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Teens stats, ethanol bring reader comments

The merits of ethanol fueled a spate of recent comments, along with such topics as teen drivers, Iraq, department stores and Twins closer Joe Nathan. Here’s a selection from MinnPost readers… 

The merits of ethanol fueled a spate of recent comments, along with such topics as teen drivers, Iraq, department stores and Twins closer Joe Nathan. Here’s a selection from MinnPost readers:

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Dan Hintz
was prompted to comment on Craig Westover’s Wednesday post, “Oil vs. ethanol: What’s riskier?”:

Yet another reason why corn ethanol is a terrible product. The biggest problem, of course, is that corn ethanol is an environmental disaster, but a lot of would-be environmentalist legislators don’t dare cross the corn lobby. So not only are we stuck with corn ethanol, we are subsidizing it and mandating its use. It’s embarrassing that it’s the free-marketers who are right on this and who are leading the charge against corn ethanol.

John Olson responded:

Yes, you do trade off geopolitical risks for natural risks on the question of oil versus corn.

Oil, however, is a finite resource. Corn can be planted year after year. The limiting factor on corn is what percentage is diverted from ethanol production over to feed and/or food. Or vice-versa.

Having grown up in a rural area and spent my share of time as a young man on a tractor, I can assure you that farmers will complain about anything and everything: too dry, too wet, too cool, too hot, too cloudy, and so on.

I do agree that it is time to drop the subsidy for ethanol.

Robert Moffitt
weighed in:

“I do agree that it is time to drop the subsidy for ethanol.”

Is it time also to drop the tax breaks for oil companies?

In the form of E85, ethanol is a cleaner-burning, largely renewable alternative to gasoline, for those lucky enough to have a flex-fuel vehicle (about 170,000 on the road now in Minnesota). E85 is sold on the free market as an alternative to gasoline for these vehicles. Flex-fuel drivers can choose E85 or gasoline. Increasingly, more are choosing E85. Sales have increased every year at the 350 or so stations that sell the fuel.

Mark Hamerlinck added:

Basing an argument against corn ethanol on anything a senior fellow from the Cato Institute has is laughable. At the very least, it deserves some context, like, for instance, the fact that Cato was founded by David Koch, whose family derives their fortune from Koch Industries (think oil refining).

And shouldn’t readers know that funding for the Cato Institute also comes from the likes of the American Petroleum Institute and Exxon Mobil? Or that Cato contributors include the Scaife Foundations, which were founded on the millions the Mellon family made in their family business — Gulf Oil?

The National Corn Growers Association isn’t ashamed to put their name to their research and arguments. The same can’t be said for Big Oil.

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Paul Schatz
offered this pithy observation on G.R. Anderson Jr.’s Monday post, “Delta prez careful, conciliatory in latest Capitol hearings on Northwest”:

The only people less qualified to run a business than airline executives are legislators.

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Tony Wagner commented on Eric Black’s May 2 post, “How you’ve been misled on teen driving fatalities”:

Excellent work, Mr. Black.

It’s amazing how one twisted little nugget of misinformation can lead to so much wasted time, money, and energy, both in the media AND in the legislature. Shame on both of them!

Bob Collins
There’s a fundamental flaw in your research.

You attempted to debunk Kim Norton’s assertion (which, by the way, was that we had a high rate of teen “crashes” and fatalities involving teen drivers) by pointing out the number of TEENS killed.

However, according to research, the majority of people killed in “fatal accidents involving teen drivers” are not the teenagers.

According to AAA Minnesota, “between 1995-2004, crashes involving 15-, 16- and 17-year-old drivers claimed the lives of 567 people in Minnesota, of which 212 (37.4 percent) were the teen drivers themselves. The remaining 355 (62.6 percent) included 171 passengers of the 15- to 17-year-old drivers, 155 occupants of other vehicles, and 29 non-motorists.”

John E. Iacono added:

While I can see the difference Bob points out, I note that he does not assert we would be the worst state if his measure were used.

And I am impressed with Eric’s research.

