Two billionaires get together, and each hires some guys for millions of dollars each to go out and play against one another so that the billionaires can make billions more — and, somehow this is a deeply moving, “patriotic” national event that demands the raising of the flag and the playing of the national anthem. What the hell is patriotic about two billionaires huckstering us to give them more money? They’re merely “opening for business” for the day. Why not raise the flag and play the anthem for every business that opens its doors in the morning? Imagine being obligated to stop at each door as we make our way down the sidewalk and stand with our hand over our heart and wait for the anthem to finish at each shop. Same thing! Why are we even playing our anthem for this? What is so honorable about sports/business events like these? I don’t care that it’s a “tradition.” Traditional is not synonymous with proper.

The raising of the flag and playing of the anthem should be reserved for truly patriotic events, not trivialized. As a veteran, I don’t have a monopoly on patriotism. All who fight for freedoms and equality, whether as a soldier or through peaceful protest, are patriots. Like many other veterans, we deplore the idea of unchecked nationalism. The flag and anthem are about us all and what we can be. The ideals are probably unattainable, but worth the effort.

Just curious. How many of you complaining about the kneeling are in front of your TVs standing with your hand over your heart during the anthem?

Philip L. Carufel, Brooklyn Park

WATER AND AGRICULTURE

It is not, in fact, a contradiction to seek both safety and profits

The Oct. 10 article “Fertilizer rules pit clean water vs. profits” addresses an incredibly pertinent issue. But the head of the Minnesota Health Department’s drinking water section is quoted in the article as saying that “it’s impossible to raise crops without an impact on groundwater,” and that’s an unfortunate and uninformed statement.

In fact, solutions to this challenge are available and involve both reduced nitrogen fertilizer and increased farmer profitability.

Soil health practices, which include the use of continuous cover crops on the land, minimal tillage, increased crop diversity and adding livestock to the land, are proven to protect and restore water quality while boosting farmers’ bottom line. This is because the restoration of soil health, using these common-sense practices, reduces chemical runoff and soil erosion that is damaging to our rivers, lakes and streams while building up the soil and diversifying revenue streams.

Scores of farmers in the region like me have been adding cover crops, reducing soil disturbances and putting livestock back on the landscape, and are realizing the economic benefit of these practices. I often hear them say: “I sure wish I would have done this a lot sooner.” The Sustainable Farming Association has been leading the charge by holding conferences and workshops all over the state in partnership with other groups and agencies to give farmers practical tools and hands-on examples of how to work with nature, not against it, as they raise corn and soybeans.

Farmers are proving that they can be successful while using little to no chemicals on the land and stopping costly, polluting runoff. There should be no “contradiction between supporting farmers and protecting water,” as the article stated, because we have the knowledge and capability to shift the paradigm of agriculture production to an environmentally sustainable model. It’s time to shine a spotlight on those who are restoring soil health and ensuring continuous living cover on the land. That’s where the solution to this dilemma lies.

Jim Chamberlin, Deerwood, Minn.

The writer is president of the Sustainable Farming Association.

HEALTH CARE

Step up — don’t allow federal gutting of MinnesotaCare

The federal government is out to destroy MinnesotaCare, a health care program that is successfully working to provide affordable coverage for over 100,000 Minnesotans, and we must stop that from happening. If the feds are successful, not only will our fellow Minnesotans be denied health care they so desperately need but the rest of Minnesota will be impacted as well, because those health care costs will be passed on to the rest of us.

MinnesotaCare is an insurance solution that works. Passed on a bipartisan basis to provide affordable access to health care, it has become an essential insurance option for farmers, small-business owners, students and families without employer-provided insurance to get the care they need when faced with an illness or an emergency.

The Legislature last session provided $542 million to lower insurance premiums in the private market for people at or above 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). This funding is called a reinsurance pool. Because federal subsidies for people below 400 percent of FPL are based on rates in the private insurance market, Minnesota asked for a federal waiver to prevent the loss of federal funds. The federal government had encouraged states to create these reinsurance pools by promising they would not penalize states that did so. The state did not otherwise need a federal waiver to create a reinsurance pool, since it was funded completely with state tax dollars.

But the federal government is now threatening to break its promise by eliminating nearly $400 million from the MinnesotaCare formula. This is a significant reduction in funding and threatens to eliminate this insurance option for our neighbors, friends and fellow citizens.

We write because we worked together, Republicans and Democrats, to pass MinnesotaCare. Now is not the time to break something that is working! We call all people from both parties to work together once again, because MinnesotaCare works, and we, as Minnesotans, are obligated to do what we can to keep it that way.

It is incumbent that all of us contact our state and federal legislators as well as our governor and let them know: Do not kill MinnesotaCare. It is a program that works for all Minnesotans.

This letter was signed by former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson, former state Sens. Linda Berglin and Duane Benson and former state Rep. Lee Greenfield.

WAR

Speaking of what we enable, here’s another abdication

Piggybacking on an Oct. 10 letter naming us as “the enablers”: We are the enablers also, along with the Congress, of the wars the country is both engaged in, or, itself enabling (think Yemen). Our distracted-bystander position, and the dereliction of duty of the Congress, has meant the abdication of elected representatives’ responsibility to be a check on unconstitutional executive actions. Ongoing war overshadows and has its dire effects throughout society and the environment. Whatever aspirations voters and current candidates may have for city and state, such wishes are curtailed by the drug of war, its needs and its few beneficiaries. Magical thinking (and voting) cannot get us to where we need to be; only an engaged and active citizenry will change our fortunes.

David Luce, Minneapolis

• • •

My son is 14 months old. What is the fundamental difference between him and a 14-month-old North Korean boy? A 14-month-old Iranian boy? A 14-month-old Syrian boy? Nothing. They know nothing of the world yet except their parents’ dreams for them. Dreams that they may live in a world that has matured into living in peace. How long must we endure before mankind realizes that we’re all the same? We have the highest hopes for our children’s futures. It is my dream that he may live in the interdependent, collective life free of war that we’re destined for as humanity.

Johann Gebauer, Minneapolis