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With so many touching and eloquent words written about Sid Hartman, I was going to just let mine pass, but reading Jeff Day’s touching piece in Friday’s paper really hit me hard (“I helped Sid keep up his column. He saved my life,” Oct. 23). Sid meant a lot to me personally, not for anything to do with sports, but for his relationship with his son Chad.

I discovered Sid 31 years ago when I moved to the Twin Cities and was a fan of his gruff exterior and his no-nonsense approach. I’ve always been a fan of major-market news talk radio, and in this town that means WCCO. I grew more and more fond of Sid and in particular Chad because of Sid’s work on ’CCO with Chad.

I lost my dad to a car accident 58 years ago when I was 14. My dad was a larger-than-life character much like Sid and through Chad and Sid I was transported back to my early life every time those two got together on Chad’s show. The love and respect for each other was palpable, and I never missed the opportunity to tune in and hear them together. Chad and Sid took me through what could have been my dad’s last few years, and as Sid slowly faded in the last couple of years, those shows meant more and more to me. As Sid aged beyond his ability to make it to the station, then beyond the phone, and finally to Chad taping with Sid and replaying the interview, I got to say goodbye slowly.

Day’s piece reminded me that unfortunately I’ve lost my dad again and for that I have no words. I’m simply thankful for the love Chad and Sid had for each other and for sharing that with me.

Jerry England, Shakopee

• • •

I’m not a regular reader of the sports page, but it’s the first section I have perused since Monday. One doesn’t have to be a sports fan to know about Sid, a Minnesota institution. I’ve smiled, laughed out loud and shed a tear as I’ve read the daily tributes.

Day’s piece was especially wonderful. Thanks so much to all the contributors for the memories.

Judy Nobles, West St. Paul

RACISM

On less-than-careful term usage

I guess we’ve all learned at this point that leveling a racist label on a comment made by anyone associated with city government is enough to get both headlines and heads rolling. Art Knight’s head is the latest, for opining that unless the Minneapolis Police Department changed its recruitment strategies, “you’re just going to get the same old white boys” (“Chief’s aide is demoted over ‘white boys’ remark,” front page, Oct. 21). Really? That’s racist? Calling Knight’s comment racist is just as ridiculous as calling the entire MPD racist and accusing it, in general, of being overly brutal. We can all make suppositions over the video we’ve seen a thousand times of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck. That it was brutal and performed in what appeared to be a nonchalant, cavalier manner seems self-evident, but that it was racist is really known only to Chauvin. Perhaps he would have treated anyone in that manner.

In today’s zeitgeist it’s not much of a stretch to realize that leveling the racist label on anyone is devastating. If it is true, so be it, but simply throwing out the accusation in a cavalier manner synonymous with Chauvin’s torturous kneel is reprehensible.

I don’t know Knight, never met him. I would probably agree that a change in strategy is needed to attract a more diverse group of applicants to the MPD. But, that issue probably runs deeper than just changing strategies. With the wave of generalized racist accusations made against police coming from City Council members and community leaders, one wonders if anyone in the Black community would want anything to do with the department. Who in their right mind would want to join up with a bunch of white racist cops? If the message young Black men and women are getting from their parents and the community is that the police are racist, how does the future racial makeup of the department change? Perhaps a little restraint by everyone involved would be a good place to start. If racism is substantiated after an unbiased investigation, then so be it, call it by its name, but let’s please use the term a bit more judiciously.

Richard Greelis, Bloomington

The writer is a retired police detective.

SOCIALISM

A reminder of its actual definition

And sure enough, there it was, “socialism” in the headline and the body of U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s Oct. 22 plea to First District voters (“Voters have a clear choice — socialism vs. freedom,” Opinion Exchange). But what appeared nowhere in his piece was a description of exactly what this dreaded socialism is and just exactly how it will deprive Minnesotans of their freedom.

We academics call this a “teachable moment,” an opportunity to correct an error in thinking or knowledge. So, what is socialism and who is actually a socialist? Spoiler alert: Nobody occupying or seriously running for higher office, including Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and certainly not Hagedorn’s opponent, is a socialist in any meaningful sense of the term. I’ll skip commentary on social safety nets and other manifestations of what is known as the welfare state, but those are not necessarily elements of socialism per se.

Here is an Economics 101 definition: Socialism is an economic system in which productive resources may be owned in common by identifiable groups, ranging from small agricultural cooperatives to entire nations (an example of government or “state socialism”). Ag co-ops are voluntary and enable individual farmers to attain benefits such as scale economies and bargaining power otherwise beyond their reach, but they still operate primarily in a market economy. Government enterprises at national, state and local levels provide societies with national defense, infrastructure systems and legal frameworks that private markets offer no incentives to produce.

In other cases, we rely on a combination of government and private provision for greater assurance of adequate availability. Those who would like to nudge the boundary slightly in the direction of more widely available health care through greater government support are more likely to be compassionate fellow citizens than wild-eyed socialists. Those who would like to see somewhat more private provision of, say, education, may not be so much saving the country from socialism as threatening to divert funding from serving young people whose educational opportunities are already at risk.

Can one find instances of pure government (state) socialism in Minnesota? You betcha. Two that come instantly to mind are municipal liquor stores and golf courses. But at least both of those are constrained by ample private-sector competition.

The fact is we are all beneficiaries of our mixed capitalist system, relying on private enterprise and markets where they work well, and ready to support some degree of intervention — co-ops, fire departments and airports — where private provision and markets could be improved upon. Can we stop the irresponsible use of scarewords (and I’m talking to you, headline writers) and discuss issues on their merits?

Charles M. Gray, Minneapolis

THE DEBATE

The coming energy shift is doable

With fewer interruptions from President Donald Trump last night, Joe Biden might have pointed out that America knows about energy transitions and consequent job shifts because we’ve been through them before (“Final arguments on virus, race, jobs,” front page, Oct. 23). They happen because innovators perfect a better/cheaper energy source.

The significant American whaling oil industry transitioned and ended due to the growing use of petroleum. The coal industry is dramatically shrinking today because cheaper natural gas plants are a better way to generate electricity.

And in some parts of the country we are seeing the gas-to-wind transition, where it’s cheaper to generate electricity from wind than from gas.

As the saying goes: The Stone Age did not end because of a lack of stones.

Philipp Muessig, Minneapolis

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