Letters Jan. 13, 2022

Words matter

Lots of simple words of everyday use have such complex or convoluted definitions that average people don’t use the words, or misunderstand them.  I still remember being required to memorize the definition of a “limit” in an early calculus class.  I memorized it, but didn’t understand it.

Capitalism is a similar word: a proper definition of capitalism would sound like something lawyers draw up.  But a simple “street” definition would do just as well for most of us: capitalism is a philosophy where people look for ways to grab as many dollars as they can, which means by any means available. The only limits are limits society sets up through governments, and limits of their own power. 

For example, they’re not allowed to use a gun and robbery. But they can kill people in other ways to get more money, until government limits them.

Capitalism freely, knowingly and without reservation killed people using tobacco. They did whatever they could think of to get more money, more than anyone could actually need.  Capitalism did this until hampered by government to at least not target children. (I’ve been told tobacco still operates because they’ve been held accountable for billions of dollars to reimburse states for tobacco-related health care costs. The only way tobacco companies could ever pay these penalties is to raise money by selling more tobacco! Or, repossess the profits of those who gained from selling tobacco. But we “Americans” honor greed too much to do that.)

Child labor was another area where capitalism exploited and killed for profit until limited by government.

Today capitalism cries out to ignore the obvious signs and scientific knowledge concerning coronavirus. Make people mingle and work even if they’re killed, for profits for others.

Of course, if you can destroy governments, you destroy limits.

A. Martin
Merrifield, Minnesota

Media emotionalism

Media emotionalism is exhausting us: POLITICS!  COVID!  CLIMATE CHANGE!  It can be argued that POLITICS  “ … is the human race’s most magnificent achievement  …  politics is good even when it is bad  …  because the only alternative is force – and somebody gets hurt.” (Robert A. Heinlein: Podkayne of Mars, 1963).  We need politics in our searches for solutions.

We’d love to be rid of COVID as soon as possible, like yesterday!  Agreed? We have a real hope of getting there within the next year or two with a concerted collective effort.

CLIMATE CHANGE is the real challenge. It can’t be solved in a year or two and its consequences are very serious. My point is that we need to use our politics constructively to put a full court press on climate change … and media emotionalism isn’t helping.

Every day we are cornered by emotional headlines everywhere we turn.  The focus on emotion by news outlets, internet and social media is obscuring our view of the factual world in which we live. Controversy sells! Constructive dialogue is not attention grabbing, but it is what we need at this point in our history.

Indulging in the media’s offerings?  Take care to check out many different sources from various perspectives before deciding who is manipulating our emotions, and who is presenting useful information. 

To deal with the oncoming rush of serious climate challenges we will need to have our facts straight, and get on the same page. If we think COVID has been rough, we have to understand that climate change unchecked will be much worse.

Sorry. Taking in that fact may stir some emotions. Increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane generated by our current global civilization are upsetting the Earth’s heat balance. More solar energy into Earth than our atmosphere will allow to be transferred back out into space means more energy in the atmosphere. More energy in the atmosphere means more climate change destructiveness. It’s a fact that the heat balance of the satellite is crucial, and our satellite (in orbit about the sun) is Earth.

Small personal steps count when there are 8 billion people taking them: every tree planted, every gallon of heating oil, gas, propane or chunk of coal saved, every bite of veg instead of meat, every bit of carbon sequestered in the new cements and steels, and biochar for farm fields. They all count.  We all count.

 George Einar Busséy
Town of White River, Wisconsin

Stop tailgating!

It’s supposed to be against the law. It’s not just Minnesota. It’s also Wisconsin. There isn’t a day that I do get out there and people never learn that you can’t stop on a dime. They are so close to an accident, they must have got their license from a Cracker Jack box.

They are in such a hurry! We need a new vehicle with a “Get Off My Ass” button. If that doesn’t work, get their license if possible and turn them in.

I’ve pulled over so many times to avoid an accident. Use unmarked cars and pull them over. Give hefty fines.

We will have enough money to fix all the roads in no time at all.

Sue Fornengo
Superior, Wisconsin