There's nothing cushy about it
An Aug. 17 letter writer would have everyone believe that welfare moms have lifestyles equivalent to holding down $24-an-hour jobs. Based on my experience, there is no way that is true. If the writer had her way, my daughter would never have been born; I would have had no choice but to have an abortion. Yet my daughter is graduating from the University of Minnesota this year with honors.
In 1991, I got $527 a month from AFDC, plus $96 in food stamps. My rent was $495, and it took a year to get child support started. When I needed a car to get a job, I had to pay the whole year's insurance premium up front. There was no legal way to accumulate that kind of money. In short, the rules were rigged to keep a woman down and her children behind the curve.
At the time, Newsweek featured an article by a friend of mine who made an extensive study of welfare moms and found that most were working the equivalent of a full-time job just to make ends meet. It is a constant scramble for many, and too much for some to rise above. Since that time, rules have gotten stricter about work requirements. While I don't know specifics, I am SURE there is no one on welfare living as if they make $50,000 a year.
If we want all people to raise hardworking citizens, we have to be willing to pay to support that. Morality is not bought by paying taxes, nor does wealth entitle anyone to a sense of spiritual superiority.
LAURA FRYKMAN, MINNEAPOLIS
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Funding choices can be proactive
A solution to issues raised in the Aug. 15 article "Cost of day care exceeds college" is to fully fund the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) in Minnesota. Lack of adequate funding means a wait list of nearly 8,000 families, and 82 percent of eligible children are not enrolled in the program statewide, according to Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota.
The article stated that the average cost of child care for an infant in Minnesota is $13,579 per year -- that's nearly a year of wages for a person working a minimum-wage job full time. A single mother living in Minneapolis with three children, including one infant needing child care, would have to earn more than $22 per hour working full time to afford basic needs including child care, according to an analysis by CDF-MN. More than half the current jobs in the metro area pay less than that, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Originally, CCAP was a bipartisan effort by legislators who realized this dilemma of needing to work and affording child care. They recognized the individual and community benefits of CCAP: It makes work possible for parents, reduces welfare participation, stimulates the economy through increased workforce participation and productivity, and provides adequate early childhood education to ensure school readiness and reduce high-cost remedial services. It's time legislators come together again to restore full funding for CCAP so we can all reap the savings.
STEPHANIE HOGENSON, MINNEAPOLIS
The writer is an outreach specialist for the Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota.
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Cost savings can be found; who benefits?
I recently read an article that suggested ways we can help our health care system save money. It suggested that diagnostic/lab work and preventive screenings that are done regularly or annually are less expensive in your doctor's office than in a hospital setting. I have my annual mammogram done at the Hope Chest Breast Center at North Memorial Hospital. It is the only preventive screening that I have done annually in a hospital setting, so I decided to make some calls and compare.
My North Clinic doctor's office charges $200 for a regular screening mammogram plus $68 for reading it -- total: $268. If I got that same mammogram at the Hope Chest Breast Center, it would be $308 and the reading $115 -- total: $423. That's 58 percent higher. I was shocked.
Before I wrote, however, I really wanted to know who would benefit from the savings: Medicaid or my supplement, UCare. UCare said it wouldn't release that information to me. I really want to have me, Ms. Taxpayer, ultimately but indirectly save the extra $155. Why can't I know who benefits? Why is it a secret?
Even though I may never find out, I will switch my mammogram site to my North Clinic doctor's office this year. You should make some calls, too.
ELAINE M. ZIMMER, BROOKLYN PARK
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Injustice seems built in to government action
It is instructive that the British government is now intent on extraditing Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, when it refused to extradite Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 2000, a man responsible for the torture and killing of hundreds of innocent people. Compare also the American government's treatment of whistleblower Pvt. Bradley Manning with that of Col. Oliver North, a man who engineered the clandestine sale of arms to Iran, an enemy of the United States. Two more examples of the asymmetrical treatment of people on the left side of the political spectrum with those on the right.
STEPHEN KRIZ, MAPLE GROVE