To the academic snob who wrote the May 22 letter about the perceived denigration of those nobles who have attended prestigious Ivy League schools while himself denigrating our own Winona State University graduate and U.S. Senate candidate, Kurt Bills, I can only say this: It is this kind of thoughtless and misguided thinking that has too many high school students believing that if you are not accepted into a prestigious university, then why bother at all?
The myth that coming out of such schools guarantees you success in this world has been greatly overplayed.
To say that Winona State does not attract the same caliber of student as Harvard, Yale and Columbia is just plain false. There are many fine young and highly gifted students attending every school in this nation, and their choice for choosing their school can be a result of many factors.
To suggest that Bills is less of a success story than President Obama and Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, when he is in the classroom every day and on the front-lines of helping our children to succeed, is an offense to anyone who is not among the chosen for the "big league." Bills, a teacher, is in the classroom every day helping our children succeed.
Many of those students come from Minnesota and stay in the state, and most people would agree that this is a great place to live in part because of our well-educated population.
MARY MCINTOSH LINNIHAN, Minneapolis
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The May 21 commentary on lending to the poor, like most liberal arguments to increase regulations, forgets the consequences ("A war on poverty, indeed"). While it's true that interest on short-term loans is high, without those loans some people would be unable to make ends meet. It is unfortunate that anyone needs to use these loans, but they do.
If companies are restricted on the interest they can charge, some or most will simply stop offering loans. You do not help people by regulating them. If people don't want these loans at higher interest rates, my simple suggestion would be that they do not take them.
BRADY ERNST, COKATO, MINN.
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In a recent commentary, Chris Fields, the Republican challenger in the Fifth Congressional District, suggested that Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison isn't working hard enough for Minnesota families, specifically poor families ("North Side needs attentive leadership," May 21). Fields' clever turns of phrase, such as "customized solutions" and "smart, selfless leadership" belie the evidence that Republicans' assault on services relied on by the poor -- and, increasingly, by the middle class -- leave folks to fend for themselves.
Republican cuts in programs for affordable housing, transportation and health care; its attempts to limit voting to a select few (Republican) constituencies, and its attacks on worker and civil rights all have contributed to the erosion of our communities.
Ellison has focused like a laser beam on alleviating the struggles of working-class families since he took office in 2008. Fighting the relentless Republican strategy to scuttle the American Dream, he has authored or supported bills to create jobs; protect homeowners, workers and consumers, and rebuild crumbling roads and bridges. To help pay for these, Ellison is asking the rich to invest in our collective prosperity by paying the same percentage in taxes as the rest of us do.
"Everybody counts, everybody matters" -- Ellison's motto -- describes his commitment to the American values of fairness and inclusion. Yes, it is that simple.
MONIQUE DUBOS, MINNEAPOLIS
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I'm scratching my head, wondering why a May 21 letter writer from Minnetonka responded with such vitriol to the insightful commentary written by a young St. Olaf College student ("Gender equality: A two-way street," May 17). The student was simply saying that women's equality is achievable only if both women and men take part in that endeavor. She reminded us that there was a terrible time when women could not even vote and that it took the power of men to change that. We still need men's help because there's still a vast imbalance of power between men and women in our society and worldwide. Equality benefits everyone.
I'm not sure someone who lives in an affluent suburb should point a finger at the perceived wealth of St. Olaf or Barnard College students. The letter writer entirely missed the wonderfully intelligent and insightful point that the St. Olaf student made. Women in all walks of life and in all areas of the world have historically been treated unequally with men; women and men need to work together to change that.
MARGARET SELTZ, AFTON
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I am honored to be an election judge in Minneapolis. I have served in two other states besides Minnesota. From my experience, there are many solid reasons for voter ID.
I have witnessed the lines move much faster when an ID is presented. Also, names can sound the same but be spelled differently. But it's not just the spellings. I have witnessed voters who are hearing-challenged or speak with a heavy accent. It is embarrassing for everyone when others struggle with their names. Many of these voters readily volunteered their ID to make the process smoother for themselves.
Where I previously served, it was noted that for health insurance cards, public assistance and other activities, photo IDs were very important. When there is an accident, photo ID is of utmost importance. Please investigate all of the pros and cons on this issue.
LAURIE VOLKMUTH, MINNEAPOLIS