Home Debt Minneapolis City Council, 2024 primaries, national debt, U’s next president

Minneapolis City Council, 2024 primaries, national debt, U’s next president

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

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I was in the lobby at the City Council meeting on Tuesday (I arrived too late to get in the room). What did I see? A large number of people who are obviously settler colonialists in the lands of the Native American peoples, accusing the Jewish people of colonizing their own homeland (“In ‘defense of humanity,'” Jan. 24).

I am sure that characterization will make a number of people mad. I don’t really blame them. What, after all, is accomplished by throwing around such highly charged and derogatory terms? It rarely leads to a more complete understanding of political or historical reality, to an ability to live together or to a willingness to cooperatively solve difficult problems.

And that is the biggest problem with the resolution passed Tuesday by the committee of the Minneapolis City Council accusing Israel of genocide. It did not offer any helpful insights into the histories of the peoples in that land. It did not discuss the policies of the far-right Benjamin Netanyahu government or of the Israeli opposition parties. It avoided much acknowledgment of the atrocities committed by Hamas. It did not offer guidance on what Arab group might more peacefully lead Gaza or the West Bank. It didn’t differentiate between a goal of peaceful coexistence and the hoped-for total destruction of Israel espoused by many in the room (“From the river to the sea”). It didn’t offer ideas on how Hamas could be prevented from carrying out repeated Oct. 7-style massacres (which leaders of Hamas have said is their intention). It did not discuss a pathway to establishing a Palestinian state (which I support). It didn’t discuss the role of Iran (which murders young women for showing their hair!). It didn’t discuss any role other Arab or Muslim states could play. It was more interested in highlighting the term “genocide.”

The council’s one accomplishment with this resolution was to satisfy self-righteous anger and hatred against the one Jewish state in the world and increase the fear among our Jewish population that antisemitism has followed us into what we thought was our safe home in America. Fanning hatred and misunderstanding is never a proper step toward peace and freedom.

Michael Schwartz, St. Louis Park

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Dear Minneapolis City Council members,

Now that you’ve achieved peace in the Middle East, could you please devote some of your time in this new term to other problems such as homelessness in our city, fully staffing our Police Department to legally required levels and bringing back businesses to our downtown? After all, I don’t recall any of you running on the former issue, but I do seem to remember some of you having positions on the latter issues.

Jonathan Beck, Minneapolis

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN

Behold your (potential) voters

I am looking at Nikki Haley’s loss in New Hampshire (“Haley: Race ‘far from over’ after Trump’s N.H. win,” front page, Jan. 24). While a defeat for her, it could be a win — a gift for President Joe Biden if he plays it right. Haley won more than 43% of the vote, which means that a sizable number of Republicans wanted somebody other than Trump. My advice to Biden is to find out not so much why they voted for Haley but why they didn’t vote for Trump. Maybe there is an opportunity to grab a few of the less hard-core of this group.

Joseph Tilli, Wayzata

NATIONAL DEBT

Say it with me: Debt crises are bad

The ink had barely dried on my letter challenging the Jan. 19 letter “Is the situation really so bad?” when the commentary “Who’s afraid of the big, bad debt?” appeared on Jan. 22. A different letter writer did a good job of pointing out the fallacies of both pieces in his letter “The situation is really this bad” on Jan. 23.

The latter letter writer’s analysis of the taxes included in the revenue side points out the difficulty of raising existing taxes. While we will hear a lot about taxing the rich, any new form of taxes would likely be in the form of consumption taxes.

I fear his analysis of expenditures will come up short of future demands. In “Who’s afraid of the big, bad debt?” Jacqueline Murray Brux’s litany of good deeds she sees as necessary is espoused by most of our socialist politicians. Indeed, interest expenses may be understated due to more debt and higher interest rates. Our appetite for foreign conflict — military and political — will only exacerbate pressures to increase the defense budget.

And then, dwarfing the recorded debt are the unfunded liabilities facing the federal government. The Cato Institute estimates that Social Security and Medicare alone amount to more than $150 trillion. The American Enterprise Institute offers a more modest estimate of $93 trillion.

So, what does the future hold? I find nothing in history to support Brux’s conclusion. Venezuela and Argentina were once strong economies that have experienced a fall from grace. Capitalism is what made this country great. Socialism works until someone has to pay for it.

Nick LaFontaine, Richfield

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Of course our national debt matters. When the federal government spends more than it takes, the economy is stimulated. Tax burdens matter too, with those profiting more from society paying proportionately more than those with lower incomes. This is true when you look just at federal income taxes, where the rich do pay more. But when you look at total tax burden, including FICA, state and local taxes, the richer you are, the less proportional burden you have. We definitely need to increase the effective tax rate on corporate executives and wealthy individuals that game the system to pay less than their fair share. Tax reform should encourage corporate investment in factories and infrastructure rather than executive salaries and bonuses.

Bradley Stuart, Brooklyn Park

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA

Pressure’s on in presidential search

These days, university presidents are constant targets of critics, Congress and donors. This clash of politics and academics is an ugly brew and undoubtedly a factor in the current search for a new University of Minnesota president.

That momentous hiring will come to a head next month. It is now in the hands of the U’s Board of Regents.

On behalf of the 800-plus members of the University of Minnesota Retirees Association (UMRA), we urge the regents to be aware of our new leader’s overwhelming challenges and the required skills. (The UMRA sent a letter found at tinyurl.com/UMRA-letter to the Board of Regents urging them to be keenly aware of the overwhelming challenges the new university president will face and the immense range of skills the new president will need.)

Besides character — the most critical attribute — higher education experience profoundly matters. There is no room for on-the-job training for a leader of a global academic institution with five campuses, 60,000 students, hospitals, big-time athletics and a commitment to affordability for Minnesota’s families and to free speech.

We also need someone who can shake the perception that the U is aloof, arrogant and elitist. We need someone who will gain respect from our faculty, students and staff and who relates well to the people of Minnesota and our legislators and governor. It is a massive, complex, endless job.

The University of Minnesota is a precious asset that educates our state’s young people, providing the intellectual vibrancy and human capital for Minnesota’s businesses, industries, governments, health care providers and nonprofits. We urge the regents to find and hire a dynamic leader with a sophisticated and comprehensive higher education background.

This letter is signed by Eric Hockert, UMRA president, and Julie Sweitzer, UMRA president-elect.

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