Bravo for "A fanfare for a humble governor"! The Dec. 23 editorial recognizing Mark Dayton's gift of leadership as a champion of social, racial and economic justice is a bright note, during this season when many have been celebrating the gift of giving.

Like many Minnesotans, I am grateful for changes in the tax structure that have resulted in investments such as all-day kindergarten and expanded preschool programs.

Aware that Dayton's legacy is much broader than my few words, I repeat, "BRAVO!"

Judith Dahill, Minnetonka

Tice on inequality: Letter responses miss the point

On Dec. 16, columnist D.J. Tice offered excellent insight into the problems we have measuring and, as a result, deciding on effective solutions for reducing economic inequality in the U.S. The article's headline stated his purpose: "Scrutinizing what 'everybody knows' on inequality."

On Dec. 23, letter writers took his column to task because his analysis suggests that our common measurements might exaggerate the extent to which economic inequality exists in the U.S. They suggest "quibbling over numbers may confuse some people," and that questioning the measurements is somehow denying the problem. They imply that it matters only that inequality exists and the amount is unimportant.

I think the letter writers miss the valuable point Mr. Tice placed before us. I came away from his article with renewed concern that perhaps our historical inability to find solutions is because we work with inaccurate facts.

Successful policies require the accuracy and relevancy of the facts being analyzed. Simplistic statements from those letters are well intended but won't lead to any solutions for the problem.

Steve Bakke, Edina

Letter writer wanted a physical fitness emphasis. There already is.

Concerning a Dec. 23 letter on the University of Minnesota's athletic program calling for "a first-rate intramural athletics program and physical fitness classes … as a top priority for the new president": I attended the U at the Twin Cities and Duluth a few decades ago and can assure the letter writer that both campuses have excellent sports programs. Every quarter, I made sure to include at least one fitness class, which included volleyball, bowling, fencing (both sabre and foil), physical fitness, weightlifting, self-defense and archery, to name a few. I also had the opportunity to participate in many intramural sports, including broomball, coed soccer, floor hockey and softball, and cheered my roommates and friends in their intramural sports of bowling, basketball, flag football and wrestling. A quick search of the internet also reveals that the programs are still going strong.

Todd W. White, Shorewood

It's either two hands or no hands clapping

Just a note of thanks for the Dec. 23 Opinion Exchange essay by Peter M. Leschak ("The Nuthatch Suite"). It was just perfectly wonderful. My heart is duly warmed and my spirit resolved to continue to be kind.

Kathleen A. Magrew, Maple Grove

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Leschak is what I can't stand of liberals.

The whole article about his girlie feelings on saving a bird.

Wouldn't want him or his six readers in my foxhole.

Mark Cullen, St. Louis Park

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I thank the Star Tribune for informative and insightful opinion pages. The Dec. 23 issue prompts this and Lori Sturdevant's retirement, which saddens me. She makes me proud to be a Minnesotan. With every column, she teaches me. I thank Peter Leschak for his beautifully-crafted essay "The Nuthatch Suite." I don't remember ever reading a more stirring, entertaining and motivating paean to nature. And I thank D.J. Tice for making me think. Often I disagree with him and relish liberal rejoinders to his column, but he's a conservative I respect.

Jeanette Blonigen Clancy, Avon, Minn.

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When juxtaposing two recent articles on wildlife, I was struck by how the columnists differ in their views of human/animal interconnectedness ("Seeing different things in trophy shots," Dec. 21) and Peter Leschak's "Nuthatch Suite." In the former submission, outdoors writer Dennis Anderson expresses a decidedly pro-consumptive position, while author Leschak's opinion piece reflects a nonconsumptive attitude of communion with nature (I, too, by the way, speak to wild animals).

To Anderson's credit, he mentions the spiritual bond Native Americans typically have with animals and by extension nature. However, he fails to address the fear hunted animals experience and the pain so many of them feel when wounded, especially with a bow and arrow, and trapped (pets included). Fish with their central nervous system also suffer when hooked. Consequently, pictures of smiling children or adults posing with their unlucky "trophies" have no place in a world we attempt to make more humane.

Consumptive users of wildlife need to be reminded that these animals are public domain, with hunting, trapping and fishing being a privilege, not a right. To wreck creation for recreation violates fundamental respect for the natural world and the innate sensitivity of children to animals.

As anthropologist Loren Eiseley said: "One does not meet oneself until one catches the reflection in an eye other than human."

Richard Laybourn, Bloomington

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The editors of the Star Tribune's opinion pages should be ashamed of themselves for publishing Scott Stantis' scurrilous cartoon characterization of federal employees on Dec. 27. In other parts of the paper, including in your own editorials, you have talked about and reported on the critical work that federal employees engage in, whether it is fighting forest fires, ensuring the security of our airports and airplanes, managing systems like Social Security and Medicare that so many of our citizens rely upon, or providing assistance and protection to American citizens overseas. Those public servants are dedicated professionals who work hard every day to support their fellow citizens and their country, and many of them are doing that without pay at this time. The Star Tribune's decision to publish that cartoon was a decision to promote the falsehood that our government is an "other" and that it is a bunch of lazy people living off the fat of the land rather than the professional public servants who manage critical government functions and services that we choose through our elected representatives and benefit from directly and indirectly every day. Promoting this kind of falsehood does not count as presenting all sides of a debate, and it is not what I expect of the Star Tribune.

Mary Curtin, Minneapolis

The writer is a diplomat in residence at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

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Thank you to the opinion editors for at least not publishing a nonbeliever's raging rant on Christmas Day ("The missed point: It's a logical progression in an age of science," Readers Write, Dec. 26, responding to the Star Tribune's recently concluded series "Test of faith: The unchurching of America"). The letter writer insults everyone who has ever believed in God, labeled that as "superstitious nonsense" with "no evidence of a god or afterlife." She obviously does not share the joy and peace of the numerous faithful holy days, practiced by all those who have believed in one God for thousands of years.

Everyone has their individual right to their own opinions, but religious beliefs, like politics, deserve a more civil discourse, tolerating and respecting the beliefs of others.

Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis

Opinion editor's note: More letters responding to the Dec. 26 letter about belief in God will appear in Readers Write on Monday.