There is earned outrage over the current VA debacle facing our veterans with medical care, but equally disturbing is the long wait for VA benefits that help the aged and disabled. I personally went through this obstacle course of dysfunction (in applying with the help of professionals in the field) in seeking benefits for my father.

After 11 months of attempting to secure aid for him, he passed away without receiving any benefits. Major delays in verification (despite the fact that we had his original discharge papers) and excuses placed him in financial distress. And the policy is that once the individual passes away, the benefits that were to be retroactive are actually canceled altogether.

If you are a veteran, we as Americans thank you so much for your sacrifice and are embarrassed for the system you defended.

ED STEC, Maple Grove

• • •

The vets aren’t the only ones waiting. My mother retired from the St. Cloud VA last July and still has not gotten a retirement check.

MARY MAUS, Columbia Heights

STUDENT LOANS

Use 10-percent rule to ease this debt bubble

In this (once again) partisan discussion on student debt load (“Student loan plan fuels hot debate,” June 10), it occurred to me that we (all of us) have created this monster in the same way we did the home mortgage disaster. We provided loan money to these hopeful students with no thought given to their earnings potential upon graduation.

Imagine loading a new graduate with, for example, $50,000 in loans when they earned a degree in, say, classical Mongolian or art history. These are worthy fields of study, but really now, what are their job prospects and how long will it take these folks to pay off a loan of $50,000? Should we not take this into consideration when establishing eligibility for total debt load at the end of four years? The question about the relative value of areas of study is a separate issue. But given the current situation where the system allowed these students to bury themselves, it is incumbent on us to help them out.

It was a crime to allow foreclosures on peoples’ homes with no hope of refinancing when the system set them up to fail. It is also a crime to exact draconian payments from graduates who will never have the earning power to pay it back. I believe the 10-percent rule is very fair — no, essential to relieve this debt burden. Meanwhile, we had best establish policies to avoid this usurious practice in the future.

Harald Eriksen, Brooklyn Park

• • •

Democrats in Congress want to make college more affordable by shifting the burden to the taxpayers. We all agree that high amounts of student loan debt are a problem, but people need to take responsibility for their own behavior. The students chose to take the loans and they accepted the repayment terms and interest rates. Bailing people out of such situations encourages more people to get into those situations.

The recent graduate profiled in the article chose to go to a very expensive private university and to get an M.A. degree. He could have gone to a community college or a public university. He could have worked to pay part of his expenses and reduce the amount of debt. Instead he chose to take on a very large amount of debt. It was a choice that I would never have made, nor would I encourage my children to take on that amount of debt. Why should others be taxed more to reduce his burden?

James Brandt, New Brighton

 

CHILD SEX ABUSE

Selective memory on priests’ behavior?

Back in 1979, I recall asking then-Father Robert Carlson (“Cleric can’t recall abuse cases,” June 10) whether premarital sex was still contrary to Catholic Church teachings. He assured me that it still was. Hmmm, I wonder if he remembers that conversation now. Perhaps his memory lapses only involve priests, children and criminal law.

Lori Wagner Hollenkamp, Mendota Heights

• • •

While it is just remotely possible that now-Archbishop Robert Carlson did not know that priest-child sex was illegal, did he not — as a cleric trained in dealing with matters of morality — know that priest-child sex was immoral? Priest-sex per se is immoral, a contravention of the vows of celibacy. Child-sex per se is immoral, an abuse of childhood innocence. Thus priest-child sex is, prima facie, immoral. Is not morality more important than legality in a religious organization? Should not harsh steps have been taken to end immorality and punish the immoral?

Elaine Frankowski, Minneapolis

• • •

It’s time for the American Psychiatric Association to list “ecclesiastical amnesia” as a mental disorder!

D. R. Johnson, Minneapolis

 

LATINO AGRICULTURE

There’s farming, and then there’s farming

The article that told of Latino farmers who are getting started in the Madelia area was interesting. I applaud these new Minnesota growers of vegetables. The headline, however, was incorrect. If they were “Learning to farm Minnesota-style” (Business, June 9), they would be applying chemicals over thousands of acres and growing a monoculture of either field corn or soybeans. Vegetables that are eaten by people seem rather rare in Minnesota agriculture.

Chuck Nelson, North St. Paul

 

RED RIVER

We’ll be wading in water projects

So government wants to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to protect people who build on flood plains in the Fargo area, then dump some of the water on land owned by people who chose to live on higher ground (“Saving Fargo comes at a cost to others,” June 9). At the same time, government is spending tens of millions of dollars to bring water to dry southwestern Minnesota. To support these efforts, I think we need a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would go something like this: “In order to subvert markets, subsidize those who make bad decisions and penalize those who make good ones, the citizens of each state shall be entitled to unlimited funding for water projects.”

James M. Dunn, Edina

 

SUPER BOWL

I call unsportsmanlike conduct on the NFL

Regardless of any tax money involved in getting the Super Bowl and irrespective of any benefits from said Super Bowl (“NFL had long, pricey Super wish list,” June 8), the greed, entitlement and unmitigated gall exhibited by the NFL astounds me. And this from a 60-year football fan.

Tom McGraw, Buffalo Lake, Minn.