– America’s third great crisis looms,” Opinion Exchange, April 16), but it is an interesting twist on history that allows John C. (Chuck) Chalberg to completely ignore the role played by our country’s growing economic inequality in the trouble that is brewing. Indeed, we are not facing a new threat in the form of longtime social-safety-net programs but rather are replaying the crisis that preceded the Great Depression. For the last several decades, we have experienced an erosion of the regulations and political policy that restrained capitalism’s excesses and protected workers, leading to a near-miss with another depression. Although our economic productivity has continued apace since the Great Recession, this time most of the financial gains have flowed to the few at the top of the economic ladder, with the rest of the country stuck in wage stagnation and declining financial prospects.

Chalberg’s omission is especially ironic in the face of the growing disenchantment of young people and a decimated middle class that has led to the popularity of the likes of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in this campaign season. These candidates are appealing directly to those who feel they are being cheated out of a chance at the American dream. If you take an honest look at history, especially the periods during which the New Deal and the Great Society came about, it has been protest and unrest by the masses that have provoked change and resolved the crises that have faced this country. Chalberg’s push to weaken programs such as Social Security and welfare would only expedite this crisis. Prescient individuals such as Robert Reich have noted the need for economic reform to promote a fair share in America’s prosperity. Reich wrote: “Reform is less risky than revolution, but the longer we wait the more likely it will be the latter.”

Jerilyn Jackson, Stillwater

• • •

Chalberg brings attention to an important issue. It’s beyond dispute that our country faces a tough fiscal situation caused by too much government spending. As he must know, roughly 75 percent to 80 percent of federal spending goes to 1) interest on the national debt, 2) Social Security and Medicare, and 3) national defense. If we want to meaningfully reduce government spending, the cuts have to come from Nos. 2 and/or 3. Traditionally, Democrats have put a high value on social spending and Republicans have valued a strong defense. I don’t think either party can be faulted for putting those values first. But we have limited funds available and we’re at the limit of what we can afford. Cuts need to be made.

Unfortunately, the reality is that politicians in both parties are penalized for compromising. A Democrat open to cutting both social spending and military spending will be hammered by his own party in the primaries for being insensitive to the old and sick and hammered by Republicans in the general election as being soft on defense. A Republican moderate faces the reverse. This phenomenon even pops up at the end of Chalberg’s article when he can’t resist taking a subtle shot at President Obama for “retreating” on foreign policy. Change will come only when both sides acknowledge that progress can’t be made without the help of the other.

Matthew Becker, St Louis Park

TRANSIT FUNDING

Inequity at a basic level: Bus service vs. light rail

Two transit items in the news: The Metropolitan Council and U.S. Sen. Al Franken are pressuring the state for $135 million to fund light rail to Eden Prairie, and Metro Transit can’t seem to find $15 million for improved buses for north Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center. The total cost of the Penn Avenue arterial bus service would be $35 million, or less than 1/50th of the $1.8 billion needed for Southwest light rail. The Penn Avenue bus would serve about 7,000 daily riders, or more than one-fifth of the Southwest line’s projected 34,000 riders. So much for the governor’s big push for equity.

Jeanette Colby, Minneapolis

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS

Think about your bluntest beliefs — then about your legacy

Supporters of Donald Trump revel in his assaults on “politically correct” speech, explaining that he crosses lines they, too, yearn to breach if only they could speak their minds without fear of ferocious blowback. I have a suggestion: Write down your thoughts. Let it all out regarding people of different religions, colors, races and gender. Put it all in a sealed envelope and give it to your pastor with instructions to read the words at your funeral and include them in your obituary. RIP.

Bob Norberg, Lake City, Minn.

‘YOU DON’T SAY’ CARTOON

Has it occurred that the barbs of intolerance prick both ways?

It was wonderfully comic to have the Star Tribune’s opinion-page staff put the latest vitriolic cheap shot of L.K. Hanson, who targets those dangerous, subversive Christians as the primary ones in the world who are hateful, bigoted and stupid escapists from responsibility, right next to the headline “How hateful rhetoric often turns deadly.”

No logical disconnect whatsoever in this leftist homily from your staff.

Perry Toso, Roseville

AFFORDABLE THEATER

Give Mixed Blood credit, too

Congratulations to Joe Haj for bringing affordable tickets to the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio. It’s a shame that an April 18 editorial about it (“Theater that matters at an affordable price”) didn’t mention the “radical hospitality” program that Jack Reuler established at the Mixed Blood Theatre some years ago, allowing many to attend that stimulating theater without charge.

David Waterbury, Minneapolis

• • •

Pricing tickets at $9 for performances on the ninth floor does make the Guthrie experience affordable. Shows like “Harvey” can indeed cost $75 per ticket; however, balcony seats are available for $15. The Guthrie’s other special pricing programs are also worthy of note. It offers flexible season-ticket options for students and seniors at discount prices. Single-performance discounts ranging from $3 to $10 per ticket are available for students and children. With the “30 Below” program, which the Guthrie started in 2012, people ages 16 to 30 can buy tickets by phone on the day of the show at the public rush line price, no waiting in line. Of course, if you are willing to try your luck on the public rush line, you will enjoy cordial conversation with other patrons while you wait, and you just might score those fantastic orchestra center seats for just $15. What a deal!

David Aquilina, Minneapolis

USE OF THE LANGUAGE

Inflate those words. Spread joy.

What a perfect world it would be if outrage at hyperinflation of language was the only concern that prompted the penning of a letter to the editor (“Interjective invective,” April 18). Unlike the writer, who admits feeling smug because of her imagined superiority over those attempting to be pleasant to her, I rather appreciate those who take the time to respond to me in an upbeat way, exaggerated or not. If only everyone would take a moment to rein in their negativity and try not to engage in superficial judgments of other people, especially those who are attempting to be pleasant, this would indeed be a better world. And that would be awesome!

Barb Holmquist, Buffalo, Minn.