Without work, where is the purpose in life?

Michael Nesset’s commentary on retirement struck a chord with me (“Retired at last! Oh, the joy. The dread …,” June 9). My dad suffered a stroke when I was a teen, and I’ve been working ever since. I know nothing other than work. I have to feel there is a purpose to each day, and when I’m not working, I wake up wondering what to do. I, too, am anxious about my transition into retirement. I’ve delayed taking that next step because I know it will make me face the fact that my life is winding down. I don’t feel ready to face that yet. It was comforting to hear and see those thoughts from someone else.

HARRIET LINK, Woodville, Wis.

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Multitasking drivers compromise road safety

Minnesota lawmakers should seize the opportunity to lead the country in warding off a pernicious threat to us all: new communication technology in vehicles (“High-tech devices are risky for drivers,” June 13). The evidence has been plainly documented that using these devices is as much of a threat to public safety on the road as drunken driving is. Let’s take quick action to address this significant problem.


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We should have had a national debate first

U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said that he was “very well aware of” the NSA surveillance programs that are now making news, because he was briefed on them. If this is the case, doesn’t integrity and his oath of office demand that he challenge the baldfaced lies that the head of the NSA, James Clapper, told to Congress? If the program is a healthy one for the nation, as Franken asserts, why was its implementation hidden from the public? Why wasn’t its efficacy debated by our chosen representatives? Possibly, just possibly, the senator doesn’t understand our form of government.


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Fact: Without a gun, no one would have died

We don’t know if George Zimmerman was neighborly, pleasant and friendly, or whether he was angry, belligerent and confrontational (“The Trayvon Martin case, take two,” June 10). We don’t know if Trayvon Martin was polite and respectful, or angry, defensive and aggressive. But we do know this: Had Zimmerman not been carrying a gun, Martin would be alive today.


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Poor health insurance is partly to blame

The June 9 article describing the increasing problems facing special education departments at public schools was good, but left out an important fact: Schools are forced to handle more and more mental health problems because more and more families cannot afford health insurance, and fewer and fewer insurance companies cover any mental health care (“Special ed teachers quitting as need rises”).

For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota recently stopped covering health care for autism, leaving thousands of families out in the cold. Families and schools would suffer much less if mental health care were affordable to all families. Millions of Americans, and our public schools, desperately need health insurance reform and affordable, universal, single-payer coverage.


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Americans have lost faith in government

It is indeed true that security and privacy are on a teeter-totter and that neither can be complete. But the government that is doing the surveillance does not have the trust of many American people.

The Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups went much further than delaying or denying 501(c)(3) status. Something that should have been front-page news (and would have been if this were a conservative administration) is the fact that IRS released a confidential list — the names and addresses of donors to a promarriage organization — to a progay organization that posted them on its website.

For those who need help connecting the dots, this opens those donors to persecution and has a chilling effect on other potential donors. Can we have a resounding condemnation of that?

ROSS OLSON, Minneapolis

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Critic wrongly blames them for learning gap

The only argument that commentary writer Gary Marvin Davison can muster as to why classrooms aren’t “excellent” is that teachers are members of a union (“Guarding the status quo in our schools,” June 22). This kind of non sequitur argument pleases anti-union extremists and fits nicely with the illogical fantasy world inhabited by many right-wing politicians, but it fails to shed light on the actual problem.

There is research that points to early childhood education, a stable home environment, involved and supportive parenting, and good nutrition as factors that influence the success of children in schools. Teachers, whether members of a union or not, who seek and adopt best practices to help students achieve graduation and go on to college understand these conditions, even if they are unable to compensate for them during the school day. When we underfund schools, disparage teaching as a career and try to micromanage outcomes with political agendas, we get what we have today.


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Juicing is for wimps. Eat your carrots

Fruit and veggies should be consumed in the simplest form, rather than squandering resources making juice (“Drink your veggies,” June 11). Consume the whole product and compost peelings, etc. Juicing uses electricity, which has a high environmental price tag. Keep it simple — don’t be a wimp.