President Donald Trump’s tariffs, directed first at China, have now been levied against French, German and Spanish wines, Italian cheeses, and who knows what else. Target and Walmart have directed their suppliers not to pass along price increases to them, so they don’t have to increase consumer prices.

That’s a fine strategy for suppliers with big pockets, who can switch their manufacturing from China to someplace like Bangladesh or Indonesia, where wages and labor are tantamount to slavery and working conditions are abominable. But smaller suppliers, the little companies, can’t make those moves. Their (our) existence is threatened by these tariffs, leaving the playing field only to the biggest suppliers.

There are two problems, at least, with the strategy of holding down price increases driven by the tariffs, excluding morality and ethics. First, it increases the likelihood that in the long run, smaller companies will be driven out of business and their employees will be out of work. Second, it offers implicit political support for Trump and his ill-advised trade strategy by hiding the reality of the economic, social and political effects on our country.

My very small company will be passing along the price increases caused by the tariffs — a risky move, certainly, but one that offers the best possibility for our survival as a business. And also, we refuse to enable Trump and disguise the economic, social and political reality and effects of the unilateral decisions he makes.

John A. Desteian, St. Paul

The writer is a wine importer.


Impeachment process is a parody

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff opened an Intelligence Committee hearing in September by reading a parody of President Donald Trump’s infamous call to the Ukrainian president. His introduction stated: “This is in sum and character what the president was trying to communicate with the president of Ukraine.” It wasn’t, and he didn’t admit it was a parody until later in the hearing.

If the actual transcript summary served his purpose, Schiff would have used it, so he took advantage of this “virtual reality world” we live in. And sadly, too many Americans believe his was a direct quote.

Very little makes sense anymore. We are told everything is in “code” so we shouldn’t believe the actual words. Rather, we are presented a “plausible scenario” as being the truth and told only to “fill in the obvious blanks.”

We’re assured that bipartisanship agreement should be present in impeachment inquiries. And fighting for one’s constitutionally elected position is criminalized. Having an outrageous and crude style, notorious imprecision and operating as a “stream of consciousness” have become “obstruction” and “impeachable offenses.”

We’ve lost the meaning of concepts like racism, hatred, stupidity, treason and impeachable offenses. As Dilbert, the comic strip character, observed: “That happens when reality becomes so absurd that it is indistinguishable from parody.”

Steve Bakke, Edina


City leadership, try listening to us

Edina Mayor Jim Hovland’s “I’ve had enough of the attacks on our schools” (Opinion Exchange, Nov. 1) missed a key leadership moment — to acknowledge and respect resident frustration. Whether local or national, elected leaders represent all constituents, not just those who agree with them. Acknowledging frustration and demonstrating real listening is true leadership.

At an Edina City Council retreat this past summer, the City Council identified Edina residents as a threat to their “livable city” strategy. You read that right — a threat to the Edina council’s plans are the residents they represent.

We need only look next door at the Minneapolis 2040 Plan to uncover real (not imagined or fake) tension between residents and elected leadership about the future of their city. In the next few weeks, Mayor Hovland will be pushing final approval of a similarly contentious and faulty vision for Edina — the 2018 Comprehensive Plan.

Hovland has served as mayor for nearly 15 years. It’s time for a fresh, more representative vision to grow. Such a vision has strong, broad roots in the community, but Hovland and the Edina City Council appear to view it as an invasive weed to be controlled.

As longtime residents of Edina, we know Edina can do better, and must.



Delhi smog shows the future Trump wants to set for our cities

A headline from this Tuesday: “Delhi chokes in smog; no end in sight.” A lung surgeon there said, “A child born yesterday in Delhi would have smoked the equivalent of 40 to 50 cigarettes on the first day of his or her life.”

Meanwhile, our President Donald Trump dismissively blames California wildfires on the governor’s refusal to rake forest floors, reverses energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs (saying they make him look orange) and opens our nature preserves to drilling or logging (whatever our insatiable commerce demands) while arrogantly thumbing his nose at the Paris Agreement, a climate promise signed by 186 states plus the European Union.

These are only three of the assaults this administration is making on our stewardship of the land, on our attempts to clean the air, water and soil, and on our attempts to mitigate our contribution to the destruction that climate change causes.

Perhaps our president feels reassured that he doesn’t look orange as he returns us to the old days of peu importe, but I don’t find facemasks any more attractive — or comfortable.

Shawn O’Rourke Gilbert, Edina


Don’t blame legislation for closure

The petulant behavior of the owners of O’Gara’s, when they are faced with reality, requires that they place blame (“O’Gara’s, a St. Paul institution since 1941, won’t reopen after all,” Nov. 5).

In this case, the so-called reason for closing the business is a requirement that helps others earn a living wage and have time for good health (as the summary of the story says, “Restaurant’s owner blames closure on $15 minimum wage, sick time requirements”).

How small we appear when we blame largehearted legislation instead of accepting the politics of decency aimed toward sustaining a generous society.

Are there realities to face in a changing economy? This “St. Paul institution since 1941” is a fact — a long run of years. Count it up and count it as good fortune.

Rodney Hatle, Owatonna


Monday marked first snowfall — and first weather dramatization

Tuesday’s weather photos and accompanying description in the Minnesota section reminded me that it’s that time of the year again — overstated weather observations. I had to look very closely to see the few snowflakes in the photo of the snowstorm that hit Loring Park. I am looking forward, probably within the next two weeks, to the warnings that the ice on local lakes is not yet safe for walking.

Bruce Lemke, Orono

We want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts here.