The Week in Commentary
Postgame analysis: How a rich guy got the taxpayers to give him millions against their will
Sen. John Marty offers his perspective on the Vikings' successful bid for a publically supported stadium.
"Team owner Zygi Wilf ... got an astounding amount of money from taxpayers, while convincing politicians and some fans that he was doing them a favor. ...
"Data from the Senate Fiscal Analysis Office shows, under the final legislation, that the taxpayer 'investment' in the Vikings stadium breaks down to a $72 public subsidy for every ticket, to every game -- including preseason ones -- for the next 30 years.
"And this calculation doesn't include the granting of a property tax exemption for the stadium. Counting that, the subsidy climbs to over $110 per ticket. ...
"Yes, Minnesota has an urgent need to create more building trades jobs, but we would create far more jobs using public dollars to fix our public infrastructure, such as the numerous public schools in Minneapolis that are several times as old as the Metrodome and in much worse shape. ...
"Almost two of every three Minneapolis school students come from low-income families struggling to pay for food and other necessities. It's time we rethink our priorities."
"'Almost two of every three Minneapolis school students come from low-income families struggling to pay for food and other necessities. It's time we rethink our priorities.' That last statement says it all. Thank you, Sen. Marty, for seeing through all the smoke and mirrors. I wish all our representatives and senators had seen through it, too." -- Jamila Hakam, Minneapolis
"Please define what you are stating to be 'low-income.' I make $35k and pay my bills just fine, and support the Vikings stadium. ... Thank you to all the politicians that realized 'low-income' families want to have entertainment with their hard earned dollars." -- Eric Peterson
"I couldn't agree more that Minneapolis schools are crumbling, and that there are long lists of other projects that deserved to be funded before the Vikings stadium. As for me, I will be certain to be quite vocal to any politician who says in the future that, 'we can't do that due to lack of funds.' My response will always be, 'You gave public handouts to a billionaire so that he could add to his riches, don't tell me you don't have money.' I hope that all other stadium opponents will do the same." -- J Fieldler, Minneapolis
I respect Sen. Marty's position but he does not appear to respect the majority of Minnesotans (based on polling conducted during the stadium debate) who wanted to build the stadium. The market for NFL teams is what it is. The choice was whether this state wanted to retain an NFL team, and its status as a major league American city." -- J. Goodnow, Minneapolis
In fight against childhood obesity, healthy choices are better than harsh rules
Sarah Lemanczyk, a mother as well as a writer and independent radio producer, ponders the best ways to help children adopt good eating habits.
"It was my son's birthday. Following 21st century birthday protocol, we went to the grocery store to pick out a non-homemade, individually wrapped, peanut- and soy-nut-free, non-sugar snack to share with his first-grade classmates. He chose mini-carrots. And he was excited about it. ...
"Yes, we are fat and getting fatter, and as a nation we're facing an obesity epidemic that puts our children's very lives at risk. In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is responding to the threat with a ban on the sale of large-size sugary drinks in restaurants and movie theaters. Elsewhere, elementary schools are the first line of defense. ...
"So, as 100-percent fruit juice, cupcakes and candy corn form an axis of evil, we muster a coalition of raisins, mini-carrots and water to battle against it. Listen, I know cupcakes have consequences. But merely branding foods as good or bad isn't going to teach our children about self-control, moderation or health. ... We need to teach them to respect the food they're putting in their bodies, not fear it."
"What Ms. Lemanczyk fails to realize is that those who eat unhealthy or take on risky habits tend to die earlier. That's more Social Security money for the people who eat healthy, exercise and have non-risky habits." -- Rich Schulze, Minnesota
Those who oppose assisted suicide depend on illusions
Robert Pieh, a recent college graduate with work experience in a nursing home, argues that Minnesota's law against assisted suicide does not serve the interests of those it is intended to protect.
"The prolonging of life often supersedes the fulfillment of life. When there isn't the possibility of the latter, there is no reason for the former. Doreen Dunn, who experienced chronic and debilitating pain for nearly 16 years, was free to decide whether or not this was the case for herself.
"The last line of her physician's note reveals the nonphysical realm of pain in which Doreen's condition had placed her. It reads, 'This pain also prevents any social life.' The brevity of this statement should not undermine its importance. It is not only physical pain that pushes suffering people to euthanasia. ...
"I worked at a nursing home during high school. For several residents, the home functioned as an unofficial hospice. My most vivid memory from the time is that of a tiny, skeletal woman in a wheelchair, pushing uselessly against the colossal double doors that led to the exit. When I asked her what I could help her with, she replied in a whisper, 'Let me out. Please. Let me out. I won't tell anyone.' ... The woman's tone was desperate, tired and sincere. She had had enough and she wanted out.
