The Star Tribune accurately reported the score of the girls’ lacrosse game between Prior Lake-Savage and the Blake School on May 23. But the best of that event happened before the game clock even started. The weekend rains had stopped. It was a cool afternoon, mostly sunny, but a great day by Minnesota standards. The girls had warmed up to peppy music. They were introduced one by one as they came onto the field and shook hands with an opponent. They stood in single file while the public address announcer asked the fans to stand and remove their hats and face the flag during the national anthem. Then nothing. Silence, total silence. Technical difficulties resulted in no anthem being played. Then after about a minute, the girls on the field began singing the anthem as the crowd joined in. We ended with applause and smiles knowing that we had just witnessed something unusual. But was it really unusual? Given the same circumstance, I believe most Minnesota schools would have responded similarly. I have great confidence and optimism in this younger generation. They insure our future. Remember that Memorial Day is not just a day off work. Remember that the anthem is not just a song. Remember to fly the flag. Remember the past and believe in our well-educated Minnesotans to lead us.
John Tetzloff, Prior Lake
Leaks are inevitable, and Dakota Access is Exhibit A
They are just little leaks in the Dakota Access pipeline (May 23). Little more than 100 gallons — nothing to get excited about. Really?
The pipeline leaked, because that’s what pipelines do. Despite government and industry’s promises, spills are inevitable; and whether tiny or catastrophic, they can be difficult or impossible to clean up. From 2006 to 2016, there were 3,032 “significant” pipeline spills reported. Their cost, insofar as cost can be measured in dollars, was $4.7 billion.
In December 2016, a pipeline leaked 176,000 gallons of crude oil into a creek in western North Dakota only 150 miles from the Dakota Access pipeline protests. This is what the Standing Rock Sioux fear will happen if Dakota Access passes through tribal land and under the Missouri River. Sunoco Logistics, the Energy Transfer Partners subsidiary that would operate the pipeline, had 274 hazardous material leaks in 2006-2016, more than any other company.
Yet while the risks and hazards of transporting petroleum are unacceptable, the consequences of burning it are worse. Burning fossil fuels is bringing runaway climate change closer to reality. The only sensible course is to establish a price on carbon, switch to clean energy as rapidly as possible, stop producing new gas and oil fields, and stop building the pipelines that encourage petroleum production. The unthinkable alternative is destruction of an environment and climate that can support us.
Carol Steinhart, Madison, Wis.
FEDERAL TAX REFORM
Border-adjustment taxes — we’ve been here before
I realize an undergraduate degree in economics doesn’t make me an expert on international trade and “border-adjustment taxes,” but any of us can read history and discover that the U.S. has been through this process before — with disastrous results.
Running for president in 1928, Herbert Hoover promised Midwest farmers relief from foreign competition by raising tariffs on agricultural products. He was elected with Republican majorities in both houses. When Congress offered a bill to raise tariffs, called the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act in 1929, more than 1,000 economists opposed it. President Hoover had second thoughts, but in the end agreed with his party and signed the bill that raised tariffs on agricultural and industrial products alike — in an effort to protect and promote American business.
The results were disastrous. Canada and several other countries, including Great Britain, France and Germany, all retaliated with their own tariffs. From 1929 to 1933, American imports fell 66 percent and exports fell 61 percent. Our former trading partners shifted their trade to other countries at America’s loss; the dollar didn’t rise to compensate for the increased cost of imported goods (as is predicted by proponents of today’s border-adjustment tax), and most historians agree that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act exacerbated the Great Depression.
By 1934, President Franklin Roosevelt had new legislation which granted the U.S. the right to reduce tariffs — which it did.
Let’s not repeat the mistakes of our past. Today, we are even more interlocked with hundreds of other countries in foreign trade. If the border-adjustment tax passes and our imports/exports drop as they did in 1930, it means many of the products we buy today, like our electronic tools, will be more expensive. Sales of our manufactured products will fall as other countries erect their own tariffs. Rather than increasing jobs and production here, the tax will depress both. And if imports drop as much as 66 percent, the tax the proponents hope to collect will only be a fraction of what they predict. The results of a border-adjustment tax will be even worse this time around.
Colin Nelson, Edina
Business Forum column was wrong about Wells Fargo
In his May 22 Business Forum commentary “Severance pay a misguided mess,” Marshall H. Tanick erroneously cites Wells Fargo as an example of large severance payments for departing executives. The article references “packages in excess of $200 million that the chieftains received upon their departure from Wells Fargo by former Chairman and CEO John Stumpf, a Minnesota native, and Carrie Tolstedt, one of his top lieutenants.”
In fact, neither Mr. Stumpf nor Ms. Tolstedt received any severance payments upon leaving Wells Fargo. Moreover, they were required to forfeit nearly $140 million in previously earned compensation — one of the largest clawbacks in U.S. corporate history — reflecting their accountability for the sales practices problem at the company. While I don’t necessarily quarrel with Mr. Tanick’s criticism of large severance payments for departing executives, I can assure him and Star Tribune readers that Wells Fargo is not an example of that practice.
Stephen W. Sanger; chairman, Wells Fargo & Co.
STATE OF MINNEAPOLIS
Words don’t fix problems
In her State of the City address, Mayor Betsy Hodges proclaimed: “Minneapolis, our shell is cracked. And from that will come the full flower of our potential.” Flowery rhetoric, to be sure, but I would advise the mayor to focus her attention on addressing more practical matters — such as the cracks on our sidewalks and the potholes in our streets. That is the type of “change” that “works for everybody.”
Jack Uldrich, Minneapolis
‘SURGE OF PROFANITY’
Mr. Kroshus and Alice Cooper
Reading the May 24 commentary on the “surge of profanity in public life” brought back two old memories for me. The first was the sign my high school math teacher, Mr. Kroshus, had on his desk back in the 1970s. It read: “Profanity Makes Ignorance Audible.” The second was a quote from Alice Cooper on writing song lyrics: “Hell is a place. Damn is what gets you there. If you have to use more colorful language, you don’t have anything worth listening to.”
Tom Mobeck, Chaska