Readers Write (Feb. 16): Guardian ad litem program, farm bill, the working poor, stealing from hotel breakfasts

  • Updated: February 15, 2014 - 8:50 PM

The guardianship system works in the interest of parents, not children.

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GUARDIANS AD LITEM

The system steers kids back to poor situations

As a former guardian ad litem for Hennepin County, I agree with the conclusion by a current guardian ad litem that the “system acts in the best interests of the parents rather than the best interests of the children” (“The boy in the closet,” Feb. 9). During preparatory training, our class was repeatedly taught this orientation and bias. We were actively encouraged to do all possible to reunite the family.

Once, a former child (now adult) under protection who was permanently placed in foster care was invited to speak to us of his longing to have returned to the parents who abused him. Another time, in a meeting with an abusive mother to stake out a new plan for her improved behavior so she could reunite with a teen I represented, I asked her a simple question: “What about your commitments you made today should make us believe you will fulfill them, when you have not fulfilled your previous commitments?” It was a valid and serious question that resulted in the mother cursing me and no further answer.

The guardian ad litem role should represent the best interests of the child. I resigned because I could not tolerate the repetitive return of children or babies to environments in which one or more of their caregivers abused them. If the system changes to offer these children better options with either foster parents or adoptive parents who will not be abusive, I would rejoin.

DONNA STERNBERG, Eden Prairie

 

FARM BILL

It’s not like subsidies only flow in rural areas

The Feb. 9 editorial on the new farm bill seemed to imply that farmers get subsidies and urban workers get nothing.

Let’s compare tax treatment of income for a self-employed farmer and an urban worker. FICA rate for a farmer: 15.3 percent. Worker rate: 7.65 percent (employer rate 7.65 percent, given to employee tax-free). The farmer pays his own health insurance and workers’ comp, and doesn’t get unemployment insurance or matching funds for a 401(k), all of which are given to urban workers tax-free. There is also local government aid (cut off for townships in 2001, minimal amount added for 2014), and grants for city water, streets, curb and gutter, sewer and water mains, historic buildings, state bonding, etc. — all of which are designed to keep city property taxes low, and none of which are means-tested.

Any special tax treatment like this that applies to the upper income brackets you would call a loophole. If you are looking for funds for a noble cause like helping the poor, the least you could do is pay taxes on all your income instead of always looking to tax others.

DARCY KROELLS, Green Isle, Minn.

• • •

Steve Sack’s Feb. 9 editorial cartoon about the farm bill shows a bloated scarecrow representing agri-biz subsidies and a puny scarecrow representing food stamps. Elsewhere in the paper, an article on the farm bill states that about 15 percent of the money will go to subsidies for farmers and that “most of the rest of the money in the almost $100 billion-a-year law will go to food stamps.”

Fifteen billion to subsidies and around $80 billion to food stamps? Which scarecrow should be puny?

Bob Knoch, Apple Valley

 

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