Once again the inept, dysfunctional, arrogant Minneapolis City Council has balked on a replacement for a future Third Precinct police station ("Downtown site off table for Third Precinct," Sept. 20). This tells me it doesn't care about the safety of the citizens its members pretend to represent. Still operating in makeshift quarters downtown is preposterous. It is disrespectful and unacceptable. This city is in dire need of more officers, but why would anyone want to work here? The criticism is constant. Yes, we need some reform, but let's at least give these officers a place to do their jobs. Mayor Jacob Frey, get it done!
Karin Ward, Minneapolis
A decision to return the Third Precinct to its original location would be the most adult act the City Council could make. If you were to put this to a vote, I am sure the neighborhood would favor this. The building is ugly both inside and out, so money spent on the rehab of the site would be needed. But I would urge the council members to stop tiptoeing around and do the right thing. If you can't do this, then let Mayor Frey be the adult in the room ("Frey pushes for Third Precinct decision," Sept. 19).
Kathryn Burow, Minneapolis
Norway comparison fails
Jacqueline Brux points out that the child poverty rate for children in single-parent homes is higher in the U.S. (32%) than in Norway (20%). She makes the case that we could reduce child poverty and improve outcomes by increasing the social support system ("Single parenthood doesn't mean poverty in Norway," Opinion Exchange, Sept. 20). She also says that we can fund these changes if "Americans were to overcome their historical reluctance to tax the income and the wealth (such as capital gains) of its richest citizens and corporations."
I would like to start by reminding readers that the U.S. does have substantial social programs including Medicaid, free K-12 education, free- and reduced-price school lunches, the earned income tax credit, tax credits for dependents, affordable community colleges and income-based college scholarships.
Contrary to what Brux says, U.S. tax rates are quite progressive. According to a study by the Tax Foundation, a taxpayer whose income is between $20,000 and $30,000 would pay 4.1% in income, payroll, business and excise taxes. A taxpayer whose income is between $75,000 and $100,000 would pay 17.7%. And a taxpayer whose income is over $1 million would pay 33.1%. The rich pay more in taxes than do middle and lower-income taxpayers.
Now that we understand the connection between single-parent families and childhood poverty, the question is: What should government do? Simply increasing social programs can reduce the immediate problem but doesn't address the long-term problem. Part of the solution is to encourage people to wait to have children until after graduating from high school and getting married. The goal of poverty reduction programs should be to help people become independent, not merely on giving more government aid to people.
James Brandt, New Brighton
Jacqueline Brux's "Single parenthood doesn't mean poverty in Norway" is a response to Nicholas Kristof's "The privilege we liberals can't see," which appeared previously in the Star Tribune opinion section. There is one thing missing in Brux's comparison of the United States and Norway: American racism! I do not know what role racism plays in the social conditions of Norway. But it plays a huge role in America, whether one is talking about poverty or single-parent homes or myriad other American social conditions.
In closing, Brux lists all the social systems and policies that exist in Norway. She continues by saying, "Indeed, health care and education (and especially pre-K education), along with transportation to school (thereby avoiding the chronic high absenteeism in the U.S.) are probably most important in overcoming childhood poverty ... ." No one can argue that. However, in American society, the elephant in the room is racism. This is something that Brux fails to consider in her argument, despite its impact on all things American.
George Larson, Brooklyn Park
In her counterpoint, Brux compares Norway to the U.S. when challenging Kristof's column on single parenthood and poverty. When making the comparison of the two countries, she fails to note that the population of Norway is a bit under 5.5 million, whereas the U.S.' is over 333 million. Norway is able to afford its social programs in part because of its significantly smaller population and in part because of its enormous revenue from North Sea oil. The discovery of that oil propelled Norway from a less prosperous country to a very prosperous country. Further, in comparing tax regimens, it needs to be pointed out that the U.S. has a higher marginal tax rate on its highest earners than Norway. But Norway extends its highest rates further down the income scale so that combined with its consumption taxes the middle class in Norway pays significantly higher taxes than the U.S. middle class.
Ken Cutler, Edina
SENATE DRESS CODE
Expressing decorum how?
So U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who yells "Liar!" like a common thug at the State of the Union address, accuses Sen. John Fetterman of lack of decorum for his attire. Let she who is blameless cast the first stone.
Norma Williams, Minneapolis
Amplifying a warning
Last week the foundations representing every former president from Herbert Hoover to Barack Obama, with the exception of the Eisenhower Foundation, released a joint letter on calling on Americans to engage in civil political discourse, and to remember that tolerance and respect are key to peaceful coexistence.
I find far too few noticed, but maybe they will get the message from a letter here. They said that they represent many differing views but that our democracy is in peril unless, and I quote, "We recognize that these views can exist peaceably side by side when rooted in the principles of democracy. Debate and disagreement are central features in a healthy democracy. Civility and respect in political discourse, whether in an election year or otherwise, are essential."
Melvin Aanerud, Ham Lake
Crimea situation not what it seemed
Have mercy on us poor headline skimmers. And shed a tear for Elon Musk and the tempest in a teapot over Starlink in Crimea.
No, Musk did not sabotage a Ukrainian attack (as claimed a Sept. 9 headline) by disabling Starlink. Starlink has never been enabled over Crimea, due to U.S. sanctions law and other reasons.
John Rash ("Elon Musk shouldn't command Ukraine decisions," Opinion Exchange, Sept. 16) traced how the Musk/Crimea reports spread following a glitch in Walter Isaacson's bestselling Musk bio, and all credit to Isaacson for immediately clarifying that anecdote.
But beware the power of first impressions — the initial framing of a news story — which tainted the headline of the Sept. 16 commentary.
No, Musk is not "command[ing] Ukraine decisions." Rather, Musk refused a hurried back-channel request from Ukrainian officials to enable Starlink over Crimea for an attack. His response would have been different had the request come through channels — he would have honored an official White House request (as Musk said during the All-In Summit cited by Rash).
In other words, Musk is being pilloried for not inserting himself as a decisionmaker. We're left to wonder why Ukraine did not go through official channels to begin with. Or perhaps it did and was turned down upon assessment of the risk relative to Russia's red lines on Crimea.
Drew Hamre, Golden Valley