Clarence Thomas, healthcare, energy and mining, BNSF derailment
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For most of my 50 years of adulthood, I assumed the Supreme Court was trustworthy enough to be an independent tribunal. No more. Supreme Court justices have not become better than elected politicians. There may not be a rule that says a Supreme Court justice cannot accept major gifts, but there should be (“Thomas accepted gift trips from a donor”, front page, April 7). Trust is easily lost and slow to regain. Thank you, Judge Clarence Thomas, for contributing to my growing distrust of the court. Thanks to the other judges for being unwilling to fix this problem a long time ago.
Craig Britton, Plymouth
Another group of talented managers failed to make health insurance a going concern. Evan Ramstad’s column in the April 5 edition reports that neither generous capitalization, cutting-edge technology, nor deep expertise helped Bright Health of Bloomington (“The state’s largest IPO is a cautionary tale”). Their failure comes shortly after Jeff Bezos, Jamie Dimon and Warren Buffett saw their brainchild, Haven Healthcare, hit the charts. Its lifespan was also less than three years.
It’s time to rethink the financing of health care in the United States. We distinguish ourselves from developed countries by our belief that the free market can solve the problems of dysfunctional health care and exorbitant costs. “Free market” seems to mean private capital operating with the lightest possible constraint by regulation.
This model works very well in the production of consumer goods. It fails in health care financing because many consumers are pressured to shop around or find it confusing to do so. Also, as a decent company, we are forced to offer an option to those who are overpriced, which drives up the total costs. In fact, our health care funding hodgepodge, with its duplication and multiple standards, is itself a major cost driver. Adding a few more companies to the mix is going in the wrong direction.
Instead, let’s decide that every resident of the United States needs coverage and use social insurance to provide it. After all, the larger the insurance pool, the greater the efficiency. This is the approach pioneered by Medicare, and we know it works.
Joel Clemmer, St. Paul
A recent letter from an industry organization denounces the 20-year ban on mining of federally owned minerals on national forest lands upstream of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Area (“Get the necessary minerals here,” April 5). The letter ignores the incalculable value of the boundary waters and grossly misleads the amount of minerals covered by the ban.
The environmental assessment underlying the ban states that ”
The argument that metals in the mining ban zone are necessary for the green economy is not credible. The minerals do not exist there in sufficient quantities to justify irreparably damaging the boundary waters with the inevitable water pollution from mining. According to data from the US Geological Survey, the amount of minerals a proposed mine would produce is tiny in terms of US demand – 1.5% for cobalt, 3.6% for nickel and 2.3% for copper. The only viable solution for the transition to a green economy is to continue to rely on our long-standing and trusted allies – Canada, Australia, Norway and others – for cobalt and nickel. Copper is abundant around the world.
Congress and the Minnesota Legislature should act to make the mining ban permanent.
Becky Rom, Ely, Minn.
The author is the national chair of the Campaign to Save Boundary Waters.
This week, President Joe Biden visited Cummins’ Fridley electric generating facility as part of his “Invest in America” tour to tout federal funding for infrastructure and clean energy projects in the United States. United (“Biden touts investments in Minnesota.” April 4).
Of course, he didn’t mention the controversial Cut Inflation Act policies that threaten to undermine the US clean energy agenda. The tax credits designed to propel this transformation are conditioned by confusing and incomplete Internal Revenue Service regulations that will make them difficult to use. Worse still, private clean energy developers must ensure that construction workers receive government-determined wages and comply with labor and national content requirements that are likely to delay projects, discourage small business participation and unnecessarily increase construction costs.
In addition, the Biden administration’s insistence on requiring union labor and directing federal and federally aided construction contracts to unionized contractors through mandatory labor agreements on the project will drive up costs. infrastructure projects from 12% to 20%. It will also exacerbate the skilled labor shortage in the construction industry of over half a million people by excluding the 88% of the construction industry who choose not to join a union. .
It’s the last thing Minnesotans need as they continue to face rising prices for food, energy, housing and just about everything else. All Americans deserve better.
Adam Hanson Eden Prairie
The author is Chapter President, Associated Builders and Contractors Minnesota/North Dakota.
Through the media, I have been informed of two significant environmental accidents near my home in central Minnesota in the past few weeks.
One, a BNSF train derails in Raymond, Minnesota (“The cleanup begins as stunned residents of Raymond return home after the derailment,” April 1.) BNSF notifies all immediately. Emergency is help notified, neighbors are notified, and a church in Prinsburg is helping those in need.
Two, a now 53-year-old Xcel-owned nuclear plant suddenly had 400,000 gallons water leak. The leak happened months ago.
I trust the BNSF. I don’t trust Xcel.
Following the fiery derailment of a BNSF train in Raymond, Minnesota, BNSF CEO Katie Farmer reassured us that “99.99%” of rail transport of toxic or flammable materials is carried out successfully. So 0.01% fail. What if another safety-conscious sector of the US economy, the airline industry, provided us with such soothing assurances? Around 612 million passengers fly annually on domestic flights, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. If 0.01% failed to reach their destination safely – and we know what the consequences are if flights fail – the annual death toll would be 60,000. Feel better?
Gregory B. Wright, Edina
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