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Why do we want people from places like Haiti and Africa in the United States, President Donald Trump asks, using the vulgar word “shithole” to describe those places? Why can’t we get more people from Norway, he wonders?

My great-grandfather, abandoned by his father and orphaned by the death of his mother when he was 3, left his home country in the 1860s because Norway was a shithole that could not feed its own people and had laws of primogeniture giving him no hope for his future. His hope was the 160 acres outside Starbuck, Minn. A wife and 11 kids to share the work was the fulfillment of the promise of the American dream.

My Irish ancestors suffered great hunger as they waited for the ships to carry them away from their shithole country, which exported food as people starved during the 1840s.

The American dream has been successfully exported to many countries like Norway and Ireland and around the world. Our hope should be that it not die in the land of its birth.

Franklin Steen, St. Paul

• • •

Just when I think Trump could get no lower, he does it. His comment about immigrants coming from “shithole” countries was beyond outrageous and is further proof that he is unfit for the presidency.

My son came from Vietnam, a country Trump probably considers to be such a place, too. I’ve been to Vietnam four times. One of the trips was for humanitarian aid, helping bring water to a rural minority population village. The area was poor, yet there was a beauty and strength that you could see in every one of those people. They were hard workers and deserved all of the respect I could give them. The countryside was a beautiful mix of desert and lush mountains. It was not what Trump wants to call it.

To use the terms that he did denigrates my son and all of the residents and immigrants from similar countries. My son is in the middle of his second year at a top-60 private college and is holding a B average while playing Division III football, which is a year-round commitment. I could not be more angry for Trump’s vulgar references to immigrants in our country.

Jeff Benny, St. Louis Park

• • •

Lost in the firestorm is the fact many Americans share Trump’s opinion. There are many countries that are undesirable socially, politically and economically, and it is not feasible for the U.S. to accept every potential immigrant who is dissatisfied with his nationality. Many industrialized countries have strict immigration policies, including Canada, which focuses on vetting potential immigrants based on merit.

The open-door immigration policy is favored by the left. It is not favored by many other Americans. I’m proud of my president for having the guts to once again say what many are already thinking.

Jason Gabbert, Plymouth

• • •

Trump’s comments came amid discussions of restoring protections for immigrants from several places, El Salvador among them. The U.S.-backed right-wing death squads in El Salvador and the murderous governments of Gen. Romero and Jose Napoleon Duarte. Tens of thousands of people in El Salvador lost their lives because of the U.S. involvement there. Shithole is as shithole does.

Mark R. Jacobson, Richville, Minn.

HEALTH CARE POLICY

Mandate? Whatever. The solution stares us in the face.

I notice that state Sen. Scott Jensen beat a hasty retreat in terminology (“Actually, let’s not talk about a ‘mandate,’ but about incentives,” Jan. 11) since he first published his proposal for health care policy in the Star Tribune (“Why we should start talking about a mandate,” Dec. 28).

“Mandate,” according to him, is a hot-button word that drew a lot of criticism. Oops! But whether he uses the term “mandate” or “requirement” or “law” or whatever, the terms do not matter. His bottom-line concept remains the same. He is super-glued to the necessity of Minnesotans being forced to buy “insurance.” He’s an MD who, although he says he intends to find a solution to the problem of unaffordable health care, refuses to accept that single-payer health care is the solution. His most recent commentary does a favor for corporations in the “insurance” industry: He promotes a legal compulsion for Minnesotans to buy “insurance” offerings — and those offerings are simply tools to extract money from people into the hands of profiteers.

Amber Garlan, St. Paul

• • •

Jensen’s latest commentary about health care policy, especially as it applies to Minnesotans, raised a number of good questions and suggested some avenues for exploration. Hopefully, one reading the article did not gloss over the fact that Jensen is a primary-care physician — and an excellent one at that, based on my professional interactions with him over several decades (I’m mostly retired now).

Because he has been working for decades, I do take issue with some of his statements regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), especially with “corporatization of medical care,” “fractured” patient-doctor relationships and the “compromising” of independent practices via several external forces. These unfortunate changes started occurring in Minnesota while Barack Obama was still an undergraduate in the early 1980s and have continued untethered. (Does anyone remember Group Health? Now think HealthPartners, Fairview, Abbott.) Additionally, Jensen neglects to mention the increased number of people who obtained insurance through the ACA as well as statistics regarding improved health care among those previously uninsured.

He points out excellent ideas toward a solution, as well as tasks demanding attention and mentions that costs will be a substantial challenge — how much is paid, how it is paid and who bears the responsibility for paying. The last I checked, no one was wanting less-than-average health care. I have a friend who constantly invokes the notion “follow the money.” Where is the big money in health care these days? Better stated, has anyone ever seen a pharmaceutical company building that wasn’t opulent, tall and had several campuses? Is it time for the radical notion that this industry helps share the burden of health care by a (gasp) tax? One American company had $14 billion in net sales from one arthritis drug last year — a drug that has been around well more than 15 years, and the price of it continues to rise. How about some money for medical education as well? We can train more primary-care doctors, especially in notions of cigarette cessation, weight loss and exercise. Those things are free — and will save money in the long run. Cost is important, but it’s more than that. It’s about being fair to everyone.

Dr. Paul Waytz, Minneapolis

THE POLITICAL PROCESS

Stop the madness

A new year. An election year. Many candidates have already declared their candidacies; others will announce soon.

I always wonder why, after the first sentence announcing the candidacy, the second is a promise to abide by the party endorsement.

Why? Why would you choose to appeal only to the several hundred activists instead of appealing to all of us, your future constituents? Worse, in order to be a delegate, one has to attend caucuses, which, as we’ve debated before, disenfranchise voters who cannot attend.

Is it any wonder that our primaries hardly list any candidates, since most withdrew after losing the party blessing?

I am calling on all candidates to stay in the race regardless of party endorsement. After all, Gov. Mark Dayton did, and won.

Hanna Hill, Plymouth