As a father who steered two daughters through the shoals of learning to drive, I can appreciate the concerns of other parents as fledglings learn to fly, and legislators’ efforts to help.

It seems to me, however, that these efforts are somewhat off the mark.

More likely to save teen lives, it seems to me, would be a law making tailgating an offense with a large fine — this seems to me to be the most dangerous and common offense I notice with teen drivers. They can’t seem to grasp that they might not be able to stop.

And targeting cell phones and texting similarly would certainly affect teens, but also a number of others who frighten me when I see them thus distracted in my rear view mirror.

Of course this would be less popular, as a number of adults commit the same offense, but teens seem quite unaware of the risks they are taking — until they have an accident.

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Jon Larson
commented on Doug Grow’s May 2 post, “Despite public focus on Franken, overlooked Nelson-Pallmeyer still busy seeking delegate support”:

I do NOT understand the DFL these days.

When I see Al Franken, I see a man furiously trying to cover up his cheerleading for the Iraq invasion. In 2003, Al thought the winning strategy was to be a warmongering liberal — more bloodthirsty than Bill O’Reilly but perhaps nicer to gays. His public speaking style is worse than wooden, he lost every DFL debate, and is cursed with a repulsive show-biz personality. He is a shorter, homelier, dumber and more embarrassing version of Jesse Ventura.

When I watch Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, I see a guy who is taller, smarter, better educated and more thoughtful than Paul Wellstone. And while he doesn’t actually leap off the ground when speaking, he is in many ways a better speaker. He has written a dozen books — none of whose titles include the words “big fat idiot.”

Now I hardly think Franken’s tax troubles are disqualifying. They are merely one item on a list of things that will drive his negatives skyward a time goes by. I only hope the DFL takes this opportunity to re-think their silly infatuation with this C-list “celebrity.” Because Al Franken promises to be a major disaster for the party.

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Joey Peters reacted to David Brauer’s May 1 post, “City Pages: What if it doesn’t suck?”:

While it’s true that CP’s music coverage has declined, I feel like they’re trying to make up for it in centering much of their cover-page features on local music artists. Just last week their feature was about the one-man multitasking musician Martin Dosh, and the cover story of the issue posted above was about the history of local hair metal.

Rick Ellis added:

Only one feature between November and April managed to get more than 100,000 page views? Sheesh, I had no idea the threshold for success was so low.

I’m not surprised by the slide-show numbers, though. Slide shows are like crack to most publishers, from the N.Y. Times on down.

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Alan Muller appreciated Ron Way’s April 29 post, “Big Stone II project faces increasing scrutiny”:

I think this is a valuable story.

It is a confusing situation, with promoters of new power lines claiming that they are “for wind” when the underlying facts often seem to suggest they are actually for new coal plants.

It seems a no-brainer that Big Stone II should NOT be built for a whole host of reasons.

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Chuck Cavanaugh
commented on Craig Westover’s Monday story, “Beyond McCain: Ron Paul’s supporters hope to reshape the GOP”:

I voted for Ron Paul in 1988 and I was very pleased to get to shake hands with him at a campaign rally in Las Vegas in January. There were about 1,000 enthusiastic supporters in attendance — I was impressed when they cheered his denunciation of fiat money. They’re a much better educated group of supporters than the other candidates. They would not have been bought off by the nonsensical promise of a summer gasoline tax holiday.

I have no idea even what the word “conservative” means any more after watching the Republicans spend money like drunken sailors.

From Sean Brooks:

I find it extremely disturbing the GOP leadership would want to exclude anyone from their party these days. With the abysmal primary turnout this season, it’s obvious that the current GOP is losing this election before it even gets to the convention.

I, like millions of other Paul supporters, would infuse the party with new blood and enthusiasm, if only they would include us rather than treating us like party crashers.

Perhaps we should all just stay home in November. After McCain gets trounced, and the GOP is left wondering what to do now, they will be more receptive to our ideas, aka, the Constitution.

