In reply to Julie Klosterman’s Jan. 11 counterpoint “In defense of the hearing aid industry,” all I detected were more excuses for the high prices of hearing aids. The colleague whose information she cited said, “There are 37 million Americans who need hearing devices but will choose not to do anything about it this year. If all 37 million decided to enter the market, the price would come down.” The key words here are “choose not to do anything.” What choices do we have? You will not get the “37 million Americans” to purchase hearing aids, because they cannot afford them. I know. I’m one. Period.

Sharon Paulson, Hopkins

• • •

Klosterman insists that the cost of hearing aids is not a real problem. She quotes an “interesting fact” from a hearing aid sales manager who states that those who receive health services in socialized countries have “the exact same adoption rate of hearing devices.”

No, they don’t. A 2012 study has the rate at more than 42 percent in Norway. The United Kingdom, which has socialized health care (National Health) has a usage rate of 41 percent. Switzerland, also with government-provided health services, is at almost 39 percent. The U.S. is at less than 25 percent. (See

Tim Culver, Bloomington


Reasons to participate, but more ways than one to go the distance

In response to Vicki Pieser’s eloquently written commentary about the Women’s March on Washington (“I’ll be marching for a whole lot of people — past, present and future,” Jan. 12), I say: Go, girl!

It is never too late to get involved in issues we feel passionately about. Now more than ever.

I marched in the 1960s and will march locally, with a sister marching in Washington.

If only the election had turned out differently. Women get things done, not just blather and tweet!

Ursula Krawczyk, St. Paul

• • •

Pieser provided an extensive list of everything that bothers her, but her real reason for “protesting” is because she missed out doing it 50 years ago. When I protested during the ’60s, it was because I wanted to attain a goal, not just to mingle with others or because I was upset with all the injustice of life. The Women’s March, composed of “protesters” like Vicki, is pointless. Just a bunch of people wanting to relive the ’60s and get noticed by the media.

Steve Scholl, Eagan

• • •

In the early 1960s, my hope was to get a job that would make my parents proud of me. I was in the age of mandatory service of at least two years in the Armed Forces. Fear — yes, but desire again to make my parents proud. A letter from my president gave me instructions where to report for duty, and I did, a proud Army soldier. I served with men of all races — ate, trained, slept and worked alongside. There were no thoughts of discrimination with my fellow soldiers.

Home on leave, my father and local bar owner discussed a black family’s move to East Peoria, which silently didn’t allow black people to live or work there. My duty ended up in South Vietnam, where I proudly completed my years of service. Married, some time later, we moved to a rural country area beside a mixed-race family who became and are among our closest friends for 47 years.

Part of our life is helping our life’s contacts. I recently had the chance to answer a 33-year-old friend’s request for help on some major things in his life. At 21, when his mother was involved in drugs and alcohol, he had to step in and be conservator of his grandmother and help her daily with eating, bathing, etc. With joy, we’ve helped him and have a great friendship.

My story is to tell you that you don’t have to bus a thousand miles to march or protest a cause. You live to help, whether quietly, or openly such as Mary Jo Copeland at Sharing and Caring Hands does. Do your part where you live.

Lee Waldon, Buffalo, Minn.


She blathers (probably scripted), and media drools in adulation

I find it very disconcerting that the entire news media keeps running and commenting on the words Meryl Streep spoke during the Golden Globes (“Like everyone, artists have a voice to use,” Jan. 10).

Who wrote those words for her? After all, her whole life has been one of just reading and acting out the words creative thinkers have written for her. She has been good at it, but how can someone who has never had a thought of her own criticize others who have?

I recently sat through 20 minutes of movie previews her industry has created. It appalls me that she is involved in a business that is creating ugly, very violent films filled with sexual innuendo that my grandchildren will be watching.

How can she possibly be given such a stage at an award show to say anything negative about anyone else? And, worse, our news media repeats it, repeats it and repeats it.

It is so sad that people like her constantly beat the drum about CEO pay. The same CEOs we want to create jobs, be successful and give us bonus checks while “stars” make hundreds of millions creating entertainment.

Why do liberals constantly berate CEOs but not movie stars or athletes?

What a sad country we have become and our news media makes it worse. Repeating what others say and not giving us the facts.

It appears a couple hundred million Americans agree with me. Although I did not vote for Donald Trump, I pray he does great for our country and do not wish to berate him like so many “deplorables” do before he is even given the chance.

Tom Wierzbicki, Crosby, Minn.

• • •

If you visit most elementary schools, you will notice a sign prominently displayed somewhere in each classroom asking students to be kind and respectful to each other. Teachers tack it on their classroom wall not just to create a better learning environment but also to direct some compassionate humanity upon young fertile minds.

When actress Meryl Streep speaks of similar virtues, she isn’t a “liberal Hollywood elite” making excuses for an election result or starting a culture war. She is speaking of simple ABC lessons of decency and civility that have gone truant with some conservative pundits and, in particular, our president-elect.

Steve Mark, Minnetonka

• • •

While I applaud Streep for her speech at the recent Golden Globes ceremony chastising President-elect Donald Trump for mocking a disabled journalist, she would have been far more courageous had she also criticized President Obama for wounding, disabling and killing thousands of innocent women, men and children during the routine bombings and drone strikes he has sanctioned in his eight years as president. Unless we look at the abuses on both sides of the political aisle, there will be no justice.

Sue Rohland, St. Paul


Build bridges, not walls

When you hear the words “build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico,” it seems sinister. One forgets that Mexico is a retirement community for many U.S. citizens, who find the cities friendly, family-oriented and culturally interesting, and who find that their dollars stretch further in retirement.

I had the honor to be hired as a country manager for Global Volunteers in 1998 in China. I found the people to be warm, helpful, friendly and interesting. I led teams to teach conversational English. This nine months of people-to-people contact was far different from what I read in the media or hear from politicians. One small example was local elderly women selling trinkets, and I would walk by and buy one for a dollar. The second time the woman pretended not to hear me and gave me three for a dollar, thereby teaching me to bargain. It’s the Chinese way, so she taught me some skills. This bridge-building is so apolitical and positive.

When I listen to the news and China or Mexico is mentioned, it is so negative. This is true for most countries I have been to (about 15). Go and travel and meet real people! We all want the same things, such as peace and safety. Don’t let the politicians or media sour you on looking at the country. Remember also that Americans have decided to live all over the globe, and downgrading one country or another is making it difficult for them.

Maria Maki, Annandale, Minn.