Child abuse

We must start by training parents

The letter of the day on Thursday (“Concerted effort needed on suspected child abuse,” May 22) stated that more guidelines and laws are needed to detect children who are abused and get them the help that they need. What about guidelines for parents? We require a license to operate a several-thousand-pound vehicle down busy roads, but none when it comes to raising children. Forget detecting abuse. How about we start trying to prevent it in the first place?

There is no reason why parents should be given the benefit of the doubt that they know how to raise a child, and only give them remedial help if they mess it up. Such training would go a long way in preventing outside abuse as well, as parents could be trained to know who is a risk for abusing a child and what to look for so that abuse outside the family can likewise be prevented. I think we’ve spent far too long looking to catch abuse after it happens and not nearly enough time focusing on how to prevent it in the first place. And that includes the dozens of cases we hear about sexual abuse. Interventions need to be made so that young adults and teens get help with attractions to minors. Jerry Sandusky started as a teenager once. What countless acts could have been prevented if he had a support system available to help him then?

Jeff White, St. Paul


Prison fence

Just do the math: This a boondoggle

It is hard for me to applaud the Legislature and the governor on the passage and signature of the recent bonding bill (“Tax cuts, big-ticket projects now law,” May 21). The security fence for the Shakopee women’s prison is a prime example of a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money. It is literally a solution in search of a problem. The Legislature allocated $5 million for construction of a “secure perimeter fence.” As far as I can tell, there have been seven escapes from the women’s prison in the last 17 years, through 2012. Simple math tells me that we are paying over $714,000 per escape to construct this perimeter fence. Good gosh, whose brother-in-law in the Legislature will get the contract for this waste of money?

Imagine what other waste permeates this bonding bill. Wake up to the daily malfeasance in our state government. Oh, I forgot, you’re too busy cheering the fact that we won the right to host a Super Bowl in a taxpayer-built and -financed stadium. No wonder you don’t care about small things like this.

David R. Smoker, St. Paul

Veterans affairs

Planning for war neglected warriors

When I was growing up, the old guys were always going out to see the “vets.” It was such a pejorative statement associated with necessity and the lack of funds, I thought they were going to see an animal doctor. They laughed a lot when I asked them about it and told me it was about the same. The Vietnam conflict ushered in a new era at the VA and brought in new procedures and treatments and improved care, but like yesterday’s news, out of the spotlight, it languished. The rapid run-up to the ill-advised second Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan, and the unexpected flood of seriously wounded patients with uncommon injuries, swamped the unprepared and atrophied system. The Republican supermajority was big on war profits but poor in planning and paying for a war that went all wrong. They really neglected the warriors with overextended and repeated tours, insufficient pay and support, and a decrepit hospital system.

Enter President Obama: With an absolutely worthless and hostile Congress in a quagmire of bad debt from poor management and thwarted oversight and a hangover of guilt from irresponsible and unjustified war and foreign policy, even getting approval of appointees was a struggle, let alone getting help for those that their policies maimed. If the Republicans want to examine VA failures, they should get a mirror and take a good hard look at themselves.

John Crivits, St. Paul

• • •

Maybe Sen. John McCain should have been using some of his ceaseless commandeering of microphone time to discuss the Veterans Affairs problems in his own state of Arizona rather than trying to inflate the now-empty Benghazi investigation.

Pat Ryan Greene, Minneapolis


Administrator pay

No glory in being near the top of this class

Not surprised to read the University of Minnesota is “top-heavy” (“U is playing defense again on ‘top-heavy accusation,” May 19). Even at the height of the depression (2009), the U was supposedly imposing a wage freeze, while planning a 2 percent increase in compensation for the army of administrators. This while raising student tuition every year. Do not believe the adage “What goes up, must come down.” It does not apply to the number of or compensation to U administration personnel. Students will pay more so that the U faculty and administrators will get raises. Do not be proud that we are in this Top Five.

Michelle Peterson, Plymouth


How things work

Memo to George Will: Incumbency counts

George Will makes the observation in Thursday’s column (“The land of 10,000 campaign finance rules”) that “all the laws that regulate campaigns have been written by incumbent legislators.” To that I would reply: “That’s the way it works in this country, George. The people who have been elected to office make the laws. Duh.”

Eric Hammar, Mankato