The recent court ruling to halt Minneapolis' 2040 Plan is a step backward for our efforts to address climate change ("Four Mpls. projects on hold after judge halts 2040 Plan," June 18). Shockingly, the plaintiffs pushing us into climate denial with this lawsuit are ones who claim to be advocating for the environment. This gross dereliction of duty warrants a closer look at the 2040 Plan they've unraveled and the harm they've done this past week to our air, water, natural environment and our future.
To put Minneapolis on a climate-friendly path, the 2040 Plan adjusted our building plans to encourage more walkable neighborhoods, more housing near transit and more types of housing density. Around the world these are widely accepted solutions to decarbonizing city life. The thinking is straightforward; building a city where walking, taking transit and biking are accessible will make a low-carbon lifestyle more convenient and more affordable. Higher housing density correlates with lower carbon footprints. Getting by without a car in my neighborhood (Whittier) is quite easy thanks to transit, good walkability and relatively high housing density. As a result, folks living on my block probably have some of the lowest carbon footprints in Minnesota.
The 2040 Plan aims to replicate these successes by encouraging the construction of homes and neighborhoods that make low-carbon lifestyles possible. Unfortunately, the so-called "environmentalists" who halted the 2040 Plan with a frivolous lawsuit now join the rank of climate deniers and fossil-fuel advocates who hold no interest in addressing the risks that climate change poses to Minnesota.
Danny Villars, Minneapolis
I want to thank Carol Becker for her very honest commentary on the 2040 Plan, clarifying that her panic is mainly about "protecting … our most valuable tool for wealth-building, our single-family homes" ("A funny thing happened on the way to 2040," Opinion Exchange, June 21). Personally, I think we should have enough homes for everyone to live in, instead of deliberately making them scarce so that homeowners can make more money off of them. If I felt otherwise, I certainly wouldn't demand the city guarantee scarcity on a human necessity and then call it "equity" or "economic justice," as her commentary does.
But let's be realistic about our zoning plan: Even with Minneapolis setting a housing-construction record in 2019, and even with rents stabilizing, single-family home prices have gone up an absurd 30% in the four years since the plan took effect. So honestly, Carol, how much home profit is enough for you to let other people have a place to live?
Noa K. Levi, Minneapolis
Make well Putin's soul, you mean?
In his commentary on June 21, Prof. Thomas Blaha suggests that the West's behavior toward Russia such as the expansion of NATO has made Russian feel humiliated ("To make peace, make well the wounded Russian soul," Opinion Exchange). By offering Russia incentives such as eventual entry back into Western institutions (such as the G-7), he believes we can mitigate that humiliation and make progress toward peace in Ukraine. That seems naive.
If Russia were interested in reintegrating with the West, Blaha's suggestion might work. And, I certainly believe a reintegration of Russia into Western institutions would benefit the people of Russia and the West. But the interests of its people is not what drives Russia under President Vladimir Putin.
In fact, the real cause of the war is not the humiliation that Russians feel vis-à-vis the West. It is also not the military challenge that NATO or Ukraine posed. Rather, the cause is that any Ukrainian success in establishing a functioning democratic, market-oriented state in a former part of the Soviet Union is a direct challenge to Putin. His crony capitalist, authoritarian regime is what has ensured Putin's wealth and nearly unparalleled power. Quite simply, Putin wants to maintain that regime because it works well for him.
Therefore, Putin has little interest in joining the West. Instead he wants to "offer" (or when possible impose on others) a competing model that fundamentally is unfree and with him as its unchallenged leader.
Given this, there is no easy route to stop the horrors of this war. The best thing the U.S. can do is to continue to support Ukraine over the long-term. If the Ukrainians still have the will to fight (and it certainly seems they do) and Russia remains aggressive, that support may have to last decades.
Our goal should not be the humiliation of Russia and its people. It shouldn't even be the toppling of Putin. Instead we want the average Russian to feel the futility of this war of aggression. Only then will peace be possible in Ukraine.
John Lampe, St. Paul
I agree with all letters sent in commenting on Blaha's commentary in the Star Tribune. I was born before the Second World War and lived for five years under German occupation — four with German navy officers living in our house! First off, Blaha never refers to the fact that Russia attacked Poland in 1939 from the East about one month after Germany did so from the West. What a sad thing ... it really affected the souls of the Russian people!
After the war ended in Europe in May 1945, the Russians occupied Eastern Europe. All of saved Western Europe except for western Germany was returned to the original occupants and West Germany was created as a "new" country! On the Eastern side those poor Russian souls kept controlling countries from Eastern Germany to the Urals … until Mikhail Gorbachev knocked over the wall in 1989.
Now Blaha looks for some form of lenient behavior to soften the blow to the Russian soul and ego! Rather, he should hope that the Russian soul and people have the heart to muster the democratic strength to dispose of the tyrant who presently is sending more good Russians to kill good Ukrainians. Blaha should talk to Poles, Latvians, Estonians, Lithuanians, Romanians, Yugoslavs (as they used to be called), Georgians, Moldovans, etc., to learn how they feel about that poor Russian soul!
Marnix L.K. Guillaume, Wayzata
STATE TAX REBATE
Tempting, but self-defeating
Following the distribution of trillions of dollars in federal stimulus, the last thing citizens of the state need is another $1,000 or $2,000 in tax rebate from the state ("Rebate checks, tax cuts, both? Walz and GOP are at odds," June 23). We are currently experiencing over 8% year-over-year inflation (which I predicted) and that is going to remain at the same elevated levels for several more months. The dumping of more funds into citizens hands (with no offsetting productivity increase) is the very definition of inflation. Here is why this is a bad idea:
The trillions of dollars of federal stimulus are simply the result of printing money and distributing it to the public. Again, this is the very definition of inflation. The resulting inflation we are seeing now is causing price increases that will not go away — even if inflation rates return to around 2%. The population, in general, will experience something around 8% increase and their only offset is to have their base salary increase by at least that amount. We all know that this is not going to happen, and the result is that all those who received the federal stimulus checks will be worse off than before the pandemic began. We are seeing that right now and that disparity between inflation rates and salary will continue indefinitely. Distributing tax rebate checks will exasperate this problem with a corresponding negative impact to the general population. This is the exact opposite of what this "relief" is supposed to do.
No one wants to turn away "free" money, but, I promise, this will do you more harm than good. Tell the governor to repurpose this funding for something with a better return.
Robert Dufek, Eagan