I cannot imagine the anguish that Patty and Jerry Wetterling, along with their family, have gone through all of these years. Yet despite undergoing the very worst sort of ordeal, they always conducted their lives with the greatest poise and dignity.
Now that the remains of Jacob Wetterling have been found, I can only wish the Wetterlings the very best and hope they can now find some measure of peace. They deserved so much better than this.
Robert Miller, Circle Pines
• • •
I’ve had a few days to think about the news of Jacob Wetterling’s remains being found. My wife was shaken, as was I. Why did his death affect me more than any other death I’ve heard about in the news? After I thought about it, I came to realize that “our son” has died. Of course, this was not our son, and I can’t comprehend the loss that the Wetterling family is experiencing now, but Jacob was our collective son. He was the embodiment of every parent’s worst fears and most fervent hopes. Laws were passed in his name. Porch lights were left on in his honor in the hope that somehow, some day he would find his way home. Now that he has been found, he will be buried and we all will suffer the loss of “our son.”
Jeffrey Benny, St. Louis Park
• • •
The Wetterling case is as heartbreaking as it can be. I would like to make a suggestion to the many people who are using the word “closure.” My husband of 48 years passed away more than two years ago, and I can tell you that word does not even come close to describing the loss of a loved one. It is simply inaccurate and, frankly, hurtful to suggest that chapter in my life can now be closed. I miss him every day and will continue to do so even as time passes.
Anne O’Brien, Minneapolis
The state of health coverage in my nonunion department
I crossed the Minnesota Nurses Association picket line on Monday to get to work (“Allina, nurses brace for long strike,” Sept. 5). I am a non-MNA RN. I stopped to give and receive many hugs from my friends wearing red and carrying signs. I support their efforts 100 percent. I have the corporate health care plan, which has proved to be a poor substitute for the MNA plan I used to have. For the first time in my 39 years as an RN, I have a loan to pay for the medical care my husband needed this year, plus I put $153 per pay period in my Health Savings Account, over and above my premiums. Nor am I the only one in my nonunion department who is struggling with health care expenses. It is so ironic that a health care corporation is willing to spend tens of millions of dollars to end adequate health care plans for its nurses. What Allina spent on the one-week strike in July would cover the RNs for two years! What will this open-ended strike cost?
People want to know that the corporations they work for and deal with are ethical. As I crossed that picket line and saw only good people who are skilled, dedicated workers who work long hours, weekends, holidays and night shifts caring for the sick, I found it hard to believe that I work for an ethical corporation. I pray that the two sides find agreement quickly and that the RNs are left whole.
Pauline Schottmuller, Newport
Free tuition is doable, but dictating majors is a nonstarter
It was with some distress that I read the Sept. 5 commentary “College on our dime? Then we taxpayers decide what kids study.” The article’s authors, an economist and a program director, seem to place an intrinsic value on very little but assign a price to virtually everything. Their proposition that college students’ studies should be dictated by the (perceived) needs of business and industry as a condition of financial aid is not only ludicrous and probably unworkable, but also flies in the face of what education as a human endeavor has long been perceived to be. Moreover, their use of starting salaries in various disciplines as markers of societal value ignores the intrinsic value of an educated populace.
On the other hand, the article was interesting to read because it was very clearly written, a fact for which the authors likely have at least one “low value” English major to thank.
Jeff Rosoff, St. Peter, Minn.
The writer is a retired mathematics professor.
• • •
The tuition commentary’s writers, James Harrigan and Antony Davies, are either myopic or lacking in understanding of human nature or both. Few students seek higher education with other taxpayers in mind. They are likely concentrating on who they want to become and what might benefit them most along the way. I wanted to be a physicist but learned from calculus that this would not work, instead graduating in geology. After leaving the Army, I entered seminary. Taxpayers covered none of that (except the Army). But that was a different time. I didn’t even take advantage of the GI Bill.
Like me, students learn about life along the way. And some even come into business appreciating poetry and literature.
Was my college major worth its cost? It certainly was. But I have never felt that anything in my education was meant to produce something for society. Perhaps that is why I did not study economics.
Jerry P. Hankins, Northfield
• • •
Apart from trying to make the point that college cannot be made free, Davies and Harrigan also argue that “we do not need more poetry, gender studies or sociology majors”; we should let the free market dictate what college kids study and let data on average wages tell us what kind of skill sets society needs. The authors are wrong on so many levels it is hard to know where to start. First of all, college can be made free of tuition — just look at Germany, France, Sweden, Finland or Norway, where this is true, even for U.S. students. Should we really let average salaries be a guide for what skills society needs? If you believe that, look at average compensation for hedge fund managers: about $5 million. According to the authors’ logic, our society is therefore in dire need of more hedge fund managers. Finally, the Strata Institute, where Harrigan is “director of academic programs,” has strong ties to the Koch brothers and has made itself known for flawed reports attacking renewable energy.
Olle Heinonen, Eden Prairie
The writer is a materials scientist.
• • •
As the father of three college-age children, I found the assertion that perhaps taxpayers should decide what students should study interesting. I have another view, and that is to discuss a simple economic principle called “return on investment” with our children. Everything in life is based on the value derived for what you pay, so students should be armed with a calculation that links the salary projection for their intended field with the cost or loan amount of their education. In addition to the help in thinking through a major, imagine how useful this could be when they buy their first vehicle or house. Let’s keep the decision with students and prepare them for the next 40 years as responsible consumers.
Nicholas J. Alfano, Woodbury
The writer is executive vice president of Ecolab.
More days, less crowding? Think about it. Let us know.
Now that the State Fair has once again set attendance records, will the fair board explain why it is impossible to extend the event a few days? If the 320-acre fairgrounds were a vacant lot, the quarter-million who crowded in some days last week would have a little more than 50 square feet of personal space. But since the site’s many buildings, concession stands, tractors, livestock, Midway rides, exhibits and attractions take up a significant amount of square footage, this leaves far less space for all those people. And since many of those people take up more than an average amount of space by pushing strollers or wheelchairs, pulling wagons or riding mobility scooters, a person walking has even less space.
I know how uncomfortable and frustrating this can be, but more important, I doubt that it is safe. If the fair can’t run for two full weeks, why not offer a couple of preview days at a reduced price? We would be glad to spend a less-crowded day at even an abridged version of the State Fair.
Joan Claire Graham, Albert Lea, Minn.