A legal victory, but a loss for someone else

Last week’s feel good story is that of 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan, whose parents successfully badgered the courts and the media in order to obtain a lung transplant in Philadelphia. Sarah’s parents have expressed their thanks to the doctors involved and the family of the unknown donor.

However, there is a person who has gone unmentioned, and that is the unknown individual who would have received the donor’s lungs if Sarah’s parents had not persuaded a court to change the rules. I, for one, would like to hear what the Murnaghans would say to that person who is likely still waiting for a matching donor.

There is no easy way to determine which individuals will receive donated organs when the supply is far short of the need. The Murnaghans are elated because they were able to use public pressure to save their daughter’s life. But I’m not sure that they (or the media) appreciate that their actions may ultimately cause an unknown individual to die while waiting for a transplant.

William Glass, Edina

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Laws, history should stop arms shipments

Sending arms to Syria is a huge mistake (“U.S. to send arms to Syrian rebels,” June 14). We did that years ago with the Russian war in Afghanistan, and ended up supporting the terrorists. When are we going to learn history’s lesson?

Ceri Jensen, Chanhassen

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Our president has decided that a “red line” has been crossed in Syria, and it’s time to arm the forces that oppose the legitimate Syrian government in that civil war. However, arming the same Sunni insurgents that we call terrorists in Iraq is providing material comfort to terrorists and is illegal according to the Defense Authorization Act. I doubt that Obama will be prosecuted, but you or I could be, or worse. We could be jailed indefinitely, without habeas corpus, if we have friends or family in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia or Yemen and send them money to help them live. It’s time to demonstrate that we are a country of laws, not men, and apply the rule of law. Indeed, a “red line” has been crossed, but not the one the president or media are talking about.

Bruce Fisher, St. Louis Park

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In fact, it’s vital to world food supply

A June 14 editorial reprinted from the Chicago Tribune (“Farm bill fails Americans again”) called crop insurance a “giveaway” and accused agriculture of being on “welfare.” But if the farm bill is really doling out that much free money, and crop insurance is such a guarantee of big profits, why aren’t more farmers taking advantage?

Last year, 82,000 crop insurance policies were sold in Minnesota, and fewer than 15,000 had a claim loss filed. Nationally, farmers spent $4.1 billion out of their own pockets buying crop insurance and another $12.7 billion in losses as part of their crop insurance deductible. So farmers absorbed about $17 billion in uninsured losses and premium costs before collecting crop insurance indemnities, which totaled roughly $17 billion. In other words, farmers broke even.

The editorial was especially critical of corn farmers. But instead of providing insight and making honest arguments to advance the discussion, the authors stuck with the usual talking points and clichés used to bash corn farmers.

Fact is, farmers today are harvesting more corn on less land while reducing energy use, soil loss and greenhouse gas emissions. We’re planting corn because the world’s population is growing, and it’s up to farmers to provide the food, fiber and fuel to meet the increased demand.

It’s important that our food supply is protected. A farm bill with a strong crop insurance provision provides that protection and is anything but a “giveaway” or “welfare.”

Greg Schwarz, Le Sueur, Minn.

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Cost is in line with the needs and purposes

A June 14 article tells us that Obamas’ trip to Africa could cost millions. We also learn that the costs are in line with those of previous presidential trips, which also included spouses and children and even a safari. Finally, we learn that the majority of the cost is attributed to security, a necessary expense in these times.

The Obamas are traveling on business for us, the business of cementing relations with “emerging democracies [which] are crucial partners in regional security conflicts.” Mrs. Obama’s presence is diplomatically essential; security for our president is essential as well. They even canceled a safari to satisfy the sensibilities of cost-conscious Americans. Don’t make the revelations about cost into some kind of scandal. This is a business trip that costs what presidential business trips cost, nothing more.

Elaine Frankowski, Minneapolis

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Think twice, ladies; men are disgusting

Ladies, you need to take a trip (or two or three) to a public men’s restroom before you decide you would like to share with them (“Potty talk livens up race in 12th Ward,” Gail Rosenblum column, June 13). The rooms are filthy! There should be a hidden camera inside to discover how many men do not wash their hands before leaving. I asked my husband and what I’ve just told you is what he told me. Ask your own significant other.

Judy Grimes, Minneapolis