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NORTHWEST AND DELTA

CEOspeak, translated

Delta CEO Richard Anderson and Northwest CEO Doug Steenland indicated that by keeping major operations here, they hope to remain in compliance with the 'spirit' of loan covenants that Northwest previously signed with the state of Minnesota for a $245 million loan" (Star Tribune, April 18).

As the old saying goes: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

HELEN L. KLANDERUD, BLOOMINGTON

You call that a deal?

How stupid do the CEOs and the Star Tribune think people here are? To report that for excusing the $245 million owed the state, Delta will keep its flight crews based here and that the Minneapolis and Chisholm call centers will remain along with training and maintenance centers and airport operations is ridiculous.

"You're not going to move functions unless it makes sense to move functions" (Richard Anderson) is the same as saying that the hub is important at the moment but may not be at a later date so we'll close it. So Delta will keep flight crews here? Yeah. Just like flight crews based in Atlanta generally live in Atlanta and crews based in Cincinnati generally live in Cincinnati! That's not giving anything to the state.

Airport operations will remain here? To where would operations for a Minnesota airport move otherwise? Georgia? And considering Delta doesn't fly the same aircraft as NWA, it makes sense, at the moment, to keep the training and maintenance centers where the planes are. It's cheaper for Delta!

Delta isn't giving anything in return for the state to excuse that $245 million. How stupid do the leaders think Minnesotans and Star Tribune readers are?

BOB THAMAN, MINNETONKA

ECONOMIC HARDSHIP, 2008

Yes, it's relative

I rarely read more than one or two paragraphs of Katherine Kersten's column. By then I am so disgusted by her agenda that I have to move on. However, there are exceptions, and her April 16 column was one.

She wrote that her dad sent her mom a picture of a garage and said, as a joke, that this was their new home. Imagine her mother's surprise and delight when they actually bought an 850-square-foot starter home. Today's buyers of starter homes require an 850-square-foot garage. Kersten also hit the nail on the head when she said, "Minnesotans with memories such as hers remind us that hardship is relative."

How difficult it must be to dazzle people today. Unfortunately our values-warped society has come to expect this.

BRIAN K. TOREN, PRIOR LAKE

Consider the wage gap

Katherine Kersten makes a good point about individual effort in her April 16 column; however, she omits the context.

In 1948, her father earned something like $1,500 a year; he bought a very small house. The president of the company where he worked probably earned about $20,000.

Today a person starting out might earn $25,000 and the president of the company would receive a salary in the millions. The beginner could not afford a starter home.

In the early 1950s, the federal income-tax brackets topped off at 90 percent. Today taxes max at a little more than one third of that.

Perhaps there would be a feeling of shared sacrifice if salaries were more in balance. Perhaps income taxes should keep salaries in accord with actual earnings.

DAVID GRONBECK, MINNEAPOLIS

SMALL HEALTH-PLAN LOSSES

Tiny premium hikes

Your lead article on health plans posting operating losses (Business, April 18) is very perplexing. It sounds like they have a problem, but if you look at the numbers, they are doing very well.

They are supposed to be nonprofit. An operating loss of $71 million against gross revenue if $15.7 billion is less than one half of 1 percent, That's pretty close to exactly where they should be, i.e., zero.

That in no way justifies a 10 percent premium increase, which would increase revenue by $1.57 billion. A half-percent increase ought to just about do it.

BARBARA MASLER, NEW HOPE

CANDIDATES MISSPEAK

And they should forgive

I listened to Wednesday's debate between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and was struck by Clinton's comments regarding her Bosnia gaffe.

She explained that in the course of constantly talking (and in need of some rest) she made a very human mistake in saying something she knew wasn't right.

Well, then, shouldn't that apply just as well to Obama's bad choice of words last weekend? Or does Clinton demand higher standards of others than she does of herself?

JEFFREY DAVIS, ST. PAUL

TAX DAY

A time to reflect

AOL was kind enough the day after I paid my taxes to tell me where my tax dollars are going:

Of each tax dollar, 42.2 cents goes to the military, 22.1 cents to health care, 10.2 cents to nonmilitary interests, 8.7 cents to antipoverty efforts, 4.4 cents to education and social services, 3.9 cents to government and law enforcement, 3.3 cents housing and community development, 2.6 cents to environment, energy and science, 1.5 cents to transportation, commerce and agriculture, and 1 cent to internal affairs.

Is it any wonder why our roads are in such a state and our schools are suffering so much? Folks, we need to reorganize our priorities.

JAMES BORES, BLOOMINGTON