I, among many thousands of other Twin Citizens, will be hitting the local farmers markets soon. I can’t wait! We’ll be feeling good about the fact that we will be providing fresh-from-the-farm produce for our families. When we get home, after time spent in the hot sun, we will head to our taps and draw ourselves a glass of water. For many of us in the metro area, that glass of water originates in the Mississippi River. I don’t want to know what they have to do to that water to make it palatable.

Legislators, wake up! There must have been a time when you had ideals. You must have entered politics for the right reasons. Go to your distant past and try to remember the ideals you once held close and start doing the right things for Minnesota. Take some pride in your home state — our fairly polluted Land of 10,000 Lakes. I propose a sit-down dinner for all of the legislators opposed to Gov. Mark Dayton’s buffer proposal. The featured dish would be walleye, fresh caught from Mayo Lake near Pequot Lakes; a heaping helping of Pines-to-Potatoes from Park Rapids; a glass of water from the municipal wells of Adrian, and, of course, a starter salad from the Minneapolis Farmers Market to make you feel better about yourselves.

Ken Johnson, Golden Valley

YOUNG WORKERS

Higher education will be needed; this is not ‘fantasy’

An April 27 article (“Higher ed for most? Not so fast”) asserts that only 35 percent of Minnesota jobs require more than a high school diploma while criticizing our projection that 70 percent of Minnesota jobs will require a postsecondary credential.

That’s wrong. Even the article’s authoritative source — the Bureau of Labor Statistics — doesn’t agree. The BLS has stated on multiple occasions that its data should not be interpreted as measures of economic demand for education. The data are subjective judgments by analysts to describe the minimum entry-level requirements for individual occupations.

The figure of 35 percent also defies common sense. Already, 60 percent of Minnesotans have postsecondary credentials, and they benefit financially. Minnesotans with two-year and four-year degrees earn a median $50,000 per year; Minnesotans with a postsecondary certificate earn $32,400, and those with only a high school education earn $27,000.

The article refers to the 70 percent goal for postsecondary achievement in our study as “nonsense” and “fantasy.” But is it? The proportion of the state population with a credential is already at 60 percent and has been growing by 1 percentage point per year. There is no reason to think that growth won’t continue.

Anthony Carnevale, Washington, D.C.

The writer is director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

 

INFANT MORTALITY

Food programs could help — but here, too, a disparity?

Minnesota Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger says that a key to further progress is dealing with racial disparities (“Infant deaths show racial gap,” April 30). Improving access to exercise and healthier food in low-income neighborhoods would be one step in the right direction. Another would be addressing the lack of paid maternity leave in low-wage jobs, which are more likely to be held by minorities.

Unfortunately, a 2013 Star Tribune article displayed data depicting 2011 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program distributions, and 78.4 percent of recipients were white. Though SNAP is just one example of government aid, perhaps it is telling of who receives support in this state. It could be true that 78.4 percent of recipients were white simply based on the sampling pool to choose from within Minnesota’s population, or perhaps it is just yet another example of a striking disparity. The disparities need to be carefully examined and be eliminated to help reduce poverty and the health risks (infant mortality) that come with it. Potential solutions need to be evaluated on a systemic level, as it is a multifaceted issue.

A.J. Twiss, St. Peter, Minn.

 

OBESITY

Fitness is overstated as a need for a well-functioning military

In order to be alarmed by the message from a group of retired generals who stated kids today are too fat to qualify for the armed service (“Generals: Suck in the gut, Minnesota,” May 1), one must first buy into their implied premise: that in order to function well in the military, one must be physically fit.

This premise is without merit. Nine of 10 military men and women serving in a war zone are working in what is known as “support.” Most of those support jobs require little or no physical fitness.

While serving in Vietnam, my 100-man unit functioned perfectly well, with 100 percent of us needing no physical fitness requirements to perform our duties. To those generals who spent their precious time telling us what we already know — that our kids are too fat, eat too poorly and don’t get enough exercise: Your report with regard to qualifying for the military is much ado about nothing.

Robert Statz, Onamia, Minn.

 

PATRIOT ACT REVISIONS

This is progress. It’s also shows that Edward Snowden was right.

The May 1 article on the legislation pending in Congress to revise the Patriot Act amounts to yet another vindication of Edward Snowden. First, it was the revelation that the United States was spying on the elected leaders of our allies in Europe and elsewhere. Now, it is the bipartisan bill pending in Congress to stop the government’s mass collection of personal phone data. And note — in this day of total lack of bipartisanship in most realms, here’s a bill with significant support from both parties. Now it is time to bring Snowden home as a virtual “whistleblower” with a guarantee of no charges to be filed against him. Indeed, he could be of considerable assistance to us as we continue to review our overreaching security system.

Orytha Svien, Minneapolis

 

GUTHRIE THEATER

Good. I’m not the only one who dislikes the cramped seating.

I’ve been validated! For several years I’ve complained about the lack of legroom in the McGuire Proscenium theater. Now there is another patron speaking out (“Readers share hopes for the Guthrie’s next stage,” April 26).

When the planning was done for the new Guthrie, I cannot comprehend why those responsible would build a theater with no legroom. Any variation of restless leg syndrome is agony while seated in that theater. I am of average height, but my knees were up against the seat in front of me during my visit and there was no way to change position. It was so uncomfortable for my guest and me that at intermission we asked to change seats. We spent the rest of the show in the first row, where we could stretch out as much as we wished. I vowed to never attend that theater again, and have not.

At least now there are two of us being heard. (The seating around the Thrust Stage is a bit better.)

Nancy Quirin, Bloomington