As an urban-dweller who arguably does not understand farm economics, I applaud your editorial urging Minnesota to help its family farmers (“More trouble for Midwest’s farmers,” Dec. 2). But I would add an important reason — public health of Minnesota citizens.

As more farms are gobbled up by big agriculture, we lose the connection of our family farmers to the land and the economy in which they live. Those who care about sustaining the soil, water and air are most likely the family farmers. Small farms produce more of our organic food and more of the food that is needed locally, rather than producing huge mono-crops that make money for a few corporations at the expense of Minnesota’s environment and health. Agriculture policy at both the state and federal levels needs a major overhaul so that support goes to independent family farms and the environment rather than continuing the trend of stockpiling resources for those who don’t need it.

This is as critical to me living in the city as it is to those in rural Minnesota.

Barbara Klatt, St. Paul

University of Minnesota

Basketball fan wishes for dimmer on new arena lights, floor

I first stepped into Williams Arena as a student in December of the 1971-72 men’s basketball season. I had one student season ticket in the upper deck on the end line.

Earlier in the fall, our new head coach, Bill Musselman, was quoted in the Minnesota Daily as saying he was going to win the Big Ten Championship his first year.

That was good enough for me. Guess what? He did it. Thus began the 47-year odyssey of being a season-ticket-holder that continues today.

I’m writing this letter to urge other fans young and older to call, write or e-mail the University of Minnesota if you agree that the new bright white floor (the ghost of Williams Arena past) that replaced the beautiful varnished one is appalling.

The new lighting reminds me of driving at night when the oncoming driver fails to dim his lights. It’s hard to focus on the road because of the glare. The difference is, that lasts for a few seconds. The glare of the rows of new klieg lights lasts for two hours.

Scott Danielson, Eden Prairie

State economy

Minnesota needs to make budget before deciding there’s a surplus

It has always made me wonder about the terminology used when discussing a budget surplus if there is not a budget presented yet by the governor (“Budget surplus swells to $1.5B,” Dec. 7). In the second year of a budget, it might make sense to say that there is indeed more money to work with than predicted.

But I would prefer the term not be used prior to the original budget.

Have we met all the real needs of our state with a previous budget? Is the economy indeed doing really well? Have we taken into account inflation? Let’s answer those questions and develop a solid budget for the state of Minnesota.

Charlotte Brooker, Maplewood

Israel

Can we raise questions of tactics?

I was quite surprised that Steve Hunegs used his position as executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas to personally denounce thoughtful local writers and Jewish Voice for Peace, as though they are know-nothings, as he conflated anti-Semitism with criticism of policies and tactics carried out by the state of Israel. (“Thoughts on the definition of anti-Semitism,” Dec. 6.)

Seems to me it’s within the rights of American citizens and groups to question and decry our U.S. financial and military aid to Israel of more than $134 billion since its establishment.

Lucia Smith, St. Louis Park

Aging

Who says 80-year-olds are ready for the rocking chair?

In “Here’s how they learned to deal with it” (Dec. 6), Carly Zucker spoke about dealing with negative comments on social media. Zucker’s comment, “my husband and me in rocking chairs at 80 years old, scrolling twitter,” was a slap in the face to active 80-year-olds who are not in their rockers, scrolling twitter.

Sandy Stanford, Apple Valley

Seniors

Taxes, even on Social Security, pay for our quality of life

Rep. Greg Davids wants seniors to not pay taxes on their Social Security benefits, claiming that “this is their money” (“Eliminating state income tax on Social Security benefits is just plain sense,” Dec. 3).

Well, it is not. Those of us who have kept the annual reports of our Social Security taxes paid and who now get the benefits know that the latter far exceed the former.

Regardless, many of us choose to stay in Minnesota because we value the quality of life. We know that our taxes go to support quality education and infrastructure, the outdoors and the arts. It is this quality of life that encourages graduates to stay in the state, businesses to open shop here and qualified workers to join these employers.

We know that whatever services we seek — medical, financial, cultural, government — we will meet the most-qualified and dedicated individuals who choose Minnesota.

Hanna Hill, Plymouth

• • •

On the specific issue of taxation of Social Security benefits, Rep. Greg Davids’ arguments just don’t make sense. He claims, “Even with the meager 15 percent exemption, seniors are still being double taxed on 85 percent of their Social Security payments.” Apparently, Davids is not aware that one half of an individual’s contributions to the Social Security system are paid by the employer and thus not taxed (self -employed individuals pay the whole amount, but get a deduction for half). Moreover, a portion of the benefits received is from interest earned on the Social Security Trust Fund.

Income tax should be uniformly applied to income. Age or retirement status should have no bearing on it. Perhaps Davids should review Article 10 of the Minnesota Constitution, which requires that “Taxes be uniform upon the same class of subjects …”

Davids’ argument does not make “plain sense,” but I suppose it does make political sense. Pandering to seniors is a time-tested way to get votes. But this senior disagrees. If we get a tax break, younger working folks will have to pay more. I hope the Legislature rejects this bad idea.

Eric W. Forsberg, Golden Valley

Environment

Students leading the charge on climate change found supporter

When I read in the Star Tribune about the student movement across Minnesota to combat climate change (“Charged up about change,” Dec. 1), I couldn’t get to my computer fast enough to let the students know that there are many of us more senior who are most excited to follow their lead.

As these young leaders along with iMatter have accessed, it takes more than holding up the science of climate change to get people to change, unfortunately. The very fact that you, dear students, will be living in the future that we create by the laws and policies that we enact today is a very big motivating factor for every one of us. What parent and grandparent is not moved by the excitement, passion and — yes — alarm that you demonstrate through your active involvement?

Diane Amer, Roseville