The "Couch Potato" low-cost portfolio described by Scott Burns ("How simple can pay off," Jan. 27) concludes that you can do nothing and everything will work out. He does not disclose what the investments were or exactly how the calculations were done. The conclusions may lead a reader to act on this to her detriment.

Using his assumptions, I recalculated the 20-year performance results of the 10 largest stock mutual funds as of 2000. Included are both actively and passively managed funds. These are likely to be the most widely used fund investments. Performance is from Morningstar and Yahoo Finance. Burns appears to increase the withdrawals by the rate of inflation. His average withdrawal was $6,397 per year. Starting with $100,000 in 2001 and withdrawing $6,397 at the end of each year, eight of the 10 mutual funds ran out of money by 2020. The S&P 500 index fund only lasted until the 12th year. The two surviving funds had ending balances of $22,734 and $5,867. My personal conclusions are that neither fund will last much longer, and the investors who paid higher fees got something for their money. This is not theoretical. These are the real investments widely used by real people.

This is serious stuff. What does a person do when they run out of money? It is difficult to live on Social Security alone. Journalists and other financial writers have articles that appear plausible but are often unsupported. Rules of thumb and myths should not be repeated. The editors should be careful what they print. Many may be harmed if they believe this stuff.

These investors could have done better; however, that is the subject of another article.

Herbert Schechter, Minnetonka

The writer is a certified public accountant.


Better lines of mayoral, council responsibility must be drawn

Thank you to the Star Tribune Editorial Board for its endorsement of much-needed and overdue changes to Minneapolis governance proposed by the Minneapolis Charter Commission ("Seeking a stronger Mpls. City Hall," Feb. 12). The goal of more clearly defining lines of accountability at City Hall has been studied and advocated for by urban studies scholars, the League of Women Voters and many thoughtful political leaders past and present. As the editorial describes, the consequences of ill-defined lines of responsibility in city governance is degrading the quality of our representative democracy. Thoughtful structural change is badly needed. The Charter Commission proposals deserve both scrutiny and support.

Charlie Meyers, Minneapolis
• • •

I don't oppose giving Minneapolis voters a chance to amend the city charter in the November municipal elections. I believe it will give them an official voice with which to respond to the death of George Floyd.

My objection goes to the content of the amendments. For instance, there is one provision that if any City Council member "publicly or privately, directly or indirectly … attempt[s] or purport[s] to direct or supervise advocate the hiring or promotion … of any employee … except by communication with the Mayor," it is "a misdemeanor upon conviction of which a Council member forfeits his or her office."

I don't believe the city charter should attempt to create a crime, nor do I believe that advocating a hiring should be a crime. Making things crimes is the business of the state legislature. The entire thrust of these amendments is to strengthen the mayor's office and more clearly define the relationship between the mayor and City Council. In my opinion, the best way to strengthen the mayor's office is to elect a strong, competent mayor.

We have had such mayors under our present charter. Two of the best examples are Hubert Humphrey and Don Fraser. As for the City Council, it will always have conflict with the mayor. Arthur Naftalin, a former mayor, and another good one, invited the members of the City Council to a breakfast at the start of their terms. He, of course, welcomed them, urged them to consult with him on matters of concern and spoke of the need to work together for the benefit of this city. He also said that he realized that each of the members of the City Council felt they could do a better job of mayor than he would do and that half of them were probably right, "but no one knows which half."

I believe I am the only member of the current Charter Commission who has also served on the Minneapolis City Council, of which I was president. I was also president of the Planning Commission, and served briefly on the Minneapolis Park Board. And I ran twice for mayor and lost. We will never know which half I belonged to.

Dan Cohen, Minneapolis


Simply 'work' for the American people. Don't make it a 'fight'

There has been much controversy over former President Donald Trump's use of the word "fight" in his rally speech preceding the Jan. 6 breach of the nation's Capitol. I wish all politicians would abandon the use of the word. I don't want my representatives to fight for me. I want them to work as cooperatively as possible to accomplish common goals. Fight is a divisive word. There are better choices.

Marilyn Will, Northfield


The way it went

I recently had two days of assessing my first-grade students in a one-on-one meeting. It was wonderful!

At times as I was assessing the children, I became frustrated. In my mind it was February, and they should know how to spell the word "went"!

I took a step back …

They went home March 13 and did not return to school.

They went from having parents as parents to having parents as their teacher.

They went to seeing mom and dad working at the dining room table.

They saw as mom and dad went to school to get food.

They went through a summer without playing with their friends or hugging grandma.

They went to drive-by birthday parties.

They went on bike rides alone.

They went on Zoom to see cousins.

They went to school wearing a mask.

They went to washing their hands multiple times a day at school.

They went back on Zoom to learn from their teachers and peers.

They went on back to school with half of the class they did not know.

They went to seeing their teacher wear "Star Wars" gear!

Each step of the way they went.

I am so grateful that they went.

They know went.

I am looking forward to next week when I can teach them how to spell "went."

Laurie Schneibel, Lakeville


The U contribution

I found the Feb. 7 article "Can we predict Alzheimer's?" very interesting, but I was surprised there was no mention of the Nun Study, particularly since it began at the University of Minnesota.

Dr. David Snowdon and his colleagues studied 678 members of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Their group had the advantage of reviewing autobiographical essays that the nuns had written upon entry to the order, often in their 20s. They found that a strong correlation between the development of Azheimer's and what they called "idea density," the number of discrete ideas in every 10 words seen in the essays. The higher the number, the less likely one was to develop the disease.

A number of these women donated their brains to the study following their deaths, giving even further informations regarding this disease. The IBM researchers clearly have provided more information to this disease, but let's give credit to our own researchers at the U.

Dr. Elisa Wright, Bloomington

The writer is a retired physician.

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