I read Michael Nesset’s article (“The good old days ... were, in ways,” Opinion Exchange, Aug. 13) and was not quite sure how to take it. I, too, grew up in a small town, but my recollections of small-town life in the 1950s and ’60s are not quite so benign or so happy. I, too, remember the soda fountain with the marble-topped bar and daytime baseball games on the radio. I also remember that my hometown was 100 percent white and nearly 100 percent Christian. Needless to say, if you weren’t either of those, you didn’t really belong there, and those who did fit those criteria were eager to let you know that. I think that from the perspective of someone nonwhite or non-Christian, the nostalgia for small-town life is a bad dream. I still see rural areas and small towns maintaining those attitudes, hence the red-blue split between cities and nonurban areas.

I can see how the “make America great again” crowd yearns for the days when white Christian men made the rules and made all of the important decisions — unchallenged and unopposed. But a lot of us don’t want that kind of world anymore and hope that we’ve moved past that to a time in which more of us participate in rule- and decisionmaking.

I’m no fan of people being glued to their mobile devices, but going back to what he calls the “good old days” seems to have its own set of problems — like last weekend in Virginia. Oh, I almost forgot, in the “good old days” the Klan had parades and rallies that drew very little opposition and much public support. How good were those days? NOT GOOD AT ALL!

Michael Cooper, Richfield

• • •

Oh, my gosh! I know that I may have been accused of having a strange sense of humor, but reading Nesset’s memoir of the good old days struck a chord of delight with me not felt for some time while reading a piece — even though it was wrapped in baseball metaphors!

I, too, wish a return to the soda fountains, the single-tier basketball tournaments, the front porches, fewer guns, no border walls.

Thank you, Star Tribune, and thank you, Michael: What a joyful start to the week for one old gal! Please do this again.

Beth Dhennin, Coon Rapids

CHARLOTTESVILLE

Put your money where your mouth is to help fight racism

Many of us feel we are doing our part in regards to the Charlottesville incident by denouncing President Donald Trump’s comments, posting on social media and listening to sermons about social justice on Sunday mornings. The furor over the incident will soon be forgotten as we move on to the next political disaster, but racism never goes away.

I would encourage everyone to reflect on actions they can take to make a dent in the armor of racism in this country. Because actions speak much louder than words.

The school year starts in a few weeks, and volunteers are needed to work with disadvantaged kids, many of them students of color. Volunteering for Habitat for Humanity will assist an underprivileged family to move into a home. Helping to stock shelves in a food pantry will provide nutrition to a family that otherwise may go hungry. We need to meet those who are affected by racism to truly bring about change.

Leslee Jaeger, Plymouth

MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL

Be careful what you wish for; rent controls can backfire

I hope that Minneapolis City Council members will consult with economists about the effects of rent control before imposing rent controls in Minneapolis (“Mpls. activists’ next target: Rents,” front page, Aug. 13). When rent controls are imposed, many landlords convert apartments to condominiums since they would have difficulty making a profit by continuing to rent them. Fewer new rental units are built for the same reason. The result is less affordable housing and long waiting lists of people wanting to get into the limited number of rental units. Landlords will not maintain rent-controlled units as well as when they are free to set prices based on supply and demand, because they no longer have to try to attract people to rent the units. These facts are discussed in most entry-level economics textbooks. One example is “Microeconomics” by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells. In the case of rent control, a government policy intended to help renters winds up hurting both renters and landlords.

James Brandt, New Brighton

CHARITABLE GAMBLING

To be fair, let dollars stay where needed — in our communities

I’m writing in response to last Sunday’s article: “Charity gambling feels big tax bite” (Minnesota section, Aug. 13).

It’s important for readers to be aware of the history and intended purposes of Minnesota’s charitable gambling laws and regulations. The key word is “charitable.” This means helping the less fortunate throughout our local communities. What was created in 1945 has a much different look today.

Five of the top 10 charities operating gambling sites in Minnesota happen to be youth hockey associations. I support using charitable dollars to help less fortunate youth play hockey. But most citizens would not agree that subsidizing ice time for affluent parents is the best use of charitable dollars.

Here in my community as an elected official, I’ve been unsuccessful in keeping even half of the charitable dollars created in Vadnais Heights from going to other communities to pay for their new multimillion-dollar ice arenas.

So is it just and fair to tax charitable organizations at a 50 percent tax rate to subsidize billionaire football team owners? No, it is not. But it also leaves a bad taste in my mouth to prevent local communities from capturing at least 50 percent of the charitable dollars created in their community for use in their community.

Additionally, it would be beneficial if our state leaders were to recognize and start allowing charitable dollars to be spent on the ever-expanding needs of our senior population. Under current law, charitable gambling dollars are not allowed to be used to promote senior activities.

Terry Nyblom, Vadnais Heights

The writer is a member of the Vadnais Heights City Council.

WAR AND PEACE

Trip to Vietnam shows what a difference 50 years can make

Tom Horgen’s moving description of his visit to his mother’s homeland in Vietnam gave me hope (“Vietnam, at last,” Travel, Aug. 13). Maybe in 50 years someone will write about the Middle East — Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Yemen — countries devastated by war now, vibrant with the business of life in the future.

Time gives us historical perspective. Ho Chi Minh is a celebrity; Americans are tourists instead of friends or foes. Horgen’s mother, Ninh, said: “I don’t like to think about war and how many people got killed. I don’t really care who is the good side and the bad side. They just killed people.”

Modern warfare has reversed the warrior-to-civilian death ratio from 10 combatants per civilian to 1:10. Nuclear warfare would increase that ratio a millionfold. Any targeted country would cease to exist, and I have no hope it would come back to life in 50 years. Would the Earth even be habitable? Anyone who even speaks of using nuclear weapons is a madman.

Sherry Machen, Plymouth