If you’re wondering whether Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ heart episode and the installation of two stents should knock him out of the 2020 election, I can only say that many people experience this very same condition at much younger ages than his and have quick and complete recoveries (“Sanders recovering, will join in next debate,” Oct. 4). In the late fall of 2017, I had been having similar symptoms — lightheadedness, shortness of breath, achy chest. I was sent to Abbott Hospital on Dec. 7, just weeks before my 66th birthday, and doctors discovered 95% blockage in a main artery. I had four stents installed that day, and after a short rehab period (about three weeks), I resumed all my usual activities, including basketball, weightlifting and snow shoveling.

If you think Bernie is too old to be president, or if you prefer another candidate for political reasons, then vote for someone else. I don’t think, however, that this stent surgery should have any bearing on your voting decision. To me, it’s a nonfactor.

Loren W. Brabec, Braham, Minn.

IMMIGRATION AND WORTHINGTON

A few questions that the mayor didn’t address in his counterpoint

In an Oct. 3 counterpoint, Worthington Mayor Mike Kuhle gave facts and figures on the economic situation in his city and spoke a lot of truth: Yes, new residents revitalize a community. Yes, residents aren’t racist toward foreign workers, but “circumstances” lead to problems in this community (“In Worthington, immigrants help us grow, thrive”).

But there were important things he didn’t say.

1) What are wage standards at the food processing plants? Do these workers have health care through their employers? Or are they hired because they will work for less and their health care is subsidized by taxpayers?

2) Yes, everyone pays some taxes and contributes, but workers earning low wages who have large families do not pay much in income taxes. They also probably don’t own a home and may pay real estate taxes through their rent, but many would qualify for Section 8 housing subsidized by taxpayers.

3) If the Minnesota Legislature must help with funding school bond issues there because of the influx of large numbers of non-English-speaking students, then all Minnesota taxpayers are subsidizing education in Worthington and other towns that depend on low-paid foreign workers.

What this comes down to is taxpayers subsidizing industry. If jobs in Worthington would pay enough to attract U.S. workers, these workers could be independent and would pay their own way. Isn’t this what we think of as the American way, integral to the (original) American dream?

Linda Huhn, Minneapolis

RENT CONTROL

Might not be the best solution, but can’t be dismissed so easily

Are the Star Tribune’s opinion editors mounting an under-the-radar campaign to nip in the bud Minneapolis’ consideration of rent control? That’s how it appears, with the paper running two anti-rent-control editorials in the lower-profile “Other Views” section of the editorial page within a two-week span (Washington Post, Sept. 25; and Bloomberg, Oct. 4).

Having recently dug into research on rent control on behalf of a client, I am well aware of the policy’s limitations. Rent control protects current renters at the expense of new arrivals, discourages maintenance of controlled properties, and leads to condominium conversion of rental housing and otherwise skews the housing supply to those with greater financial capacity.

But research also shows that rent control policies are effective in limiting displacement of lower-income families and seniors, and the research is inconclusive regarding whether the rental supply is constrained by those rent control policies excluding new development. Further, researchers point out that other local policies can limit condo conversions and require adequate maintenance of rental housing.

In summary, as a short-term emergency response one can defend rent control — as bad as it is over the long term. This is much like utilizing inexpensive trailers to house people after a devastating hurricane. Rent control might not be the best solution to a crisis in housing affordability, but it cannot be dismissed out of hand as a bridging strategy.

Researchers who either focus on rent control flaws or its successes do agree that a better approach is to increase the rental housing supply and provide subsidies to those still priced out of the market. This solution is expensive but not unattainable here. Rent control should be considered in Minneapolis and debated on its merits of fitting into an overarching housing policy based on expanding supply and access.

Chip Halbach, Minneapolis

The writer is an affordable-housing consultant and volunteer.

HEALTH COVERAGE

Short-term plans won’t be reliable in a crisis; politicians must act

I was grateful to see the Star Tribune’s Sept. 20 editorial regarding short-term “junk” health plans. Every day I work with families who are facing the struggle of serious illness — blood cancers, in my case — and these families need to be able to count on their health insurance to deliver meaningful coverage during a crisis. Short-term health plans don’t offer reliable, affordable coverage.

The day you hear the words “you have cancer” is a devastating time to learn your insurance doesn’t work the way you were told it would. More needs to be done to protect Minnesotans from overuse and misrepresentation of short-term plans, which are short in medical benefits — not just duration.

Congress is not the only lawmaking body that should be working on this issue. The Minnesota House passed bills in 2019 requiring companies selling short-term plans to deliver more value on the dollar for what they’re selling, and restricting the duration of short-term plans to 90 days, renewable once within an 18-month period. Ten patient-advocacy organizations, including national organizations like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, supported these proposals.

The Legislature missed a great opportunity in 2019 when both chambers failed to expand consumer safeguards for short-term plans. Join me in calling on both chambers to take meaningful action on short-term plans in 2020 with quality, affordable health coverage that will protect all Minnesotans.

Teri Cannon, Minneapolis

The writer is executive director of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Minnesota/North Dakota/South Dakota chapter.

GLOBALISM

An anthem to humanity? Here’s one example

An Oct. 3 letter writer wondered about an anthem to humanity. One of sorts already exists. Lyrics have been added to Jean Sibelius’ “Finlandia”:

“This is my song, O God of all the nations, a song of peace for lands afar and mine. This is my home, the country where my heart is; here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine; but other hearts in other lands are beating with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

“My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean, and sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine; but other lands have sunlight too and clover, and skies are everywhere as blue as mine. I hear my song, thou God of all the nations, a song of peace for their land and for mine.”

 

A beautiful rendition of this song is sung by Cantus.

Mike McDonald, St. Paul