I appreciate the heart behind Jennifer Brooks' June 17 column ("Because Deona cared, she died"), but she fails to grasp the impact of the protesters on the Uptown neighborhood.
Blocking Lake Street — not just with "dumpsters and debris" but also with property from nearby — does not just "ruin everyone else's commute." Uptown is a place we call home — we live here, we work here, we drive and walk its streets every day. Businesses that have struggled so hard to survive the pandemic and rioting following the murder of George Floyd may not survive this latest siege. That means lost livelihoods, lost jobs. Those of us who live and work in Uptown are people of color, white, gay, straight, trans, young, old and of all income levels. We are enduring nightly roars of speeding cars on streets where families and kids live, helicopters (flashbacks to the ones hovering over our house when Lake Street was burning), and the fear and anxiety of wondering when the whole thing is going to blow up. I, my husband and my neighbors have been verbally harassed by these "peaceful protesters."
I am all for peaceful protest. I agree with the goals of the movement for racial justice. I do not support the tactics used by this particular group of people. Killing Uptown will not save Black lives.
Nancy Carlson, Minneapolis
I take issue with Jennifer Brooks' sympathetic view regarding the noble cause Deona Knajdek acted upon in Uptown Minneapolis.
Peaceful protests, unfortunately, are inherently dangerous these days. According to Brooks' own admission, "Across America, drivers rammed into crowds more than 100 times in the first months of last year's mass protests over the murder of George Floyd." Deadly incidents such as these are widely publicized on many news outlets throughout the country. Therefore, knowingly putting yourself at risk by cutting off traffic with your vehicle to protest is foolhardy. Congregating in a simmering pot of unknowns where confrontation and righteous indignation is at the forefront is risky business.
As a mother of two little girls, Knajdek rightfully set a good example of standing up for what she believes in; yet, also as a mother, taking the risk of losing your life is a tragedy in the making.
My heart goes out to her devastated young daughters.
Sharon E. Carlson, Andover
This letter is in response to a recent tweet by Minneapolis City Council Member Phillipe Cunningham:
The National Guard serve our country; they protect us, our freedom and our democracy. Sadly, in Minneapolis, they are being used to protect our city because you and eight other council members decided to stand on stage a little over a year ago and proclaim your intent to "end" the Minneapolis Police Department.
Guard members have admirably served our state overseas, losing their lives for our country. They have been deployed throughout the state in times of need such as flooding and during the COVID pandemic. They have been called to action in Minneapolis more than once to protect property, assist with traffic control, escort firefighters under attack and to ensure people can peacefully assemble. They guard critical infrastructure like hospitals and government buildings, freeing up police officers to be on the front lines. These are our neighbors, our family members, nurses, teachers and blue-collar workers. They are city of Minneapolis employees. One is my son.
What the Minnesota National Guard is not is a pawn to be used in your political game. To paint them as "eager for war" due to a careless tweet by a young soldier is despicable and you owe a public apology to all that serve. You should be thanking them for leaving their families and putting their jobs on hold to answer the call of duty from a beleaguered Minneapolis. I am ashamed you represent our city.
Brandi Bennett, Minneapolis
We weren't quite that malicious
I read with interest the opinion piece "New brain science may break junk food's grip" (June 14) by Michael Moss.
Moss asserts that "much of what's being sold at the grocery store and fast-food restaurants is more seductive than we knew. It's designed to make us want to eat more, and in ways that impede our ability to say no." He implies that processed-food manufacturers are purposefully manipulating consumers.
As a retired, 35-year product developer at a major consumer foods company, I would like to share an insider's view and shed some light on the real intentions of food manufacturers. Historically, processed food products were invented to meet the needs of busy consumers. Mothers moving into the workforce did not have time to cook and bake, thus the solutions brought forth by today's consumer foods companies. Our real intention was to meet consumer needs.
For more real intentions, consumer food companies do strive to make foods their customers like and will purchase. When I developed a new food product, I made a concerted effort to improve the nutrition. I did this by maximizing healthy nutrients — fiber, whole grains and protein — and minimizing less healthy ingredients – sugar, sodium and fat. It was a careful balance between what consumers liked and the optimization of food formulations. There was never, ever, any ill-intent or food product design to get consumers addicted.
All foods can be part of a healthful diet — in moderation. Every processed food package contains serving size and nutritional information. Following serving sizes is a simple, effective way to manage weight. Moss's assertion that processed food companies are responsible for the 42% obesity rate fails to acknowledge one's personal responsibility around food consumption.
On the flip side, I was excited to read some of the new strategies for curbing appetite. These are sure to benefit so many who struggle with overconsumption.
Lisa Vala, Plymouth
Not so easy to reform
The article "Uber-rich pay scant income taxes" (front page, June 9) minimizes important factors that would have given readers a fairer view of what would have to change to extract more tax revenue from wealthy people. The current state of the tax code may not be extracting revenue as you think it should, but it is not simply the product of some conspiracy to engineer tax dodges for the wealthy; that is just populist hyperbole.
The article makes the fair point that taxable income mainly consists of W-2, earned income and capital gains. To the extent that we use different rates to tax those sources, we are disproportionately focusing on earned income for tax revenue. That can be effectively altered by (1) mechanical changes in the capital gains tax rate vs. ordinary income tax rates, (2) limitations on the deductibility of capital losses against capital gains, and (3) forcing more capital gain income onto the W-2.
But the article goes on to make the glib statement that we could also tax holding gains and wealth. Despite the claims of Elizabeth Warren and associates, there is no easy valuation for the vast amount of non-traded assets, and thus no reliable way to measure net worth. Net worth numbers that can be found in sources like Forbes are at best rough estimates. That is why the tax code is so focused on wealth generated at the transaction point; it can be measured and verified.
Household wealth that is not held in cash or traded securities consists of privately held (non-traded) companies, real estate, trademarks, copyrights, customer information, contracted talent and so on, none of which is easily valued and none of which is liquid. That is why we measure a farmer's income on revenue less expenses rather than the increase in farm value. You might introduce a tax on wealth, or the growth in wealth, but my guess is that it would still focus only on reliably verified wealth, i.e., publicly traded securities, not on all assets. So, it would miss a huge part of wealth for some and not others, and create a big incentive to shift wealth from publicly traded assets to private assets that are harder to value. This would potentially make for less transparency in the way individuals and companies do business.
As soon as we figure out a fair and valid way to measure the value of someone's holdings that includes everything, we can have a serious conversation about wealth tax. Before that, it's just cheap talk.
Regina Anctil, Minneapolis
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