Opinion editor's note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.

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Regarding "The trauma of dealing with trauma never stops": As an emergency room nurse at the Hennepin County Medical Center from 2014 to December 2021, I appreciated the in-depth reporting on the toll of working in emergency medicine. I often felt guilty likening my experience to the PTSD of military veterans or police, because I was far less physically in danger. However, the emotional whiplash of witnessing constant violence, particularly dead children, before punching out to return to normal life is isolating at best. With multiple colleagues taking their own lives during my tenure, I hope society and hospital systems are moved to care for the emotional well-being of front-line employees working in critical care, including giving permission to take a pause such as fully paid leave, if requested, and not denying/limiting time-off requests.

Anna Dykhuis, Minneapolis

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I hope the ER staff at HCMC realize that the fine work they do in saving lives is truly appreciated. I know because my husband ended up there years ago after we were struck by a drunken driver when we were riding our bikes. They literally saved his life. I was admitted at a different hospital, and those ER workers also deserve thanks. Years later, we have a good life — some lasting damage, yes, but we are here. Thanks to all the ER health care workers!

Lori Lohman, Chaska

SINGLE-PARENT FAMILIES

It's the wages, not the marital status

Nicholas Kristof seems to be confusing correlation and causation in his recent commentary ("The privilege we liberals can't see," Opinion Exchange, Sept. 15). Yes, single-parent families correlate to greater childhood poverty and lower achievement. Why? Because wages are no longer high enough that a family of four can survive, let alone thrive, on a single (40-hour week) income. It's hard to provide enrichment experiences if you are struggling to afford food, housing and reliable transportation or need to work two jobs to do it. So are single-parent families the real cause of childhood poverty and achievement failure, or is it that wages haven't kept up with cost of living increases since the 1950s?

Julie Quinn, Le Center, Minn.

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Nicholas Kristof's commentary "The privilege we liberals can't see" is thought-provoking. As a liberal myself, I take issue with the title. I do see. Furthermore, like many of us liberals, Kristof displays discomfort when laying out the hard facts — the plague of child poverty is far more prevalent among Black people than among white people. But this is not any more racist (or "politically incorrect") as recognizing the reality that incarceration rates are disproportionately higher among people of color, property ownership is disproportionately lower among people of color, abortion rates are higher among people of color, and poverty rates are higher — to catalog just a few of the symptoms of a community that has had disadvantages throughout our history as a country. The only good news is that these disparities are being recognized and addressed. (Be comforted, Mr. Kristof, knowing that it is us liberals leading the charge to acknowledge the problems and our collective culpability.)

But while this commentary is valuable, it doesn't address how to correct poverty. Perhaps Kristof, who identifies as a liberal, shares the opinion of the most liberals: Let the government provide programs that lift underserved communities out of poverty. Those who don't agree, take note: Data has just been published regarding the child poverty rate increase since the cessation of the child tax credit program.

It's a dramatic example of the devastation that can occur when a successful government program is rescinded.

Richard Masur, Minneapolis

ST. PAUL CITY COUNCIL

Isaac Russell for Third Ward

This year, voters have a rare opportunity to influence the direction of St. Paul city government. The majority of City Council members are not seeking another term, including the 12-year incumbent representing the Third Ward, which consists of Highland Park and most of Macalester-Groveland.

The next council should address decades of deferred street maintenance, increasingly burdensome residential property taxes and bureaucratic policies that make it needlessly difficult to build housing or run a business in St. Paul. Instead, opposing candidates are advocating to expand the city's role in dictating housing prices and launch an expensive preschool subsidy scheme that even Mayor Melvin Carter says is unworkable.

Isaac Russell has strong public policy experience unmatched by any other candidate. He spent nearly a decade as a hardworking state Senate staff member under divided government and now directs policy for a nonprofit dedicated to building a better economy for all. Having grown up in poverty and experienced homelessness, Russell understands what's at stake and what works. Every community member deserves a sense of safety and security, starting with effective police, fire and public works. Russell will take a pragmatic and disciplined approach to delivering the services we need.

Kevin Gallatin, St. Paul

The writer is campaign chair for Isaac Russell.

SOCIETY

Not as different as you'd think

I am a wild-eyed suburban liberal, and I finally watched the video of Jason Aldean singing "Try That in a Small Town." I listened to the words, despite the controversy about where it was filmed.

First of all, I live in a small town — Minnetonka. Granted, it's not a "small" town — 53,000 — but it's not big, either. Recently we were at the Hopkins farmers market (another small town), and my husband left a whole bag of corn behind on the seller's table. And when he went back, two hours later, darned if that corn wasn't still there. That kind of thing happens here all the time.

And when I lived in Minneapolis, I lived in small towns — Cooper, Lowry Hill, Longfellow. Minneapolis is full of small towns — 83, I believe. They're called neighborhoods. And we take care of each other in those neighborhoods — we help each other out, we bring hot dishes and bars and visit people in the hospital, we keep an eye on the kids, we have picnics and shovel each other's walks. We do all the same things people in small towns do — we care about each other.

And I don't know anybody who likes the kind of violence that occurred, for example, on Jan. 6, 2021, in front of another neighborhood that belongs to us. There are a lot of people in small towns out here, and we have a lot more in common than you'd think. Maybe we should talk more about that, and less about how different we are.

Carol Allis, Minnetonka

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Reading the Sept. 16 letter "A reminder of complexity within us," I was at first confused by the line describing "elites who put people in a box based on race, ZIP code ... ." I honestly went, What the heck is this thoughtful, eloquent person talking about? Yes, I see reductionist stereotypes quite often, but not as complete as the writer deeply felt had gotten in the mainstream. I soon realized that even though I follow folks I don't agree with on X and talk often with the neighbor who thinks I am going to hell, I still miss a lot of ideas, talking points and points of view popular outside my bubble. Could maybe someone in media help out even more by doing pieces on "here's some ways of seeing things that haven't gotten to you"? It's a big ask, but believe others would find it fascinating as well.

Casstinna Hanson, Columbia Heights