Adding to the real concern of maintenance bills for existing trails (“Aging trails lead to big bills,” Jan. 30) is the ambitious planning underway for significantly more asphalt.

The Metropolitan Council envisions tripling the regional bike network from 340 miles to more than 1,100 miles by 2040. Trails will connect to, but also through, our regional parks.

Regional parks contain significant natural resources such as lakeshore, wetlands, hardwood forests, native prairies and groundwater recharging areas. Park visitors enjoy nature-based recreation and education opportunities. These valuable habitats are now open to large construction projects and new asphalt, kept free of snow and ice, to serve as commuting routes for bicyclists.

Funding for new trail construction comes from the Legacy Amendment. A project list for Parks and Trails Legacy Funds recently submitted by the Met Council to the Legislature includes 49 percent allocated for new construction, 31 percent to take care of existing infrastructure and only 6 percent for natural resources.

Most voters cited reasons such as clean water and preserving nature as their primary reason for voting for the Legacy Amendment. What will be our legacy? If funding new construction projects, in particular through natural-resource-based parklands, is not what you intended, contact your legislators.

Holly Jenkins, Eagan

TAXES

To the contrary: Do lighten elders’ burden

The Feb. 4 editorial (“Don’t lighten elder income tax load”) proves one thing: The members of the Star Tribune Editorial Board have never seen a tax they didn’t like. Minnesota joins with the Federal Reserve in trying to improve the economy on the backs of seniors and savers. While it hasn’t helped spur business activity, it has driven seniors to spend their hard-earned capital, since interest-rate policy has reduced their income to nothing. Working with power-of-attorney cases, I have seen some sad situations. Minnesota could help the situation a little bit by joining other states who honor their seniors rather than make them think about moving to another, more-friendly location.

Larry A. Sorenson, Arlington, Minn.

The writer is a retired community banker.

• • •

It would appear that the Editorial Board fails to appreciate the difficulty of working at various levels of employment for, in many cases, close to 50 years and paying Social Security tax along with your employer. Of course, to pay this tax, your hard-earned income must first run the gantlet of the federal income tax, state income tax (if you work in one of the 41 states with income tax) and Medicare tax, after which any surviving dollars you earned are used to pay the Social Security tax.

If you die before retirement, the government confiscates the money accrued through your labor for your retirement. If you are able to retire, the payout to you of your money held in earnings-free escrow during your working years by the government must now run a second gantlet before you are able to access it for your hard-earned retirement. First, the federal government taxes 85 percent of your money again, then it takes out a minimum of $104 a month to pay for the Medicare you and your employer have already paid for in Medicare taxes since 1968. Then after these money grabs, if you have the misfortune to reside in one of the states that tax previously taxed money paid out to the person who earned it, another assault is made on your monthly stipend of your escrowed savings for retirement, after which you are free to enjoy your retirement on any surviving funds that remain. Time to change Minnesota.

David Offerman, Lakeville

 

UKRAINE

Don’t send arms; understand motives

It is disconcerting that the Star Tribune’s editorial staff has succumbed to the mainstream media narrative of purported Russian revanchism (“Send Ukraine defensive arms,” Feb. 3). The arguments used to portray Russia as an aggressor and the prescriptions for how to deal with such aggression rest on specious evidence.

First, Russia has made clear both publicly and privately that further NATO expansion on its borders is unacceptable. Considering Ukraine’s location, it is understandable that Russia perceives a western-leaning Ukraine — with eventual NATO membership — as threatening its security. Similar to Ukraine, discussions about Georgian NATO membership in 2008 resulted in a Russian invasion. Russia is not revanchist; it is responding to perceived threats to its security. If the Canadian government were suddenly toppled and replaced with a friendly Russian government, the United States would respond in a similar manner. The geopolitical lesson? Great powers like to be surrounded by stable and friendly countries.

Second, assuming Russia is revanchist, there is scant historical evidence that suggests sanctions are an effective coercive tool when it comes to perceived national security interests (see Cuba). Thus, it is wishful to believe sanctions will cripple Russia when it comes to Ukraine because Russia believes a western Ukraine is hostile to its security.

Third, arming Ukrainian rebels would neither deter Russia nor be effective. Research demonstrates that supplying rebels with weapons only prolongs civil conflicts and results in further stalemate. Furthermore, the United States has an abysmal record when it comes to successfully arming rebels, as evidenced by its involvement in Syria and Iraq.

Ian Lewenstein, Vadnais Heights

 

VACCINATION

Why it’s indeed selfish to resist

I’m frustrated by the Feb. 3 letter critiquing the Star Tribune’s editorial about vaccinations. The letter writer suggested that if my child is vaccinated, I have nothing to worry about! Here’s the issue: I care about more than my child and your child. I also care about the children below the age of 1 who cannot be vaccinated. I care about people who have immune problems who cannot be vaccinated — chemo patients, for example. I care about the small number of the population — 3 percent — for whom the vaccine is inefficient. That is why I am frustrated, and why the Star Tribune seemed so harsh to you. I am not thinking of your child and my child; I am thinking of all people, and your focus only on two oversimplifies herd immunity and endangers humanity beyond our two children. Please, for the love of God, immunize your children, advocate for immunization, and be offended only by unnecessary infections and death.

Jennifer Larson, Maple Grove