Readers Write: Inflation, animal welfare, Mozart's wealth, health care

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Opinion editor’s note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.

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I keep hearing the news media talk about the worst inflation in 40 years, but I disagree with the figures it presents us. Outlets talk of inflation in the neighborhood of 8 to 9%. Which is bad. But in actuality, it is much worse than that. Consider: Dollar Tree stores, which used to sell everything for a buck, have now increased almost all items to a $1.25. That, folks, is a 25% increase. And even Walmart, which claims its sales are down, have increase some items by as much as 50%! And last winter my home heating costs doubled from the year before! That’s a heck of a lot more than 8 to 9%. God only knows what this winter will bring. It’s certainly not going to get any better. And while the cost of gasoline dropped some in the past few weeks, it is still up from a year ago.

I don’t know where these so-called experts come up with the 8 to 9% increase in inflation or the worst inflation in 40 years, because what I’m seeing is the worst inflation increase in the history of this country. And it is hitting the heck out of us folks on fixed incomes. President Joe Biden can’t take all the blame, but he certainly is a huge contributing factor. Wish we had a time machine and could push things ahead to 2024.

Tom R. Kovach, Nevis, Minn.

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Biden is breaking a lot of records, but they are all bad ones. His age and gaffes are not the primary cause. Biden’s policies do not work. His rapid transition away from fossil fuels without adequate green replacements is causing record-breaking gasoline and energy prices. His border policies allow record numbers of migrants to cross the border and cause record numbers of fentanyl deaths. His economic policies cause record inflation and his proposed solutions would make inflation worse. Record numbers of crimes are being committed due to ineffective law enforcement policies of Biden and Democrats at other levels of government. And appropriately, Biden’s approval rating is at a record low.

Dennis A. Helander, White Bear Lake

ANIMALS

As an animal advocate, I was disappointed to read the article “Kangaroos and kinkajous await you” (July 23) promoting Sustainable Safari, an indoor exotic animal petting zoo located at the Maplewood Mall.

The owner claimed he only acquires animals from facilities that are licensed by the USDA. In 2021, the USDA inspected and reprimanded Sustainable Safari for obtaining animals from an unlicensed source. The owner also stated that the animals are acquired as babies. Professionally run zoos do not pull newborns from their mothers to facilitate public handling because the practice is plagued with problems. It denies baby animals of proper nutrition and maternal care, leads to physical ailments and behavioral abnormalities, causes a great deal of grief to the fiercely protective mother, and subjects infant animals with weak immune systems to stressful conditions.

Close encounters with wild animals do not promote conservation. Studies confirm that these public interactions mislead people into believing that certain species are not endangered or threatened in the wild. And it inspires people, who are most often unqualified, to obtain exotic animals as pets. It is also troubling that Sustainable Safari is offering public handling of species susceptible to COVID, despite warnings from the USDA that the practice should be discontinued.

Those who care about animals should avoid going to Sustainable Safari and similar attractions that allow the public to handle wild animals.

Megan Helling, Lino Lakes

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The reported disapproving public response to biologist Wojciech Solarz in Poland classifying the domestic cat as an invasive species responsible for the death of an estimated 140 million birds in his country every year is a sentiment echoing here in the U.S. by cat owners who let their cats roam free (“Cats, an alien invasive species?” July 27). In the U.S., free-ranging domestic cats kill an estimated 1.3 to 4.0 billion birds and 6.3 – 22.3 billion mammals annually. Cats compete with indigenous wild carnivores, including raptors, for prey and can spread diseases to them and bring home diseases from them as well as from the prey they consume.

As a veterinarian, I am concerned about the health and welfare of cats who are not kept exclusively in-home; about their impact on declining wildlife populations and about the many diseases that cats can transmit to humans.

I am also concerned about the evident lack of civic responsibility and municipal legislation applying the same principles of containment of owned cats as are applied to owned dogs. Adding to this problem in many communities in Minnesota are organizations releasing neutered and short-term anti-rabies vaccinated cats considered unadoptable to fend for themselves, so-called TNVR (trap, neuter, vaccinate and release), as per the Animal Humane Society releasing around 1,000 cats deemed unadoptable annually in their “Community Cat” program. My wife, Deanna Krantz, and I have rescued and re-homed several of these cats released in our neighborhood.

There are humane alternatives to having to euthanize unadopted, healthy cats, and releasing them under the pro-life banner of a “no kill” shelter or humane organization is no humane solution.

Michael W. Fox, Golden Valley

MOZART

The circumstances of Mozart’s death are tangential to the topic of dynamic pricing (“The painful reality of ‘dynamic pricing,'” editorial, July 27), but it is regrettable that the Star Tribune perpetuated the myth that Mozart died in poverty. By the standards of the day, he was doing quite well. That he was buried in a common, unmarked grave was normal for most Viennese.

Paul Riedesel, Minneapolis

HEALTH CARE

Darn, what a hypocrite I am. After carping the past several years that people only change their opinions on political issues (e.g., abortion, same-sex marriage) after they or someone they love have personal experience with an issue, I find myself in a similar situation: I’m moved to action in writing this letter only because of my very recent personal experience. We should base our opinions on facts and evidence, and yet …

This letter is written to praise to the skies the M Health Fairview hospital and clinics at the University of Minnesota. After an unscheduled surgery this past weekend, I feel that I have to let people in on something just in case they’re not aware: M Health Fairview at the U is a premiere health care provider.

I shuffled into the emergency room in serious pain on Friday. The diagnosis came within hours, and I was home and healing by Saturday night.

Of course, there are objective measures of excellence, such as time in spent in the ER, the diagnostic tests completed, the number of visits by health care providers while in the ER or hospital room, pain alleviation, treatment success, hours between diagnosis and release, lack of complications from surgery and, of course, medical advancements.

However, it’s the professionalism, the advanced science and the kindness of the staff, that touched my heart and moved me to tears. The people at M Health Fairview care.

Sometimes it’s OK to just go ahead and freely offer praise, even though more rational judgments are based on objective information, not our own personal experience.

I invite you to pay attention to the good work that’s being done at M Health Fairview every day; there’s a lot to applaud. Of course, we all know that any human institution can’t be perfect. Let me tell you, though, we have an absolutely first-rate facility here, and I want everyone to know it. Explore for yourself before you need treatment.

Cindy Greenlaw Benton, Minneapolis

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