IV fluid seems to be the next step in America's water mania. We have been convinced that tap water — which is closely monitored for safety, comes from a source close to home and is free — is clearly inferior to bottled water, which is expensive, comes from a source that we don't know and the farther away the better, such as Fiji Water. We complain about the price of gas, and yet we spend more for a gallon of water.

We do not believe our body that when it tells us we are thirsty, it is time for a drink. It is too late! If we feel thirst, we have waited too long, so we must now drink enough that we never know thirst. Interestingly, the medical literature is now reporting problems with hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels) in runners from too much water intake, especially in those who take a long time to complete a marathon. I doubt that the winners have time to drink that much.

The Sept. 16 article on IV hydration ("Stuck on IV therapy," Variety) provided testimonials in which individuals felt better after "being hydrated." Never underestimate the power of placebo. When I was a resident at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, there were ongoing studies to determine the value of new medications for pain relief. It was clear that a red pill was better than a white one and that a shot was better than a pill. If the shot was painful, the relief was longer-lasting. The abnormal response to placebo was to get no relief. The difference was that the relief from the placebo was short-lived.

Normal people want to feel better. The complaints that the individuals had, for example, a headache, were all temporary and would resolve spontaneously in a relatively short time. If a shot is a good placebo, how good must an IV be — especially with colored fluid and costing $45 to $150?

Theodore Nagel, M.D., Minneapolis

Even more training is needed to cope with humanitarian aid

I am responding to the Sept. 14 article "Mock refugee camp embodies real issues." I am one of the many University of Minnesota faculty members and volunteers who help organize this event every year since it started as a course at the U's Humphrey School in 2010 under the direction of Eric James.

My background is not in crisis response or humanitarianism, but my commitment to this project is motivated by the extraordinary situation we face today with more refugees and displaced persons worldwide (total numbers) than at any time in human history. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' website, "there were 19.5 million refugees worldwide at the end of 2014" and in 2014, "conflict and persecution forced an average of 42,500 persons per day to leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere, either within the borders of their countries or in other countries." Political violence is only one of the trends pushing populations to move quickly; increased opportunities for transportation (facilitated often by organized extralegal organizations) and environmental pressures resulting from climate change are also adding to these numbers.

Training as provided in this simulation is critical to helping professionals and future professionals in nearly every field — and the focus at the U on medicine, public health, public policy and governance, design and shelter, journalism, urban planning and geographic information systems — prepares not only for challenges that might arise in their work, but also to help them understand the complexities that arise when populations can create new towns and cities within hours, and health events can cross borders within days. I encourage academic units around Minnesota to join us in creating more trainings of this sort to prepare our students and colleagues for the Grand Challenge of our generation.

Sherry Gray, St. Paul

The writer is director of international programs at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

• • •

"Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

— from "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus.

Once again we are reminded that these words could be erased from the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited all immigration of Chinese laborers. In 1939, hundreds of Jewish refugees on the St. Louis were returned to Germany to face uncertain fates. I don't want to even discuss Donald Trump in 2015.

Germany has agreed to accept 800,000 war refugees this year alone. Some estimates say 1 million may get asylum there. The U.S. has accepted 1,500 refugees and proposes to accept 10,000 next year.

Some say that is too many and worry that terrorists may be hidden among those who fear for their lives and the lives of their children. The timid say that these refugees need extraordinary screening, despite the fact that screening for a refugee currently takes about one year. The timid say we must be wary and not accept and save the lives of these people. The compassionate and brave say why 10,000 and not 100,000? Germans have suffered terrorist attacks and yet are willing to be their brother's keeper.

I am going to the Minnesota Twins' game tonight, and before the game will ask — along with thousands of others — if the star-spangled banner still waves o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave. It is good that when we sing our national anthem, we ask a question.

Dan Solarz, Minneapolis

• • •

If Donald Trump or someone of his ilk wins the next presidential election, we should box up the Statute of Liberty and send it to Germany before the French demand it back. What are we becoming?

Jack Peterson, Cokato, Minn.

• • •

One year ago, mothers with their children and unaccompanied minors on our southern border arrived, fleeing a drug war in Central America, brought on by America's lust for drugs. Governors mobilized the National Guard, while politicians from Washington warned of disease, lawlessness, loss of jobs and utter chaos.

One year later, men, women and children fleeing war in the Middle East, brought on by America's lust for world dominance, are seeking to cross the ocean into America. No National Guard, but a welcome from the politicians, with promises of support. There is no fear of disease or infiltration by undesirables or loss of American jobs.

What am I missing?

James Hudson, Minneapolis

Having seen both sides, I'm convinced we still need unions

The time for unions has passed (Readers Write, Sept. 16)?

Is it the American way that all power should be on one side? I have managed both union and nonunion shops and worked in both union and nonunion jobs. If a company thinks of workers as assets, a union is not a deterrent. The pay of workers has not kept up with inflation nor the pay of executives. Companies cut medical insurance and pensions, yet blame the government and not their greed. If a CEO cuts labor, he is a hero and gets millions. Not all of this money is savings; much of it is paid as bonuses to those at the top. Even if you never worked in a union, you reaped the benefits as nonunion shops competed for workers. As union membership dropped, so did inflation-adjusted wages. If you do not wish to go back to robber barons, we need unions. How many critics have worked in a union?

David Newville, Coon Rapids


Why a gun, not a punch in nose?

So, after time to contemplate his deed, Neal Zumberge realizes that another human being didn't have to die in a neighborhood confrontation. But in the heat of the moment and rush of adrenaline, that realization escaped him. So he killed someone with a handy gun. Had the gun not been available, Zumberge might have socked his neighbor in the nose or thrown rotten tomatoes at him with less-than-deadly effect. Another argument for reasonable gun control that respects both the Second Amendment and common sense.

Elaine Frankowski, Minneapolis