To the farmers who in January worried over dry fields and wished for snow, well done. And now, please redirect your efforts toward world peace, a cure for cancer and an end to hunger. And while you’re at it, how about blanketing Washington, D.C., and our nation with a little spirit of cooperation and respect. Well, I suppose that last one would be too much, even for your mighty powers.
Sybil Axner, Minneapolis
CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM
‘Monopoly’ game analogy does not hold; capitalism grows the pie
The Feb. 20 letter writer who attempted to “demystify” socialism and capitalism with a “Monopoly” game analogy took a very shortsighted, fundamentally flawed view. The writer suggested that capitalism gathers wealth into fewer hands until everything grinds to a halt with one winner and many losers. This analogy assumes, as in the board game, that there are finite economic assets to be divvied up. In reality, capitalism stimulates creativity, initiative and risk-taking, resulting in creation of new technologies, businesses, jobs and, ultimately, prosperity, resulting in many winners. Capitalism provides incentive for the competent and driven. Capitalism makes the pie bigger. Socialism is catnip for the indolent, giving equal pie to all, including those that did nothing to make it.
Chad Hagen, Sleepy Eye, Minn.
PROPOSED GAS TAX INCREASE
(1) We can’t bear it. (2) Inflation should have brought it here anyway.
Gov. Tim Walz’s proposed general fund budget includes $324 million for transportation (“Ambitious plan seeks billions for health care, schools, roads,” front page, Feb. 20). Minnesotans need to understand that doesn’t include other significant funds that are dedicated by the state Constitution to “highway purposes.”
In 2018, Minnesota drivers paid nearly $2 billion for our roads and bridges, $1.3 billion in gas taxes and taxes on vehicle sales and registration, and $622 million from federal aid (taxes). That doesn’t include $114 million in highway bonds, money we borrow and pay interest on.
Gov. Walz wants to nearly double that amount by raising the gas tax 20 cents a gallon. That’s $2 on 10 gallons of gas. He also wants to index the tax for inflation, so that it would increase every year, and to increase the tax on the sale and registration of vehicles. This is a very heavy lift for our drivers.
Minnesotans need to know that the general fund budget doesn’t tell the whole story of how much our state government spends.
Sara Amaden, Edina
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Our gas tax would be roughly 15 cents higher today if it had simply kept up with inflation (Consumer Price Index) over the past three decades. The gas tax has decreased by one-third, in real dollars, over this time. It’s time for our transportation budget to regain what it has lost to inflation.
Matt Steele, Minneapolis
BORDERS AND IMMIGRATION
To continue the discussion about assimilation, an anecdote
To the Feb. 19 letter writer who wants cultures to be unchanged by immigration: I completely agree. Let me share what I experienced as an overnight front desk clerk for a local hotel.
The hotel worked with a local truck company, with drivers coming in at all hours. Instead of heading to the bar, many would hang out at the front desk, talking at me as I was attempting to study for my college classes. One night a family of Asian descent came in — two adults and four children. The father asked if they could have two cots. I suggested two adjoining rooms, offering the second room for the price of two cots. The father turned and talked to his family in their native language. A truck driver who had been talking at me was physically showing his displeasure at these guests and exclaimed, “When you come to America, you should speak American!”
The father looked at me with some discomfort. I turned to the truck driver and said, “So would that be Ojibwe or Dakota?” The truck driver looked dumbfounded, while the Asian father smiled and nodded, “We will take the two rooms. Thank you.” Sadly, it’s hard to find a restaurant cooking our native foods of raccoon, muskrat and deer. You can still find maple candies. Enjoy.
Robert Norris-Weber, Minneapolis
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While I agree that immigration is a problem for this country, it seems that few letters to the editor of our paper and others address the root cause of the problem: poor governance in countries to the south of us, which allows crime, violence and poverty to thrive while the citizenry suffers. Honduras, for instance, has a population of about 9 million, while about a million Hondurans live in the U.S., about 600,000 of whom are undocumented (source: U.S. Department of State website).
A recent letter writer called attention to the fact that most free and prosperous countries, including ours, mounted a revolution to obtain these freedoms, and wondered why so many are willing to leave their homeland rather than fight for it. Should not our foreign aid to these countries come with some strings attached? Should not the governments of Honduras and other Central American countries be held to account in the way this largesse is spent? Their rulers should not be allowed to squirrel our money away in Swiss bank accounts, for instance, instead of using it to improve the lives of their people. Poverty in these countries is the root cause of crime, violence and drug trafficking, although the latter is certainly fueled by the huge demand for illicit drugs in our own country.
The best immigration policy is to work toward making it possible for people to stay in their own homeland with safety and hope for a decent future for themselves and their children.
Carol Larsen, Plymouth
Well-meaning white people must distinguish between impact, intent
In response to the Feb. 20 letter writer who described herself as an older white woman who was “sad” about her interaction with a young man who said her comment was racist, and as an older white woman myself who has studied racism and white supremacy for the past dozen years or so, I can offer a few comments.
People of color are often questioned when they are in a predominantly white space. As the letter writer points out, “he obviously had prior experience with this.” The important thing to remember is intention vs. impact. Her intention was good — she thought he looked confused, and she wanted to help. But the impact of her words, words that this person had probably heard many times without good intention behind them, hits hard. I appreciate that she wants to learn more. But it’s not up to the young man or any other person of color to help her understand racism. She and I and all white people need to do their own education. My recommendation is to start with “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo. An excellent book that sheds light on the toxicity of white supremacy.
Sharon DeMark, St. Paul