Opinion editor's note: Editorials represent the opinions of the Star Tribune Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom.
On Monday, this paper's Editorial Board called for dramatically scaling back St. Paul's voter-approved rent stabilization policy, claiming that "rent control has long been considered poor policy" ("St. Paul must refine rent control policy").
This raises the question: considered poor policy by whom? Certainly not the 53% of St. Paul voters who cast ballots in support of the rent stabilization policy. Nor are those voters the only voices of dissent from this implied consensus. Just last year, the University of Minnesota published a 60-page report on rent stabilization, which concluded that "rent regulations have been effective at achieving two of their primary goals: maintaining below-market rent levels and moderating price appreciation," in addition to promoting "increases [in] housing stability." The study also debunks the trope that rent stabilization negatively impacts new housing construction.
Though it may not be clear to the Editorial Board that low-income renters in the Twin Cities are burdened with rapidly rising rental costs, a 2021 report from the Minnesota Housing Partnership reveals that the percentage of renters in the region considered "rent burdened" increased from 36% to 45% over the last two decades, for a total of more than 168,000 households. This despite the addition of tens of thousands of rental units in the region over this same period.
These families will clearly benefit from rent stabilization not only in the short term, but for decades to come, by controlling unaffordable rent increases and allowing them to stay in their homes.
Tony and Roberto Aspholm, Minneapolis
High time to fix this mess
I see that the Minnesota Nurses Association has voted to authorize a strike ("Twin Cities, Duluth nurses overwhelmingly authorize strike," Aug. 16). Yesterday, as I listened to a journalist describe the possibility of a strike, I was amazed by the repeated use of the term "industry" in the news report — how nurses were suffering burnout from short staffing, poor working conditions and were leaving the "industry." I thought, doesn't this reporter know the difference between an industry and a profession?
Then, of course, I snapped back to reality. Nursing and the practice of medicine in giant vertically integrated monopsonies have become industrialized and the professionals who provide essential health care have become "labor costs" on an industrial balance sheet. Costs that need to be kept low so profits may be kept high. As a result, patients suffer and nurses suffer. To add insult to injury, patients, nurses and every taxpayer picks up the costs of the property and other taxes that these tax-exempt "industries" don't have to pay. Educational programs designed to train health care administrators now emphasize an industrial engineering approach to health care management. Billing, up-coding, facility fees and revenue cycle management have displaced all else (including the nursing profession) in the focus of our industrial engineer executives.
Patients before profits isn't just a union slogan. It is an honest and accurate plea to address everything wrong with our current health care system. I stand with Minnesota's nurses.
David Feinwachs, St. Paul
The writer is an attorney.
The high court's grave mistake
A letter writer last week wrote about the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade ("The court's ruling was neutral," Aug. 10). Revoking universal rights and access to abortion in the U.S., the writer claimed, indicates the country's majority reappraisal of the morality behind abortion moving from an acceptable medical procedure, to one that (again) oversteps some ethical boundary.
The claim is that, with Roe v. Wade legislation in place, the universal majority was to agree that the procedure is not neutral, that federally allowing the procedure with varying stipulations across the country would indicate the upholding of a good moral standard. However, the writer, clearly in favor of the court's more recent decision, seems to indicate that with the decision our morality has somehow been restored, that the amoral standards or the transgression of this ethical framework with Roe v. Wade in place are no longer. In other words, the court's decision, according to the letter writer, works to move the moral dial or ethical compass in the right direction.
My question to you and others who agree, simply put, is this:
Who benefits from abortion, and who suffers?
The answer to both ends of the question is: women capable of conception, whether or not they are and whether or not they want to be pregnant. If we want to get moral or ethical about this, if we want to ask whether it is neutral to criminalize a medical procedure that could save a non-consentingly pregnant woman from a minimum of nine months of agony (and a maximum of a lifetime), we should ask all of those women first.
Olivia Branstetter, Minnetonka
So the new Democrat rallying cry is, "We do have the right to kill babies!" Have we really stooped so low in this country that this is their campaign slogan?
Abortion is not health care ... it is the killing of another human being! That is, and always has been, murder! Nobody has the "right" to commit murder! This is the bottom line!
How can the Democrats in good conscience endorse and promote this in their platform?
Kathryn Osterman, Brandon, Minn.
Back to prison? Now?
Sometimes we just can't see the forest for the trees. We build prisons to protect ourselves from people who break the law, and then we attempt to rehabilitate them.
It seems that during the COVID pandemic 158 prisoners were granted conditional medical releases. Of those, some finished their sentences, some reoffended and (I assume) were reincarcerated. But it appears the Department of Corrections wanted to reincarcerate 18 who still have remaining sentences and who have not broken the law since their release ("Plan to return 18 to prison on hold," Aug. 15).
Why? Isn't not breaking the law again the goal? Declare victory. Say the system works. I sincerely hope they are rehabilitated. Don't spend my tax dollars incarcerating people who seem not to need it.
Jack Kohler, Plymouth
Welcome to Minnesota
Regarding "Becoming Minnesotan, an intro" (Aug. 15): What a wonderful example of our tax dollars for education at work! For all the reports of declining enrollment in the Minneapolis school system, we read about such a wonderful example of its attempts to reach out to our newest immigrants, who have been through so much in this past year. The district has helped them feel more comfortable in their new surroundings and I'm guessing has them looking forward school this fall! I love that they have been introduced to our transit system, our awesome park system and wildlife, that they partnered with Boy Scouts who taught them to camp and fish and that they had a great instructor (we have so many who we don't hear enough about!). Thank you for the wonderful article showing how we as a state are welcoming them to our country and to Minnesota.
Julie E. Theiringer, Golden Valley