I sympathize with a number of grievances brought forth by the Black Lives Matter movement and have followed many of the demonstrations and protests very closely (“Chief vows to investigate incident at Minneapolis protest over Madison, Wis., shooting,” StarTribune.com, May 14). While many Minnesotans don’t acknowledge the concerns of this movement and many more passionately disagree with the tactic of disruptive protests, I see the value these events bring to the movement by bringing issues into the news in order to generate public discussion. That being said, the actions of the movement’s leaders and participants often demonstrate a lack of sincere interest in dialogue to identify solutions. Instead, their demonstrations and interactions with both police and with casual, oblivious bystanders tend to seek out hostile confrontation in an effort to create shocking headlines. At the end of the day, is instigating racial hostility really going to accomplish any meaningful reform? Or, will it only encourage those who don’t understand the issue to avoid it for fear of being personally vilified?

Zach Schwartz, Minneapolis

BUDGET SURPLUS

With Democrats, it’s always tax, tax, tax, tax, tax, tax, tax

In all the reporting of the state budget discussions, we are never reminded that the Democrat majority raised our taxes by $2 billion just two years ago. Gov. Mark Dayton wants to raise our gas tax 16½ cents per gallon. Talk about an obsession by one party! Return the surplus to the taxpayers who earned it.

Chris Schonning, Andover

 

HEALTH INSURANCE

The system is too complex, but dumping assistance won’t help

MinnesotaCare covers those whose annual incomes fall between 138 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). Medicaid expansion covers those up to 138 percent of FPL. Via MNsure, people can get subsidies if their incomes are between 138 percent and 400 percent of FPL.

When will we as a nation stop making health care coverage so complex and piecemeal? When will we decide that for the health of our nation, our taxes should be spent to provide health care for all? And when will we work together to build a single streamlined system of health care financing that can achieve affordability by controlling costs and reducing waste?

Carol Krush, Minneapolis

• • •

State Rep. Matt Dean, in his May 14 counterpoint “Health care nostalgia vs. today’s reality,” thinks we should dump MinnesotaCare because it now serves “primarily low- and middle-income adults” instead of the “low-income children and their parents for whom it was designed 23 years ago.”

Since when do the working poor, small farmers, beauticians, etc., not deserve to have affordable health care? What kind of message does that send? While it is true that Minnesota’s current health care system is fragmented, without a seamless way to move from public insurance to private or back again without dropping care, changing providers and facing radical changes in personal cost, Dean’s piecemeal call to drop MinnesotaCare, without a careful revamping of the whole system during the waiver request process allowed in 2016-17 betrays his real concern, which is strangling government in order to please his ideologically driven wealthy funders and constituents. Costs and coverage for eligible families will rise dramatically, resulting in high-deductible plans that result in delaying care until absolutely necessary. This doesn’t save money. It will raise the cost of health care.

Of course, Dean’s real interest is in doing away with the whole thing and going back to the bad old days. I heard his case-of-one example presented in support of Dean’s bills during a hearing. While Charlie Dunker’s wife’s death was certainly a very sad event, in no way has it been shown to be caused by MNsure glitches. Making policy by means of a single anecdote is a cynical endeavor likely to result in bad legislation based on emotion, not on research and planning.

Carol C. White, Minneapolis

 

BEES AND INSECTICIDES

Legislators acquiesce, it seems, to nursery industry lobbyists

The Minnesota House of Representatives has passed a bill that allows nurseries to advertise a flower as good for bees and butterflies as long as it’s not toxic enough to kill them after one sip of nectar or single load of pollen. Neonicotinoids, the insecticide referenced in this change in law, doesn’t kill pollinators directly but, according to many scientific studies, causes disorientation so food can’t be found, and lowers resistance to other stresses that ultimately, over time, will kill. If the same standard of direct and immediate death from exposure to DDT had been followed, bald eagles, instead of making a huge recovery in population since the banning of that insecticide, would now likely be extinct.

It appears that the House has been manipulated by lobbyists to officially approve false and misleading advertising. A quick veto is in order if this bill makes it to the desk of Gov. Mark Dayton.

Greg Larson, Excelsior

 

RAIL SAFETY

Governor’s plan will detract from existing, helpful efforts

The May 9 editorial “Boost oil train safety before it’s too late” ignored many key facts. With rail traffic increasing over the past decade, railroads have responded to safety challenges by making major upgrades in track lines, using enhanced technology, increasing track inspections and investments in additional private resources in training rail employees and local first responders.

The editorial supports a plan from Gov. Mark Dayton that is misguided. The governor’s proposal would tax railroads $33 million per year for 10 years, with the funds focused on grade crossings. However, grade crossings are not a primary cause of train derailments. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, grade crossing accidents cause only 1 percent of derailments. Since 1980, the number of train accidents has dropped 79 percent, due in large part to significant spending by railroads on track and equipment. This year alone, railroads will spend more than $500 million to improve track safety in Minnesota. That spending will do far more to prevent derailments and protect our communities than will the governor’s plan to focus on funding construction of additional overpasses. Redirecting resources away from critical track improvements for the governor’s grade-crossing plan is the wrong approach.

Earl Currie, St. Paul

 

RELIGION

A wake-up call to Christians

I hope that millions of Christians are as troubled as I am regarding the new Pew Research Center survey of individuals’ religious affiliation (“Fewer in U.S. say they are Christian,” May 13). While it is unfortunate that most churches are losing members, perhaps the most drastic loss is of those 25 percent giving up their Christian roots, the so-called “nones.” Some may feel there are other paths to God, such as non-Christian faiths, while others just move on to many other interests.

There have been problems in churches, from uninspiring leadership, an unwelcoming community and child abuse scandals to competing interests in a very busy world. All church leaders and all faithful individual members need to be more proactive in welcoming and inspiring others back to their Christian roots. God will never give up on us; we cannot give up on God.

Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis