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Minnesota is known for its relatively high quality of life, and it’s also home to some of the world’s most creative and cost-effective nonprofit organizations. And it is not unreasonable to assume a link between these two blessings. Many Minnesota nonprofits are close to the ground and nimble, allowing them to understand, react to and begin to solve community problems long before any unit of government even recognizes said problem. It’s the Minnesota way.

So it was a surprise to me that it is necessary to bring in Provident Resources Group, of Baton Rouge, La., to build a water park at the Mall of America (“Nonprofit will own water park at MOA,” July 4). And I was quick to notice the Star Tribune’s description of PRG as an organization that specializes in “lessening the burdens of government.” Which “burdens,” I wondered, are we talking about? My visit to the PRG website found this claim repeated often, but nowhere could I find an explanation of what this means.

This left me to speculate about which “burdens” these might be. Is it the burden of transparency and openness? The burden of paying living wages to those who build or operate? The burden of including minorities among the workforce? The burden of restrictions on how much the administrators will be paid?

I’m a fan of water parks; my grandkids love ’em. And as a person who spent my entire career in the nonprofit field, I am also a fan of nonprofits — and supportive of their tax exemptions. Having a “charitable purpose,” the legal requirement for tax-exempt status, is a low bar, and I don’t doubt that “lessening the burdens of government” meets this test. But it has long been my opinion that, to ethically justify our tax exemptions, nonprofits ought to be performing functions that neither government agencies nor for-profit companies can perform.

It is not obvious how a water park at the MOA meets that test.

John K. Trepp, Minneapolis

CLIMATE CHANGE

We can rise to a national challenge

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy proposed that the U.S. should commit itself, before the decade was out, to landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth. In 1969, we achieved that goal. We should now commit, with help from our global allies, to reverse, by the year 2030, the effects of global warming on our planet. Vote only for a political candidate who will agree to this goal.

Douglas Johnson, Minnetonka

JULY 4TH CELEBRATION

I didn’t donate to a vanity parade

I donate generously when visiting national parks in the belief that my contributions will be used for very-much-needed park repairs and maintenance. That is how park signs say donations will be used.

But now President Donald Trump is diverting $2.5 million of National Park Service funds to pay for his July 4th vanity parade (“Cost of 4th fete not yet tallied,” July 5). He is telling us by his actions that national parks have $2.5 million more than needed. As a result, I feel like a bait-and-switch victim. So, fool me once, but not twice. I will resume donating to the national parks as soon as the president or his supporters replace that $2.5 million to the National Park Service from their own personal funds.

Gary Loff, West St. Paul

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

It doesn’t represent me anymore

I went to an event at my granddaughter’s school the other day, a school attended by Somali and Tibetan immigrants, Mexican-Americans, Hmong, black and white students, and a mix of other immigrant children. Before the event began, we were required to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. I thought about the words as we recited it, and about its convoluted history.

The pledge was written in 1892 by a socialist minister named Francis Bellamy. The original was simply: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added in 1923. It wasn’t until 1954 when President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God” in response to Communism.

As we pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and “to the Republic for which it stands,” I thought how desperately some people are trying to enter our country do just that and are being turned away. I also thought about the immigrants standing among me and the new allegiance they were building.

As we continued with “one nation,” I wondered about the state of our republic. Are we still one nation, or the divided nation of “reds” and “blues,” of liberals and conservatives, of MAGAs and MAGA detractors?

“Under God,” we said, and I thought of the multiple religions represented in the room, and which God each of them thought of.

“Indivisible,” the pledge says. But are we? At a time when the country seems more divided than any time since the Civil War, are these words representative of who we are today? Particularly in regard to the last words — “with liberty and justice for all.” With the jails disproportionately full of people of color, with detention centers filled with children pulled from their families, with judges letting off accused rapists because they come from good families, can we say there is justice for all?

I understand why a city government would abandon these words, as the St. Louis Park City Council decided to do. I don’t think I will continue reciting the pledge until I can again feel the words are representative of “the country for which it stands.”

Sandra Hager Eliason, New Brighton

SACK CARTOON

Ivanka Trump has no diplomatic skills. We can critique her for that.

Steve Sack’s July 3 cartoon about Ivanka Trump is not harsh, it’s just an accurate reflection of her background. She has no diplomatic training or skills, and if she weren’t the president’s daughter she would have never made that trip to the G-20 Summit. It’s embarrassing to see her trying to butt into the conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron and others as they politely try to ignore her.

Judy Vollmar, Hudson, Wis.

• • •

Sack’s cartoon should have illustrated the real issues. Nepotism, violation of the emoluments clause, lack of expertise by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in international and domestic affairs (yet they still travel as our “ambassadors”). Please do not implant stereotypical matter in her brain! Hers is a calculated, underestimated rise to family self-enrichment, both economically and egotistically.

Linda D. Spanier, Sartell, Minn.

• • •

Sack’s endless left-wing cartoon diatribes are very tiresome, although I’m sure they give great gratification to the Star Tribune’s liberal readers. His mean-spirited caricature of Ivanka Trump, a very attractive woman, as having grotesque features and huge oversize lips is way over the line — very middle-schoolish and petty. Why is there never even pretense of balance in political cartoons on a regular basis? The editorial page should be a forum for all views to be expressed, and Sack’s monopoly on daily cartoon commentary becomes a slanted tirade.

David Leitschuh, Evanston, Ill.