This week’s Viewpoint letters
Student loans and cost of higher education
I felt compelled to respond to the part of Mr. Kocovsky’s recent letter about student loans and the cost of higher education.
According to Ron Johnson’s campaign staff Ron never said to replace teachers with a Ken Burns documentary. He said we should be using all the resources possible to teach our students. Ron believes we need good teachers, but we also need to give them the best tools available, and take advantage of technology to improve the quality and reduce the cost of higher education.
Sen. Johnson has looked at the bigger picture concerning mounting student debt and realizes we should be attacking the root cause of the problem and that is the cost of higher education.
Some recently published information about student debt shows the total outstanding student loan debt in the U.S. is $1.2 trillion; the second-highest level of consumer debt behind mortgages. About 40 million Americans hold student loans and about 70 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients graduate with debt.
The class of 2015 graduated with $35,051 in student debt on average, according to Edvisors, the most in history. One in four student loan borrowers are either in delinquency or default on their student loans, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Another on-line search anyone can make will reveal a wide variety of government loan programs and private sources of funds, so it’s easy to understand how costs for higher education can continue to increase when money is so easily available. Russ Feingold is part of the problem. He has been a lecturer at Stanford University in California, where he was paid nearly $8,000 per class. The fact is Sen.Feingold backed the big government programs that have driven up college costs, failed to fix this problem during his nearly two decades in Washington, and then lived off of high college costs. On the other hand Sen. Johnson is working to make college affordable and accessible for everyone, which is why he supported the Perkins loan program and voted twice for legislation to improve student loans by stabilizing and lowering interest rates.
It is a complicated issue, but simply making even more loan money more readily available, as Russ Feingold promotes, will lead to higher college costs and worsen the root cause of the problem.
Carlton Schroeder, Sugar Camp
Night on the Farm
Many thanks to community members who came out to the University Agriculture Research Station in Starks for The Night on The Farm Friday, Sept. 16 to pick potatoes for the Pantry. You picked 6½ tons of potatoes that the farm will store for us, so we can get them as needed. This should be about enough potatoes to last us through next June.
Thanks, also, to the Pantry volunteers who prepared the soup and roasted potatoes served at the event. This event also could not have happened without the staff at The Farm planting extra potatoes and then volunteering their time to prepare for the event and dig, haul and store them.
Thanks to all.
Guy Hansen, Executive Director
Rhinelander Area Food Pantry
Folks, it is up to us to turn Wisconsin red! We will never again be a blue or purple state. Usually, Wisconsin is not a pivotal state. We have not counted for much in the Electoral College but this year we can be the deciding vote that secures the Electoral College for Donald J. Trump.
Get registered to vote. Vote an absentee ballot or vote in person on Nov. 8. Donald Trump is counting on you! Wisconsin is counting on you! America is counting on you!
Carol Cady, Arbor Vitae
Tiffany’s last straw
Of all the misguided, reprehensible things Sen. Tom Tiffany has done, the most egregious is his treatment of veterans, especially those living at nursing homes like one in King. Tiffany serves on the legislature’s budget committee; his decision to raid over $30 million from these facilities is political malpractice.
Why did Tiffany do it? To fill the budget hole Republicans created by mismanaging state government and giving obscenely high tax cuts to the wealthiest Wisconsin taxpayers. What’s worse, these raids follow a string of Republican efforts to block state veteran funding, consolidate county veteran offices, and deny justice for veterans suffering from asbestos exposure. Obviously, Tiffany cares far more about his rich friends and corporate donors than taking proper care of our heroes.
This is the last straw. Consider Tiffany’s record: reckless embrace of vouchers that are devastating our public schools; total disregard for preserving our Northwoods environment; secret votes for illegal gerrymandering and gutting open records; laws limiting his accountability; staging midnight hearings to silence opponents; appalling support for unlimited pumping of OUR water by commercial interests; and now, refusing to debate the issues.
Tom Tiffany no longer serves the people who elected him. Vote Van Stippen November 8.
Kathleen Marsh, Townsend
A life for a buck
I am a retired firefighter and EMS instructor and I feel compelled to comment on the outrageous greed recently shown by drug manufacturers. The hot topic in the news has been the cost increase in drugs, especially a drug called epinephrine, or epi. Epi is a life-saving drug to be used for any type of allergic reactions (Drugs, insects, food, etc.). It is a bronchodilator and vasoconstrictor meaning when injected it will open your airway and constrict your blood vessels to maintain blood pressure. I have used the EpiPen on myself (shrimp) and numerous times on medical calls. Epi is manufactured by a conglomerate called Mylan. Mylan has manipulated the market through somewhat questionable tactics and are now the sole producer of epi and EpiPen. The attention on EpiPen pricing has raised criticisms of high drug costs generally, while also putting Man and its executives in particular, under intense scrutiny. Oh, and by the way, guess what?
Just like so many other companies, Mylan incorporated in the Netherlands and moved its tax residence to the U.K. Heather Bresch, Mylan’s CEO received an 8.3 percent pay raise that lifted her base salary to $1.3 million last year and had a total compensation of $18.9 million! The price of the EpiPen has climbed nearly 550 percent over eight years, yet Mylan’s cost remains at a couple buck per pen! EpiPen has a shelf life of about one year and then expires, so whether you use the pen or not, it still will cost you $600 per year. Mylan is a multi-billion dollar business that apparently operates under little or no moral or ethical standards. A few competitors have tried but so far have failed at challenging the company.
People may let the pens expire and not replace them because of the high price, so they’ll go without them and play Russian roulette with their kids’ safety. So what can users do? Contact your senators and the state attorney general’s office to complain and ask what is being done at the state and federal level to control these ridiculous prices. Voices must be heard!
In today’s world, if you can’t afford to buy a new car, a nice used care will be fine – life goes on! But if you get stung by a bee and go into an anaphylactic reaction and could not afford an EpiPen, life probably will not go on.
Art LaVoy, Rhinelander