and two children) will be the typical household in the Twin Cities in 2040. But demographic trends are working against her, the average household size for the metro region will probably be around 2.5 by 2040, which changes everything in terms of needs and affordability.
Kersten’s determination to plan for the future by looking solely (and not too closely) at the past is amazing, narrow-minded and harmful.
Paul O’Connor, Bloomington
Minneapolis, kicking itself? No, Hodges was right on target
Jon Tevlin, in his Sept. 27 column about a proposed soccer stadium, quotes a source who says: “It’s very easy to do two things in Minneapolis, be anti-stadium and anti-rich people.” Sadly, it’s not easy enough. If it was, we’d never have handed over hundreds of millions for one stadium after another.
It’s a shame that Tevlin paints Mayor Betsy Hodges as a truculent bureaucrat who let another great stadium “opportunity” slip away. On the contrary, she’s one of the few elected officials with the guts to say no to the latest billionaire with his hand out. I only wish she’d been mayor when the Minnesota Vikings were pulling off their “build-it-or-we-leave” scam on the taxpayers. Unlike her predecessor, she might have used the city’s funds for the public good, rather than as a private handout.
Peter Latner, Minneapolis
It’s an embarrassing impression we’re giving to the world
Our family was an overnight host to a 23-year-old saxophone player who was part of a quartet that was touring Minnesota last summer from Sweden. After a concert here, the group was traveling to Alexandria, Minn., to perform. As we were getting her ready to leave and saying our goodbyes, she seemed anxious, and I asked her if everything was OK. She asked me if I thought they were going to be safe on the drive. When I asked her what she was afraid of, she said she was worried that if the car broke down, someone with a gun would stop and hurt them. I was stunned, saddened and embarrassed. How many more innocent people need to die before we do something about gun control?
Liz Knutson, Minneapolis
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I am as troubled as anyone about gun violence in this country, and I am saddened by the Oregon tragedy. I am disturbed when such tragedies are rationalized in a single, simplistic way, such as “anti-Christian” or as the result of “mental illness,” which most of us are unqualified to diagnose. African-American victims in Charleston were targeted; victims in the Sikh community in Milwaukee were targeted; even children in Sandy Hook were targeted, all by hate and out-of-control rage and easy access to guns that the shooters perceived as a solution. This combination of factors makes for a complicated problem that cannot be explained with simplistic sound bites.
Stop the judgments and go to work with others to address all the problems that lead to such tragedies. Your help and involvement are needed. Let’s never forget that lives are forever damaged by rage and violence, and that more rage and violence will not solve problems. And for those who have sent me anonymous hate mail for my past letters to the editor, shame on you for being just another member of the rage-and-hate crowd. I choose to behave otherwise.
Cheryl Coulter, Bloomington