We should not be even a little bit surprised by the lead headline “Most dire climate warning” (front page, Oct. 9). Nor by daily news concerning the huge numbers of hungry humans among us, homelessness, violent behavior with guns and without, and all the rest that results from carelessness with money and materials and population.

By a fine coincidence, “The Plow That Broke the Plains” was there when I completed the reading and flipped on the TV. It’s the 1936 half-hour documentary film that shows what happened to “the Great Plains region of the United States and Canada when uncontrolled agricultural farming led to the Dust Bowl.”

Gee, does that have a familiar ring to it? The plow is another good thing ill-used and carried to an extreme.

A film so quietly thoughtful as this is sure to be lost on a society that simply wants to move on — backward, that is. Searching out a past time when America was so great as to be permanently without flaw.

“The Plow That Broke the Plains” did reflect on necessary legislation that helped to plant huge numbers of trees for windbreaks. The trees grew and did their best. But humans forgot why the trees were there and subsequently cut them out to make more land to make more money. So what started to happen again? That’s right. And then we remembered to plant trees right there again.

It was, anyway, a learning experience. We continue to learn as well as to forget.

Labeled “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant,” that particular documentary is now preserved in our National Film Registry.

Rodney Hatle, Owatonna, Minn.

• • •

You have used the same climate headline for 15 years. It has lost all true meaning. It just means that the United Nations wants more of our tax money.

D.A. Peterson, Big Lake, Minn.


Lower pay desired for president? Just go with the status quo

Regarding proposals to pay a lower salary to the next president of the University of Minnesota (“Can U get new president for a bargain?” Oct. 8, and Readers Write, Oct. 9):

Hire a woman. We’re used to working for less.

Nancy Harris, St. Paul

• • •

Jo Brinda’s insightful Oct. 9 letter (“Dollars for sports, not leadership”) expresses the bewilderment many of us feel over the money the university spends on athletics. But Brinda understates the football coach’s compensation at $1 million. According to the Daily Gopher, that’s just his base salary. He also receives $2.5 million a year for “media, fundraising, community involvement, endorsements, apparel, and shoes” — all things that are expected of the university president for no additional pay.

Karen Bachman, Minneapolis


Resistance to immigrants, neglect of the homeless, abundant luxury

This is a late response to an Oct. 4 letter writer whose reaction to a story about immigrants’ anxiety over an impending Trump administration rule change was the usual anti-immigration foot stomping — these people are “milking the system” and “taking advantage.” I generally read this to mean, “Stay out. We don’t have enough.” A quick search on the internet disputes that concern.

• 99 percent of U.S. homes have at least one TV; 66 percent have three or more.

• 77.2 million Xboxes have been sold.

• 5.5 million U.S. families own more than one home.

• The average American family owns 2.28 vehicles.

• Americans throw away more than 38 million tons of food per year.

• American families eat out an average of four to five times a week.

• U.S. market for luxury goods: $182 billion.


We can choose to hoard our stuff and refuse to give our immigrants a running start, but we would do this at our own peril. Our nation was built on the backs of immigrants, and we continue to depend on immigrants for our economic vitality. Besides, I would argue, we do have enough — loaves, fishes and Xboxes after dessert.

Kathleen Wedl, Edina

• • •

Regarding the Hiawatha homeless encampment: The most tragic unspoken part of this story is that there is enough individual and corporate wealth in the Twin Cities to solve this issue within a week. Shame on those with the means and for companies with the means to financially solve this for not doing what is right, right now, for not only the good of humanity, but your neighbors.

Johann Gebauer, Minneapolis


In the Twin Cities: Aggressive panhandlers, attentive audiences

My wife and I spent four days in Minneapolis and were surprised by the large number of aggressive panhandlers and homeless people. They continuously and aggressively confronted us and others, asking for handouts without any police discouragement or public assistance. This is contrary to our experience in other American cities, including New York, Chicago and Baltimore.

My wife is running marathons in all 50 states, and over the weekend she ran the Twin Cities Marathon. Although it was an excellent event, what we encountered downtown was entirely different. The streets around our hotel were filled with aggressive panhandlers, many on drugs and/or suffering from mental illness. We walked to the Basilica of St. Mary, along the way encountering street preachers, panhandlers, vagrants and drunk partyers, but not a single police officer. Riding Metro Transit trains over four days was the same. In one instance the train stopped due to a “security incident,” and we suddenly found ourselves on foot in an unfamiliar location. Telling local friends about this over dinner, they were astonished that we had done these things — walked on the streets and ridden the trains. We hoped things would get better, but they never did.

Your marathon is billed as “the most beautiful urban marathon in America,” but we can’t recommend it, nor travel to Minneapolis. Walking the streets guarantees confrontations with the potential for assault. Minneapolis simply doesn’t protect those on the margins of society, or those on whom they might prey, and both groups deserve better.

Tom Kilpatrick, Nichols Hills, Okla.

• • •

Dear Minneapolis-St. Paul,

We performed at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts last month with the Gipsy Kings and we want to thank everyone for making it a wonderful night! From the moment we arrived backstage, the theater personnel made us feel very welcome. They were polite and courteous and showed us to our dressing room and were there for us all day and night. Like old friends with warm smiles and friendly conversation, they took good care of us. Everyone from the kind staff to the amazing caterers nourished our souls with courtesy and delicious food.

This was the first performance of the tour, and we were pleasantly surprised at how enthusiastic and attentive the St. Paul audience was. The listening and response to our songs, along with the loud and long applause, led us to be so incredibly grateful for the level of sophistication that the audience held. We were overjoyed that an unknown opening act was so well-received.

We hope to come back to the Twin Cities soon so we can share our music with your wonderful community again.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely yours,

Rich Wyman and Lisa Needham,

Park City, Utah

The authors perform as Park88.