Should people who use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (the program formerly referred to as “food stamps”) receive more federal assistance if they choose to shop at higher-priced grocery stores (e.g., Byerly’s) than people who choose to shop at lower-priced grocery stores (e.g., Cub)? I don’t think so.

Those individuals who think different amounts of aid should be given based on choice may be more likely than others to favor the proposal to forgive all student college loans. The analogy of grocery stores to colleges is not completely far-fetched. Higher-priced stores and higher-priced colleges (often private) have more pleasant surroundings, more personal services and probably a greater range of offerings. But, higher- and lower-priced stores all offer the basics, e.g., milk, eggs, produce, ground beef, etc. Higher- and lower-priced colleges all offer the basic intro courses in English, math, social sciences, sciences, etc. Forgiving debts because someone chose to go to an expensive college instead of a less expensive college is bad policy.

Policy changes that would benefit college students and society include: public funding for the first two years at public colleges and vocational-technical schools, giving people the option of refinancing loans, and expanding loan forgiveness for individuals willing to work in communities that are having a difficult time attracting professionals in certain service areas.

Elaine Hauff, Minneapolis

BERNIE SANDERS

Socialism has a long history in our country — as do its electoral failures

Socialism is not new in American politics. The most well-known socialist and political activist was the novelist Upton Sinclair, who ran for the governorship of California in 1934. Running as a Democrat, he championed a program “End Poverty in California” (EPIC). Just before the election, he wrote that EPIC was “polling the largest vote ever cast in a California primary.” He hoped to end poverty by taxing the super rich (taxes on high-value property) and promised a better life for all. He managed to get more than 879,500 votes but he was defeated by Republican Frank Merriam, who branded Sinclair as a radical and who received more than 1,138,600 votes. Not a landslide, but a significant defeat for one of the most prominent and praiseworthy socialists in the 20th century.

Eugene Victor Debs was the Socialist Party presidential candidate five times. Sen. Bernie Sanders would undoubtedly do better than Debs in a national election, but the history of socialists getting elected in America does not have a great track record. The Socialist Party had only two members in the U.S. Congress: Meyer London from New York, who served 1915-19 and 1921-23, and Victor Berger from Wisconsin, who served 1911-13 and 1923-29.

The ideals of socialism, as with EPIC, are inspiring, but the prospect of socialism in an election does not inspire confidence.

Charles Taliaferro, Minneapolis

• • •

The Democrats have themselves to blame for the mess they’re in with Sanders. If they wanted to block him for being outside the party proper (as indeed he is. He is a Democratic Socialist — they have their own party!), they should’ve done so back in 2015, when he first ran. But they didn’t want to alienate the legions of Young Turks that he brings to the table. So they have repeatedly allowed him to function within the party. And now they are going to pay the price.

They could’ve made nice with him back in the day, but that would’ve involved clarity and confrontation, and heaven forbid anyone engage in such sordid pursuits. They don’t have that opportunity anymore. Millions of idealistic young voters are going to feel twice-violated. There is no way they’ll support Joe Biden.

I was a part of the Republican Party apparatus back in 2015-16 that tried to block Donald Trump from the nomination. We failed miserably, but then the party “succeeded” in the fall. (Please note the quotation marks.) The Democratic Party, on the other hand, succeeded fantastically in blocking Bernie. But it will fail miserably in the fall.

The irony is breathtaking. Life is funny, skies are sunny, bees make honey.

Harry Kelley, St. Louis Park

• • •

There is a lot of talk about people being afraid to vote for Sanders for president. You can’t be more worried to vote for Bernie than to vote for a second term for Trump.

You already know what Trump is capable of — he is destroying the Constitution of the United States. He is getting away with it because the GOP is more interested in its own power and pocketbook. Bernie will not get carte blanche with a Democratic- or Republican-leaning Senate and House.

Becky Carpenter, Minneapolis

BOATING

Our no-wake rule has succeeded

Thanks to the foresight of the city of Lakeville and the Lake Marion Association, Lake Marion has had a 200-foot no-wake zone for years (“Responsible wakes on the lakes,” Opinion Exchange, March 5). The association and the city put out marker buoys to inform boaters where they need to go slow. The bills HF 3770 and SF 3624 (which would put in place the 200-foot rule across Minnesota) would be good for our lakes and state. Lake Marion is one of the nicer lakes in the southern Twin Cities area, and having the buoys has been great!

Thomas Klausler, Lakeville

BWCA

Say no to mining, but yes to jobs

By all means, let’s not put our beloved Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness at risk from foreign mining companies (“Message is clear: Protect the BWCA,” editorial, March 4). Our fellow Minnesotans who live up north don’t want that either. But they do want the decent-paying jobs that mining would bring, so the rest of us need to do a lot more to provide alternate jobs for them. We shouldn’t let them bear all the costs of a decision to prohibit mining. The rest of us need to step up to help provide them with the infrastructure and opportunities that are needed for decent-paying jobs up north.

We all need to have a financial stake in the consequences of a decision to prohibit new mining.

Rob Super, St. Paul

THE GOPHERS

Minnesota pride in California

This is not about politics or world problems. Rather, what I am writing about is pride. My wife and I winter in Palm Springs, Calif. Prior to going, I have a ritual of choosing two caps to bring (every bald guy needs protection from the sun). I have a collection of caps — grandchildren’s colleges, sports teams, etc., and this year I chose our local football teams, the Vikings and Gophers.

I mostly wore the Gopher cap (it looked better) and I became the center of attention. I was stopped by so many people my wife became jealous. The overall commentary was, “Great team, row the boat, you should be proud,” and I was even stopped by a North Dakotan claiming their team was better and a Nebraskan who told me he wished their program was as good as the Gophers. Only one person made a negative comment about our coach, but I think it was sour grapes as he was a Western Michigan grad.

So I want to thank the Gopher football team and coach for putting a smile on an old grad’s face!

Allan Salita, Class of ’64

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