"Opponents of euthanasia would do well to spend some time in an end-of-life care center or hospital."
"The right to die quickly becomes the duty to die. Everywhere where assisted suicide is legalized, it quickly descends to involuntary euthanasia. As soon as the principle that there is life not worthy of life is established, the elderly feel a coercive pressure of having a duty to die." -- Robert Colquhoun, London, Ala.
"Nonsense. In saying the elderly will feel a coercive pressure to die, you are denying the common human experience we all live every day. Nobody wants to die except those who are in such misery that death is a better option." -- Robert Rivas, Tallahassee, Fla.
"Data belie the anti-euthanasia critics and the notion that the elderly feel a coercive pressure to die. The elderly are among the fastest-growing segments of the population and the highest suicide rates are among 16- to 20-year-olds. Additionally, in those states where assisted suicide is legal, there has not been an increase in the annual mortality rates. It is too bad that religious dogma gets in the way of critical thinking and free choice." -- Rosalie Guttman, Chicago
"For some there really does comes a time when the pain is unbearable or when the very reason for living has been lost. I saw the latter with my father who couldn't wait to die after he lost my mother. As a 90+ year old, I can see the time in the near future when my life will no longer be worth living either because of pain or the inability to live a meaningful life. I am grateful to the Final Exit Network that I will not have to put up with the horrors of a miserable old age and the distress it could cause my children." -- Bob Levine, Princeton, N.J.
"At least half of my disabled friends have had the experience of being asked, encouraged, pestered, or even coerced to 'give up' and refuse treatment, sign 'do not resuscitate' orders, or otherwise check out. The example you give of an inaccessible door in a nursing home is illustrative of the discrimination and neglect faced by elders and people with disabilities, not a reason to die. The failure of a doctor to properly care for pain is not a reason to kill oneself, it's a reason to fight for better care." -- Amy Hasbrouck, Valleyfield, Quebec
"There is a big difference between DNR orders (which simply mean no extraordinary measures to prolong suffering) and assisted suicide. My father had the opposite experience — about half a dozen people double-checking his own DNR request, and he made his own choice (at 91) to go gently — with control of pain and without continuing the weekly, exhausting and fruitless return trips to the emergency room that his doctors said could keep him going. He didn't see the point." -- Donald Larsson, Bloomington
'Push Girls' takes disabled people out of their usual TV roles
Haddayr Copley-Woods, a copywriter and blogger who uses a wheelchair, welcomes a reality TV show about people with disabilities.
"Disabled people on TV have a very specific job: to make able-bodied people feel good about themselves. ... Enter 'Push Girls.'
"Sure, it's reality TV ... But you should watch it anyway, because it goes directly against the Very Special Episode grain. ... It covers real issues: like trying to live on Social Security. Needing more care than insurance will cover. Looking for a job.
"Angela's experience in this is particularly painful for me to watch, because it is so familiar. A professional model before her accident, she calls agent after agent looking for new representation with no luck. One even says baldly: 'I can't think of much advertising featuring models in wheelchairs.' She hires a photographer to do head shots for her, but he physically recoils when she has leg spasms. He later compares this gorgeous woman's modeling efforts to those of an armless man who wants to pitch.
"Angela's deep anger, even while politely, anxiously trying to educate this freaked-out jerk, rang very true to me. It's important for able-bodied people to see scenes like this. For us gimps, it is astounding to see these familiar moments play out on the screen."
A radio host born to the dark night of the soul
Neal Karlen, a Twin Cities author, recalls his experiences with the late talk-radio personality Dark Star.
"Dark, who allegedly got his nom de plume while moonlighting as a horseracing handicapper in Los Angeles, lived his life as if it were a half-century earlier, when true local characters were given their due and not reduced to the status of anachronistic cartoon characters.
"Dark lived with rolls of cash falling out of his pockets, with which he'd often treat young know-nothing midnight DJs to late-night pizzas; with a devotion to slaughterhouse cuts of blood red fatty meat and great vats of whole butter, and with a religious aversion to exercise of any kind. When he shot golf with Twins Manager Tom Kelly, Dark proudly rode a cart while TK walked. ...
"The answer to the dilemma of late night radio, he said, was to engage in unremitting bull excrement with the audience, trusting your gut no matter what came out. No one could famously fling the falsehoods like Dark, be it about a featherweight boxer, or why it was time for a granny in Cedar Falls to fall asleep, or a rain pattern ostensibly developing over Butte, Mont., that Dark saw only in the theater of his own mind.
"'Just kill the time, baby,' he'd say to me, 'before the time kills you.'"
"I didn't know Dark Star or follow his act, but a man who so vigorously surrounds himself with others may be carrying the worst kind of lonely." -- Charlie Quimby