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Today's big companies weren't always that way

John H. Bunzel ("Small business is getting a tad too much love," July 16) brings up some excellent points but fails to mention some glaring reasons why supporting small business is still important.

As growth and jobs must come from corporate heavyweights if we are to come out of economic stagnation, we must remember that many of the giants in our stock portfolios were once small businesses. Companies like Google, Apple and Facebook have become major economic drivers, but it wasn't that long ago that they were simply pipe dreams in someone's garage or dorm room.

While Bunzel's analysis is correct, we must continue to support small businesses -- not because Thomas Jefferson had affection for them, but because the next Google is just beyond the horizon.


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It is obvious that John Kass, like so many other conservative pundits, has distorted President's Obama's message about the role of government in helping business owners ("People, not government, make America's wheels move," July 20).

I listened to the president's speech in its entirety, and I have a very different take on what Mr. Obama was saying. Like Kass, I had a father who worked 60-plus hours a week in a grocery store, six days a week, for 40 years. And he never took a dime from the government in assistance. But, unlike Kass, I didn't grow up with a chip on my shoulder about the role of government in people's lives.

Obama was making the point that very few of us are truly "self-made men (or women)." If you own a business and you have good employees, you have likely benefited indirectly from the public education system that developed at least some of them.

If you ship goods or delivery services, you have used roads and bridges that were built with government assistance. If you sign contracts with other companies or with your staff, or if you've developed or licensed patented products, you've benefited from a system of laws that make such contracts legal and binding.

These examples point out the beauty of the American system, and that is the point Obama was trying to make.


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North Minneapolis

The move is on toward self-sufficiency

The July 17 article "On North Side, two-thirds count on aid" did an excellent job of bringing to light a situation that far too many of us would prefer to ignore. The interviews with young women who have experienced the deep poverty that dependence on public assistance produces provided a glimpse into a system that has trapped far too many of our brothers and sisters in lives that offer little hope for prosperity or self-sufficiency.

What is so tragic is that these same stories could be told over and over again by many North Side residents. Thousands of them, in fact. What is so tragic is that in a city that prides itself on the strength of its economy and the breadth of its opportunities, there is still a cluster of neighborhoods where 68 percent are still poor enough to qualify for public assistance.

But the good news is that something new is happening in north Minneapolis, and it includes a remarkable group of dedicated community leaders committed to making a difference.

The Northside Community Response Team, an exciting collaboration of community-based organizations that includes the Minneapolis Urban League, Turning Point, Emerge, Urban HomeWorks, Sanctuary CDC, North Point, the NAACP and Summit Academy OIC, has been working with Hennepin County officials to develop new ideas that will encourage and support North Side residents in their effort to leave the burden of dependency behind in favor of self-sufficiency and personal economic power.


The writer is president of Summit Academy OIC.

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She seems intelligent, so keep an open mind

I have never met U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, but she strikes me as someone who is smart and informed and who, unlike many politically correct politicians (and people), will speak up. So my first reaction to her comment about the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrating the federal government and working for America's demise was not: "Oh, shame on her! How dare she?" No, I was thinking: "Oh, I sure hope she is wrong. But what if she is right?" Regardless of whether the Muslim Brotherhood is or is not America's demise, there is little doubt that we Americans will be our own demise with our political correctness and name-bashing of those who may actually have valid concerns and warnings.


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Pickleball event

All senior sports should get paper's attention

You missed the boat, Star Tribune, when you failed to include enough coverage of pickleball in your special section on senior sports (July 18). We've got a Pickleball Club with more than 120 members and play seven days a week at Shawnee Park in Woodbury. Most of our members brought the game here from winter spots in Arizona and Florida. The game, which is similar to tennis but uses a plastic ball and wooden paddles, is being played on converted tennis courts all over the Twin Cities.


The writer is on the board of directors of Woodbury Pickleball Club.