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Liza Dittoe commented on Cynthia Boyd’s Monday post, “Education in U.S. and China: What’s the difference?”:

Great story! Have you heard of the new documentary called Two Million Minutes?

The film follows 6 high school seniors from India, China and the U.S. to compare and contrast the high school experience in each country.

How kids spend their precious time — approximately four years or “2 million minutes” — during high school in each culture is radically different, and has profound implications for America’s economy in the decades ahead.

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Dan Smith was among those commenting on Frank Wright’s Tuesday World/Nation essay, “With little notice, a military insider critiques what went wrong in Iraq”:

Maybe the mainstream media have ignored the story because it doesn’t contain any criticism that hasn’t already been voiced. In addition, he gives credence to the belief that Saddam gave aid and comfort to terrorists — al Qaeda and others — when it suited his purposes. That’s a point of view that sticks in the throats of the MSM. For people who want to live 24/7 in an Oliver Stone universe the answers seem obvious: oil, oil, oil. The rest of the Republic is concerned about how to correct the errors that were made and avoid the kind of bloodbath that accompanied the American exit from Southeast Asia. For all you trolls, check out Pol Pot, the Killing Fields and Boat People on Wikipedia.

Myles Spicer opined:

A really good — and important — article. The only disagreement I would have with Collins is that chaos will reign on a pullout of our troops.

Chaos exists there now with our troops in place, and it will continue if and when we leave (as he notes). But using that logic, we cannot leave — at least not for years to come, and that is unacceptable and untenable. In the end, we will have to leave, and let the Iraqis manage on their own. Ultimately, it is the only possible solution, for better or worse. And oddly, it actually may be “better.”

An excerpt from Paul Udstrand‘s comment:

This “top military expert” is telling us nothing we don’t already know. Why does the news media persist with this delusion that we need military experts to point out the bloody obvious? One would think that the recent disclosures regarding these “analysts” in the NYT would give pause to this barrage of so-called analysis by “military experts,” but I guess not. …

He misses the biggest point entirely, which is that this war was a bad idea, not just poorly executed. This war was not fought for noble intentions, unless you think oil is a noble intention.

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Kurt Hoffman III
commented on Casey Selix’s May 2 story, “Drawing the Dayton’s crowd: Herberger’s attracts disaffected shoppers”:

Macy”s is an iconic Manhattan shopping experience; Macy’s is a bland nationwide franchise, in spite of the big names selling licensed goods in the stores. Dayton’s, Marshall Field’s, Hudson’s all belong to a golden era of retail, when the “new” had a lot of allure. The world economy and the world sensibility have changed, and these stores couldn’t adapt. Shopping is a different experience today for the younger generation looking to spend money. I am not nostalgic for the department stores I grew up with — as wonderful as they were.

I go now to Herberger’s because they offer what I want: pretty good quality merchandise that will not look dated several seasons down the road, is sold at agreeable prices — and is great fun to find on the legendary yellow dot clearance racks!

Tom Trisko

When I was the corporate economist doing forecasting and strategic planning for Dayton Hudson Corp in the ’70s, we did a major study of the department store industry which foresaw the likelihood of changes such as we have seen recently. It is the larger chains which have the biggest problems, and getting even larger does not solve them. There is a fundamental incompatibility between being sensitive to a local market of high income and high fashion customers and being a national or international chain selling to a wide range of consumers. … One-of-a-kind and smaller chains like Herbergers or Von Maur can still have their buyers searching the world for merchandise their customers will appreciate.

As a Dayton’s lover myself I would like to see a member of the Dayton family buy the downtown Minneapolis store and run it as a one-of-a-kind store under the Dayton’s name. This would allow them to offer locally appealing merchandise and service to recapture the customer base that now feels homeless.

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Chris Dohman commented on Pat Borzi’s Wednesday post, “Should the closer be the Twins’ highest-paid player?”:

Would folks feel better if the Twins gave Morneau an extra $4 mil this year? 🙂 It’s all supply and demand. You can’t compare apples and oranges. If you want an apple you will have to pay for an apple.