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As a teacher, I was disappointed some years ago when the decision was made to remove all the teeter-totters and merry-go-rounds from playgrounds because they were deemed unsafe. I was annoyed because this equipment is a very effective way to teach basic scientific concepts such as balance, gravity and centripetal force. But now I see a very sinister outcome of this shortsighted decision.

Our democracy is an ingeniously crafted teeter-totter. For more than two centuries while the national political pendulum has swung back and forth between conservative and liberal, the fulcrum, or center of balance, between the two parties has shifted smoothly with the prevailing opinions. Sometimes one side is heavier, and then a generation later the other side increases in weight, and through it all the fulcrum of this wonderfully designed teeter-totter accommodates these shifting opinions by moving a little this way, and then a little that way as the situation demands. In the process a balance between the two is always maintained.

But now we have one side whose ambition is to take all the weight unto itself and obliterate the opposing side. This effectively eliminates the very need for the teeter-totter itself. This side no longer recognizes a need for the fulcrum that has held everything up. In other words, rather than seek some degree of balance between all of the players on the teeter-totter, it would rather disassemble the entire equipment and bring the whole enterprise crashing to the ground.

The survival of the teeter-totter of our democracy is very much in the balance. If you know someone who is inclined to vote for the removal of this vital equipment, please talk to them now. This is a science lesson that we all need to understand thoroughly before the big test Nov. 3.

Thomas Kendrick, Minneapolis

THE PANDEMIC

‘Closed’ border? Not so much

A letter writer stated on Oct. 2 that President Donald Trump closed our borders shortly after the COVID virus attacked the U.S., thus saving millions of lives. This is false.

The borders were closed to only foreign nationals who had been in China in the prior two weeks, but not most other nationalities. In fact, according to the New York Times, after China disclosed the outbreak, at least 430,000 people arrived in the United States on direct flights from China, including 40,000 in the two months after the travel restrictions were imposed. Unfortunately, most of these arrivals were not subject to testing or quarantine, free to travel throughout the United States.

It’s impossible to determine how many lives would been saved by restricting all travelers from China during this time frame, but we do know wearing masks in public and exercising social distance does saves lives.

Tom Winn, Richfield

CLIMATE CHANGE

Some problems require global fixes

Our neighbor’s house is on fire. And if we don’t start taking action on climate change, the problems will be mounting here as well. Our changing atmosphere is affecting different areas of the country differently. In California, it’s record-high temperatures and fires. In Minnesota, mega-rains of more than 6 inches are more frequent than in decades past. Warmer and wetter winters are increasing the incidence of insect-borne disease. But it’s not just warmer temperatures; the polar vortex we had in 2018 was a result of a loopy jet stream that brought severe cold from the Arctic.

Don’t just think of it as global warming. Some are using the term “global weirding” to describe weather events that are just different and more extreme than anything in the past: droughts that are more severe, floods that are bigger, storms that are more harsh due to the added heat in the atmosphere.

We all value our individual freedom. But some problems can only be solved through collective action and a plan. The largest source of our warming atmosphere is fossil fuels, and a small number of companies are responsible for the majority of global emissions. They need to be reined in before it’s too late.

This fall, we need to elect representatives who recognize the need for action, people who value the precious gift our earth is, and creative thinkers who will work to find solutions.

Paulette Cervenka, New Prague, Minn.

MINNEAPOLIS HOUSING

Actually, this is just the right project

The counterpoint about Minneapolis’s housing inequality, “City’s inequality is a deliberate policy choice” (Opinion Exchange, Sept. 18), is a misleading exercise of rhetorical jujitsu that pays homage to the goal of creating more racially and economically diverse neighborhoods in Minneapolis through mixed-income housing policy, but then opposes the low-income Broadway Pizza site proposal that would advance that very goal in the Hawthorne neighborhood in Minneapolis. The commentary is yet another example of “not in my backyard” opposition to inclusive housing policy in the concrete, while professing support for the goal in the abstract.

Like the author, I live in the Hawthorne neighborhood of Minneapolis, and the neighborhood consists of two sections that are geographically separated by Interstate 94 and highly stratified by income and segregated by race. The western section is much larger and more densely populated; it is majority Black and lower-income. It is what’s typically understood as part of “north Minneapolis.” The eastern section is much smaller and sparsely populated and is relatively affluent with residents living on the riverfront. This section of Hawthorne is near to the booming North Loop of Minneapolis, dominated by high-end real estate development. This section of Hawthorne is where the low-income housing would be built at the Broadway Pizza site. As a resident, I can attest that this is not an area plagued by concentrated poverty and its pernicious reverberations.

Minneapolis desperately needs mixed-income neighborhoods in the service of justice and opportunity, and the eastern section of Hawthorne should lead by example.

Ryan Lewsader, Minneapolis

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA

Loss of track, field will reverberate

As a high school track-and-field coach for 45 years, I began to consider the impact of Minnesota dropping its men’s track-and-field program on boys’ high school programs. Our best athletes will still get scholarship offers from other Big Ten universities. With a women’s program and first-class facilities, the state would still be in the rotation to host Big Ten meets. Yet, I am still concerned for three reasons.

The damage is subtle. My male high school athletes will not be able to imagine themselves wearing the maroon and gold. It will be more difficult to follow the collegiate careers of the older athletes who they competed with in high school or watched as elementary students. They won’t be able to watch their former teammates or competitors compete in the fieldhouse in the winter or at the outdoor track in the spring. They will not be inspired by stories of local lads winning titles, qualifying for Nationals, or making the university team. They will continue to strive to excel, but it will seem less tangible.

The same hurdles will make recruiting students to join track and field more difficult.

Finally, in our state we have many former Gophers as head and assistant coaches and volunteers. Many of our officials competed in their youth as Gophers. At clinics our athletes attend, many Gophers speak and instruct. Those individuals will be gone.

Minnesota high school track will suffer from the loss of the University of Minnesota men’s team.

Bill Miles, Minnetonka

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