“Holy [bleep]” is right! That was Michael Flor’s reaction to his 181-page, $1.1 million bill for COVID-19 treatment (“Protect patients on million-dollar bills,” editorial, July 1). I’ll bet he was plenty relieved that he had good insurance.

Multiply that $1.1 million bill by the tens or hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 patients who have already been treated, and those who have yet to be treated, and that’s the cost our insurance companies are also absorbing now and will absorb in the future. Covering costs are what insurance companies do, but after natural disasters, and now a pandemic, to stay in business, they must adjust their rates.

My partner and I are in our 80s. We’re on Medicare, like Flor, and are lucky to be able to afford additional supplemental insurance. We’re expecting our insurance rates to rise because of this pandemic, but after reading about Flor’s bill, I can’t even imagine what those increased rates are going to be. But I can imagine our reaction and the reaction of the thousands of others of our generation: “Holy [bleep].”

Dennis Daniels, Eden Prairie

WEALTH

Address inequality with education

When I worked for the city of Minneapolis, I was a strong supporter of the Minnesota Homeownership Center, and I agree with most of center President Julie Gugin’s comments about structural racism in the current lending industry (“When lamenting homeownership rates, lament structural racism,” Readers Write, June 30). There is no doubt about the historical failures of our private lenders when it comes to lending to communities of color, but I believe there is a bigger problem affecting their ability to obtain a loan.

Our current educational system does a good job of educating young people about math, science and other typical educational subjects. However, it does little to help them to understand the financial impact of poor money management. Instead, this education is left to our banks, credit card companies and legal system. Our market economy promotes the idea of immediate gratification and the end result is large amounts of debt and little or no savings.

The city of Minneapolis has provided financial support to counseling agencies that reach out to communities of color, and based upon reports on the outcomes, the counseling agencies were successful in helping most counselees to improve their credit rating, get their debts paid off and improve their household income and savings. These programs give families the tools to improve their own lives and economic prospects through education and counseling, but sadly this is done on a very small scale compared to the actual need.

How much better would it be if we brought this knowledge to our middle and high schools to help young people to understand the importance of properly managing their finances before entering their adult life? Yes, we need to address systemic problems in the lending industry, but the bigger emphasis should be placed on empowering people with the financial information they need to better help them to afford a home, manage their household finances and prepare them for retirement.

Mark Anderson, Ramsey

• • •

Recently the explosion of justifiable outrage at the treatment of George Floyd has focused a light on the fact that while people at the top live comfortable financial lives, the people in the lower strata struggle. For Black people, this has brought up discussion of reparations.

The fact is that a large proportion of the population, no matter what they do, end up with little or no retirement savings. Further, nothing in the current tax and retirement system seems to even begin to solve the problem. Social Security was never designed to provide people with an adequate retirement. But there was a proposal to begin to attack this problem.

In the 1990s, Sens. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut proposed a program called “KidSave.” This program would have given $1,000 to every newborn child. Under their proposal, for the first five years of a child’s life, $500 would be added to that account. There would be other subsidies. The accounts would be administered the same way as the federal employees’ plans are managed. Under Kerrey and Lieberman’s 1990s proposal, the funds could not be withdrawn until age 65. The person could add to his or her account, but they could not withdraw from the account. With this proposal, at retirement everyone would have a much better chance at a comfortable life.

Kerrey and Lieberman’s proposal was ignored then, it is said, because it would have cost billions of dollars each year.

We just borrowed, what, several trillion?

Had Kerrey and Lieberman’s proposal, or something like it, been turned into law in the 1990s, a significant portion of the American people would now be better off. It wasn’t picked up then, but if you want our children to have a brighter future, then this proposal, or something like it, should be part of our future.

Michael N. Felix, Grand Rapids, Minn.

MONUMENTS

More to the story on Crazy Horse

It’s interesting that the letter writer who wrote about the Crazy Horse Memorial said that the monument was unfinished and suggested it was due to lack of federal funds and caring about a tribute to an American Indian.

The sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski, turned down millions of dollars offered by the federal government, as he wanted complete and total artistic and financial control over the monument. It is now funded by admissions and private donations and money from their various shops and restaurants on the property. It is a very lucrative business and takes in many millions of dollars a year and has been worked on solely by the family. They do not ask for or accept federal money.

Although it was commissioned by Lakota chief Standing Bear and many favor it, the monument is opposed and resented by other tribal members as it is on sacred land and a scant amount of the revenue goes to the tribe, although one is led to believe that the monument has humanitarian purposes.

Stephanie Dodge, Minneapolis

ABILITIES

Watch your descriptors — and bias

An Associated Press story that ran in the June 24 issue of the Star Tribune (“Trump-backed GOP candidates in Kentucky and North Carolina lose”) included the following sentences: “In western North Carolina, GOP voters picked 24-year-old investor Madison Cawthorn over Trump-backed real estate agent Lynda Bennett. ... Cawthorn, who uses a wheelchair following an accident, will meet the constitutionally mandated minimum age of 25 when the next Congress convenes.” (The printed paper version was slightly different.)

The fact that Cawthorn uses a wheelchair has no relevance to his candidacy in any way, so why mention it? Bennet uses eyeglasses, yet her dependence on adaptive technology is not mentioned. Nor should it be, any more than wheelchair use should be.

Candidates with disabilities should be judged by their experience, qualifications and policy proposals, just like any other candidate. To gratuitously report on (presumed) disability is to engage in social “othering.” In fact, people with disabilities are not “them.” People with disabilities are us. Let the reporting that the Star Tribune publishes reflect this liberating fact.

Jeff Nygaard, Minneapolis

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