State court ruling won’t end accountability

Almost everyone obligated to pay child support can still be held accountable for nonpayment after the Minnesota Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Larry Nelson case (“Unpaid child support not same as no care,” Feb. 13). Anyone who doesn’t can be the object of a civil contempt proceeding to secure compliance with a court order to pay child support. In civil contempt proceedings, a party faces confinement in jail as the sanction for noncompliance.

In contempt proceedings, a hearing is conducted where the nonperforming party is given the opportunity to show that they complied or reasons they failed to do so. The court must find that there has been a failure to comply and whether confinement will aid compliance. The nonperforming party is given the ability to avoid confinement and can do so through compliance or a good-faith effort to conform.

In Nelson, the Supreme Court recognized that criminal prosecutions were intended for what it called “profoundly delinquent parents” who ignored multiple obligations. It characterized these as “egregious instances of parental neglect.” As a result, criminal prosecutions for nonsupport are rare, and the Nelson case will have little impact on the usual enforcement of child-support orders.

The good news is that civil contempt proceedings have been and will remain a successful means to obtain compliance when parties are balking at paying child support.




Obsession with tests inhibits young people

While many educators and parents will celebrate the news that the number of students taking Advanced Placement tests has doubled in Minnesota in the last 10 years, they should really be worrying about the insidious implications of excessive standardized testing, including everything from the AP test to the ACT. Time spent teaching to and studying for exams that measure how well a student can memorize material and use tricks is not going to benefit young people in the long run. It’s amazing that even though many agree that creativity will be the most valuable asset in the future job market, we are still encouraging our students to put aside personal growth and deep thinking to make time for the regurgitation of limited curricula.

ALYSSHA MAES, Eden Prairie



Managers ought not shy from the hiring ‘risk’

A Feb. 13 commentary proposes a $4 minimum wage for hiring the long-term unemployed so that, assuming the government subsidizes these hires, employers assume less risk when hiring the long-term unemployed. However, risk is inherent to management positions that oversee hiring. That’s why hiring managers are usually paid more than the workers they hire.

If employers really wish to help the long-term unemployed, they should give them interviews and treat them like any other job candidate rather than waiting for the government to subsidize the risk.




The media could use a little consistency

The Star Tribune Editorial Board wants Congress to protect rights of journalists (Feb. 12). Yet the board has consistently called for more gun laws, most of which will not stop crime but will limit rights of citizens who do not break the law.

Any government that limits the rights of free, law-abiding citizens from owning guns eventually will also limit the freedom of the press.

It may be argued that forcing journalists to disclose sources may be used for law enforcement purposes more effectively than limiting firearms ownership among law-abiding citizens can reduce crime.

U.S. media need to protect all rights enshrined in the Constitution, not just their own.

BOB GREEN, Bloomington



Artificially low prices lead to shortages

When it comes to addressing drug shortages, economic factors aren’t just “a contributing factor,” they’re the main factor (“Persistent drug shortages frustrating U.S. doctors,” Feb. 11).

Most of America’s drug shortages arise in the generics market, where profitability is fairly low. This market can sustain only a handful of manufacturers, so when supply disruptions occur, there aren’t a lot — or in many cases any — additional producers in the market to pick up the slack.

Drugs that hold relatively stable prices, on the other hand, tend not to experience shortages, according to an October 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In other words, artificially low prices caused mainly by government programs — ranging from Medicaid to the problematic 340B discount drug program — have caused shortages. Where there’s still a profit, there are rarely shortages.

Peter J. Pitts, New York


The writer, a former FDA associate commissioner, is president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.