The Oct. 12 article about ethanol derived from nonfood sources (“Beyond the corn”) raises more pressingly than ever a question that American agriculture has ignored for years: Will this country finally discover the myriad advantages of raising industrial hemp? Hemp requires little or no fertilizer or pesticides and grows well even on poor soils. It is extremely productive and has endless uses, from making high-quality paper and clothing to auto body parts. Its seeds are an excellent source of omega fats; its oil can be used as a lubricant — on and on. It would make a fine feedstock for producing ethanol and also for livestock. The potential for this plant is huge.

Can we now finally get past our hang-ups about its connection with marijuana and begin to benefit from this amazingly versatile plant? Minnesota will be left behind other states like Colorado and Kentucky if we don’t take the initiative to develop the industry here. What are we waiting for?

Steve Anthony, Minneapolis

ABORTION

North Dakota measure is perfectly clear: Life

The Star Tribune’s “Attack on abortion in North Dakota” editorial (Oct. 12) presents arguments for opposing legislation that seeks to prevent the killing of unborn babies. One of the Editorial Board’s arguments has to do with “troublingly vague wording of the amendment. … The measure reads: ‘The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.’ ” This is “vague?”

Editors, here’s a simple way to work through your difficulty: Break the sentence down into the three concepts: 1) Right to life of human beings; 2) always; 3) protected. There you are. You’re welcome.

Jerry Kassanchuk, Golden Valley

 

RACE

Epiphany abroad can’t solve issues at home

While well-intended, Brandon Ferdig’s Oct. 12 commentary “Race relations: An awakening” warrants considerable skepticism. He writes that in America, “perhaps no other issue [than race] raises as many red flags. … And the last 6 months of my life [in Tanzania] have convinced me that the loudness of the debate [on race] is more of a problem.”

Let’s make one very important distinction: Tanzania is ethnically diverse, but it is not racially diverse. While there are many different tribes and ethnic groups, people look similar to one another. The United States is both racially and ethnically diverse. Simply put, America is a land where people are either advantaged or disadvantaged depending on the way they look — that is, the color of their skin.

I cringe when college-educated white people purport to have such an epiphanic perspective on culture and race after spending time abroad.

I wholeheartedly reject Ferdig’s notion that “racial differences are irrelevant.” I challenge him to tell this to young people in Ferguson, Mo., who are currently struggling to get the message across that black lives matter in a country that has neglected them for so long.

Gary Lussier Jr., Minneapolis

 

JEFF JOHNSON’S POLICIES

Let’s not make our state like Kansas

Having followed the news, and having read Minnesota gubernatorial challenger Jeff Johnson’s positions (“Evangelist for austerity,” Oct. 12), I have an observation and three questions:

You advocate the same policies and positions as Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, almost to the letter. Kansas has high unemployment and soaring poverty; its economy can best be described as a disaster, and it has had their credit rating lowered six times now. Now you want to do the same to our state.

My questions? Why do you hate Minnesota? Why do you hate Minnesotans? And do you truly think we are that stupid?

Gary Pruitt, St. Paul

 

CHARITABLE GIVING DOWN

Blame DFL policies, cultural secularization

Lee Schafer’s column in the Oct. 12 Business section laments the trend that high earners have decreased charitable giving in recent years. I especially liked the headline: “Those with most cash keep it for themselves.” Schafer seeks out experts to explain the drop. He states that giving comes out of discretionary income — the money after the monthly bills are paid.

Maybe he should look at the laws passed by Gov. Mark (Tax The Rich) Dayton and his DFL Legislature. A clue could come in the ads in which Dayton brags about his accomplishments. Any simpleton could figure out how he and his cohorts steamrollered higher earners with massive income tax increases to pay for bigger government programs. Maybe the “fair share” that people now have to pay the state used to be the “fair share” they donated to charitable organizations.

Steve Carr, Bloomington

• • •

What Schafer failed to point out is research that points to people’s religious beliefs having more impact on their giving than their level of income. Here’s an excerpt from a report by ABC News, citing a survey on charitable giving:

 

“Finally, the single biggest predictor of whether someone will be charitable is their religious participation.

Religious people are more likely to give to charity, and when they give, they give more money: four times as much. And Arthur Brooks told me that giving goes beyond their own religious organization:

‘Actually, the truth is that they’re giving to more than their churches,’ he says. ‘The religious Americans are more likely to give to every kind of cause and charity, including explicitly nonreligious charities.’  ”

(Source: “Who Gives and Who Doesn’t?” by John Stossel and Kristina Kendall, Nov. 28, 2006.)

 

Is it possible that the secularization of our culture is removing a religious motivation for giving, especially for the affluent? We continue to ignore God’s plan for healing our land at our own peril:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14.)

Dana Masek, Shoreview

 

PRO HOCKEY

One enforcer down; another in his place

I’m currently reading “Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard,” by John Branch. I woke up Wednesday to see that the Star Tribune is promoting the Minnesota Wild’s new enforcer (“Carter takes on hard-nosed role for Wild,” Oct. 15). Similar articles were once written about Boogaard. Wild fans and Star Tribune readers should read the book. They probably will quit cheering the fighting.

William Runyon, St. Louis Park