Opinion editor's note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.


Clive Crook's commentary ("An extravaganza of unfitness," Opinion Exchange, May 2) on a possible Donald Trump/Joe Biden rematch is one of the best and most unique I have seen here or anywhere in a very long time. His analysis is excellent because it is both spot on and frightening. It is unique in that almost no sentient American voter could possibly disagree with it, and, in fact, most would applaud it — perhaps with tears of appreciation in their eyes. It is easy to blame both parties and their primary system for this travesty and rightly so. There is another huge factor left unsaid here, however, and that is the impact of money; it has totally polluted our political system. There are so many bribes, er, I mean so much money, going to so many different interests — parties, politicians, the media, lobbyists, consultants — that it is impossible to make any changes that are for the benefit of our country. So here we are left with no good choices.

Crook is correct that this is a terrifying moment for the so-called greatest democracy in the world. That descriptor has been suspect for a long time but will be confirmed as a lie if either of these sad, old men become our president in 2024.

As always, in the end we citizens will pay the greatest price.

D. Roger Pederson, Minneapolis


The commentary "The truth about the Biden economy" in the April 28 Star Tribune Opinion Exchange appears to articulate some compelling achievements of the Biden economy. Perhaps his approval rating is so dismal because people in his administration (and not Biden) are perceived as the real reason for these apparent successes. This raises the question — who is really running this country? Many feel it is not Biden because he is too weak and slow. In addition (and possibly more important), aside from any successes stateside, people perceive a weakness by him on the world stage in diplomatic relations. There is great concern over the world order and potential domination by Russia and China. Is Biden the one to go toe-to-toe with these leaders? Most people would probably say "no."

The media masterfully covers up Biden's various gaffes, so it is difficult for the average person to witness his failings. If he is intent on seriously running for the 2024 presidency, he clearly needs to do an about-face from his previous campaign. Rather than hiding in his basement, he needs to be energetic, visible and out front so as to articulate his accomplishments and beliefs vis-à-vis the competition (and without the use of cue cards and prompts). He should encourage debate with the Republican nominee and be prepared to articulate what he has done and what he will do so as to diminish the perception that he is old and incapable of being an effective leader. Anything short of this will result in the public seeing him as someone unqualified to lead our country.

Richard Foley, Edina


In his commentary in Tuesday's issue, Crook asserts that neither Biden nor Trump are fit for office, offering copious reasons why the latter's term was awful, including chaotic and incompetent government, the riot and assault on the Capitol and multiple civil and criminal lawsuits, including one with allegations of rape. Biden, on the other hand, is alleged to be doddering, unable to understand his own policies or remember his own past, despite both legislative accomplishments and widely reported fiery, unscripted ripostes to such weak criticism. Oh, and he also repeats vague allegations of the president's son's misdeeds. (Somehow, Trump's children escape his gimlet-eyed gaze.) Oddly, despite bemoaning his being one of the two bad choices, he never identifies any actual downside to the Biden presidency thus far. His attempt to equate the two is a common but useless trope among the pundit class. However, the careful reader comes away with the sense that Biden is the far superior candidate.

Timothy R. Church, St. Paul


Prudence required

Friday's tax plan comparison was a valuable public service, but comparing is difficult even for tax geeks like me ("3 tax plans: Who gets what?"). I suggest doing less now, followed by redesigning tax and other systems in 2024.

First, spend a lot now on rebates, with little or no relation to income level because the pandemic has been stressful for Minnesotans of all income levels.

Second, Social Security should not be further exempted from tax. Relief should be focused on those who need it because their incomes are so low that they have difficulty meeting their needs. Reducing child poverty and child care costs makes more sense.

Third, tax increases look ridiculous given the state's surplus and the risk of reducing Minnesota's competitiveness. Better to focus efforts next year on broadening bases and cutting rates, where there is enormous potential for raising revenue if needed and also increasing competitiveness.

Fourth, we could have more efficient, more accountable government by redesigning some aspects of the tax system to make the system more fair, reliable, understandable, efficient, environmentally friendly and competitive and redesigning the state/local government relationship by shifting from controlling inputs to managing for results. Prime candidates for redesign include the property tax and local aid systems, transportation funding, the human services delivery system, the use of refund and credit programs to mitigate regressivity, shifting business tax burden from producing in Minnesota to selling into Minnesota from out of state, and broadening bases and cutting rates of the sales and income taxes.

John James, Little Canada

The writer is former Minnesota Commissioner of Revenue.


Thank you, Lori Sturdevant, for your helpful conversation on Social Security taxes ("On Social Security taxes, Minnesota seniors need a talking to," April 25). As a Social Security-receiving senior myself, I am disappointed in how some legislators talk down to, and not with, us on this important issue. Many seniors recognize that full elimination of Minnesota income tax on Social Security income is not about helping struggling seniors but rather an effort to defund public education, public safety and public health. We are not as dumb as some of us may look. We recognize that the proposal passed by Minnesota's House will benefit all of Minnesota. Indeed, my friends in rural Minnesota suggest that the need for affordable child care, health care and elder care may be even greater in their small towns than here in the Twin Cities.

Michael Troutman, Minneapolis


Enough posturing

David Hann's piece in Monday's newspaper is a fine example of why so many former conservatives are leaving the Minnesota GOP ("DFL coddles criminals, cracks down on cops," Opinion Exchange). Republicans do not develop plans or useful ideas to correct and improve our society. Rather, they waste our time throwing mud at almost all ideas from outside their ranks. Instead of specific suggestions or new ideas for improving law enforcement, Hann wastes readers' time criticizing others. Get tough on crime! Bear down on violent criminals, he writes. Now there's some serious stuff, right? We need careful, thoughtful, practical ideas to discuss, debate and craft. Not more political rants.

Carl Brookins, Roseville


While David Hann, chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota, excoriates Democrats for failing to keep Minnesotans safe, he neglects to address the elephant (no pun intended) in the room — the proliferation of guns in our society. So to paraphrase the challenge that Hann gave to Democrats, I urge Republican lawmakers to put their partisan agenda aside for the good of our state and work with Democrats to make Minnesota a safer place to live for all. Unless we get some commonsense gun control, no one will be safe.

Susan Yanta, Hugo


A point regarding Hann's expression of the fearmongering Republican mantra in "DFL coddles criminals, cracks down on cops": The cops they're cracking down on are criminals!

Brian Miller, River Falls, Wis.