Justice system, cryptocurrency, guns, climate #Justice #system #cryptocurrency #guns #climate


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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Two articles in the Nov. 18 Minnesota section of the Star Tribune offer persuasive evidence that there are two systems of justice in the state, one for the wealthy and another for the poor. “Court: Teen to be tried as adult” (page B1) tells us the tragic story of Husayn Braveheart, a Native teen from South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation placed in foster care at age 6. Understandably angry, he bounced around the deplorably under-resourced foster care system until he predictably ended up running with the wrong crowd in the “foster care to prison pipeline.” He was 15 and caught carjacking, with a bad history, and he is now on the way to at least 12 years in adult prison. Does anyone believe he will come out ready to be a productive member of society?

Conversely, on page B5 we see “Ex-snack food exec gets plea deal in $300K theft,” where we find that Thomas J. Wiechmann will serve no time after being charged with over $300,000 in theft. If he behaves, the charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor, and he can argue for a shorter probation at sentencing than the three years in the deal. Based on the story, he managed to steal thousands of dollars a year for at least the last six of his 24 years with the company. There is so much money floating around for execs that this theft was not missed for at least six years. Not a day in jail for stealing over $300,000!

What if just $100,000 in resources was available to prop up Braveheart when he was abandoned at age 6? Most of us could not imagine what his life was like, but it is not hard to picture what the pocket change slopping around executive compensation could do to improve the lives of Braveheart and many like him. Heaven forbid we consider raising taxes to try to improve the lives of “those people.” Instead we pay for the crime and incarceration caused by those who cannot afford what it takes to become a crooked snack food exec.

Tom Salkowski, Buffalo, Minn.

CRYPTOCURRENCY

I see that the U.S. government is concerned about the investors in the FTX collapse (“Troubled FTX owes $3B to its main creditors,” Nov. 22). I have not seen any concern about crypto data “mining” using tremendous amounts of electrical power to develop cryptocurrency. I do not think most citizens understand how much this so-called mining has the potential to exacerbate climate change. These mining operations depend on vast arrays of computers churning out calculations that as far as I know have no redeeming value. The resulting power necessary for cooling is tremendous and has resulted in closed coal power plants being reopened in order to satisfy the ravenous amounts of electrical power needed. Crypto “mining” needs to be regulated or eliminated. At the least, the power consumption needs to be reduced, the “mining” computers need to perform useful calculations and the needed power should come from non-fossil-fuel sources.

Last month, the Star Tribune had an excellent article about crypto “mining” where they pointed out that a “mining” operation has been approved for Jamestown, N.D., where the power needed would be twice the power needed for the entire city of 16,000 people! (“Beware of the crypto ‘Wild West,'” Oct. 23.) This is happening all over the world!

Tate Halvorson, Minneapolis

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With the collapse of FTX and the potential criminal liability of Sam Bankman-Fried using customer funds to invest in his affiliate’s venture investments, you would have to ask whether Sen. Tina Smith or U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, who both received political donations from Bankman-Fried, would consider returning those funds to FTX’s customers.

Sheryl McMahon, Cottage Grove

GUNS

When 376 law enforcement officers at Robb Elementary in Texas failed to stop the slaughter of 19 children who were murdered by an 18-year-old with a legally purchased assault weapon, then maybe, just maybe, Americans, and our current laws, are not enough to stop gun-related death and crimes. And now, yet another senseless shooting of unarmed, innocent Americans just out living life (“Colorado attack should spark action,” editorial, Nov. 22).

Assault weapons should be banned. Gun ownership should be difficult at best. There should be no need for civilians to carry loaded guns in public. Hunting in hunting areas only. All guns registered, licensed and insured. Those caught with illegal weapons should be put away. If a weapon licensed to an individual is used in a crime by someone else, then that gun owner should also be charged.

The pro-gun people talk about responsible gun owners being infringed upon by any legislation that would limit access to any guns. Responsible gun owners should be responsible for the weapons they bring home. Period. The era of the Wild West and “guns for everyone” should be over. We as a society have proven we cannot handle the responsibility — and we prove it every day.

David McCuskey, Orono

CLIMATE CONFERENCE

The failure of the COP-27 international climate conference to come to grips with the scope of our climate emergency requires us to redouble local and individual action (“Climate talks see accord on new fund,” Nov. 21). To be sure, the best approach to the climate crisis is one that is global and equitable and led by governments at the highest levels. But political and ideological intransigence at these levels requires additional strategies. There is no time to spare, and no shortage of good choices.

In Minnesota, our Legislature can lead the way to energy security and sustainability with economic and environmental payoffs for generations to come; the upcoming session offers a new opportunity. Support for local groups like Fresh Energy can drive action at the state and regional levels.

But personal action is necessary too. We all need to become carbon neutral, and fast. And we can! It’s easy to choose Xcel Energy’s “Windsource” and economical to go solar to power our homes! We can eat foods lower on the food chain and save money doing it.

Air transportation is troublesome since it requires burning a lot of carbon in the form of aviation fuel, but the purchase of carbon offsets can help. Groups like Sustainable Travel International and Terrapass provide easy-to-use websites; these groups are third-party certified and support sustainable energy and conservation projects around the world.

International failure does not mean that we give up. With all of creation at stake, it demands that we don’t.

Lyndon Torstenson, Minneapolis

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I’m happy to learn that the U.S. will help pay for the creation of a fund to compensate poor nations that are victims of extreme weather worsened by carbon pollution. Helping other nations deal with flooding and drought is not only the fair thing to do but will benefit wealthier nations by lessening the threat of mass migration. I hope the funds will also be used to help developing nations leapfrog over the use of coal and gas and go directly to solar and wind. This will require investment up front but will help the entire world avoid the disastrous results of climate change. Those of us who can afford to drive our SUVs, heat our big houses and fly somewhere just for fun can afford to help other people get heat and light without burning more fossil fuels.

Cathy Ruther, St. Paul

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