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J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

Paying the piper

Re State Funeral For Late NDP Leader Jack Layton Cost $368,326 (online, Aug. 30): Is this supposed to shock us? Didn't Canada just spend more than $1-million on a visit by Prince Charles? What is worth paying for?

Adam Green, Ottawa

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Banking boldly

Like letter writer Alistair Thomson (Bankable Advice – Aug. 30), I, too, am glad to see companies be profitable. But here's another thought: Instead of banking the profits, why not eliminate customer service charges? Why should I pay a bank to hold and use my money? New customers would flock to the first bank that made such a bold move.

William Bezanson, Ottawa

Student debt

In his column Why We Should All Care About Student Debt (ROB, Aug. 30), Rob Carrick chastises the public school system for providing bad advice to students on postsecondary education and debt. Unfortunately, his comments could also mislead students and their parents.

Four out of 10 students graduate debt-free. Among those who graduate with debt, almost one-third owe less than $12,000. The median debt for those who borrow is $23,500.

Even in this tough economy, many new jobs are being created for university grads. From July of 2008 to July of 2012, the net increase in new jobs for university grads was 700,000, compared with 320,000 net new jobs for college grads.

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During their careers, university grads will typically earn $1-million more than a registered tradesperson or college grad working full-time. University education remains the surest path to prosperity.

Christine Tausig Ford, vice-president, Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, Ottawa

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Rob Carrick hit the mark: Most university students are majoring in debt. One solution to the problems he outlined would be to eliminate provincially subsidized grant programs. These programs require millions in public funds but are only available to specific segments of the student population.

Instead, invest that money in mandatory financial education and literacy courses for both high-school and postsecondary students. Simply put, financially literate consumers make better financial decisions.

Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc., Toronto

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One way to avoid student debt is to attend Harvard!

In fact, Harvard no longer even offers loans to undergraduates. Instead, it offers need-based financial aid (plus a term-time job) to all students, including those from Canada, whose family incomes are less than $180,000. Families with incomes under $60,000 don't need to make any financial contribution at all.

Another interesting aspect of Harvard's approach is that it doesn't offer scholarships to undergraduates whose family can afford the bill, no matter how brilliant and talented they may be. All the aid goes to those who have financial need.

Lewis Auerbach, president, Harvard Club of Ottawa

Quebec affairs

Re Just Asking (letter, Aug. 30): As a practical matter, it's no more possible to get elected to public office in Quebec without speaking French than it is to be elected in the Rest of Canada without speaking English. Yet, there's no law against it in the ROC. It's symbolic only, and xenophobic, to have such a law in Quebec.

Bruce Parsons, Portugal Cove, Nfld.

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Re CAQ Candidate Was Rejected By Bloc Over Cigar Smuggling, Driving Infractions (Aug. 30): Perhaps Quebec voters need not be concerned over Coalition Avenir Québec candidate Robert Milot's conviction for cigar smuggling. After all, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

H.B. Hutter, Toronto

Ford or not

Although I'm not a supporter of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, I applaud your editorial Molehill To Mountain (Aug. 30). Mr. Ford won the election fair and square and shouldn't be dethroned by legal chicanery.

Adam Plackett, Toronto

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Thanks for clarifying that conflict of interest is only an issue if a politician doesn't ultimately benefit from the conflict (despite his best efforts), and if he keeps his election promises. This will come as a great comfort to those Canadian politicians who were likely operating under a needlessly rigorous understanding of the rules.

Thor Kuhlmann, Vancouver

Classroom confusion

Teachers not paying for books and supplies is a completely justifiable form of protest against new legislation by the Ontario government that dictates the terms of their next contract (Ontario Classroom Dispute Puts Sports, Clubs At Risk – Aug. 30).

But teachers withdrawing voluntary services with school clubs and teams simply confuses me. If a teacher quits a coaching position, for example, there's always a willing replacement ready to step in.

So how would such a move force the government to make any changes?

Connor Hammond, Oakville, Ont.

Travelling tales

I was delighted to read Dianne Bradshaw's Facts & Arguments essay on long childhood car rides in the 1950s and '60s (Summers In The Chevy – Life, Aug. 29).

Along with her sensory experiences, I can add the memorable smell of dog breath from our poor dog Skip, who was wedged in the back of the station wagon with the tightly packed luggage and the tightly closed windows.

Especially satisfying, though, was my being to able to prove to my disbelieving wife that my father wasn't the only one who would take blind swipes at the kids in the back seat while tearing down the highway.

John Kent, Toronto

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I often fly with a guitar (So This Guy Walks Into An Airport With A Cello – Arts, Aug. 29). It fits overhead, so I never check it. But on a recent United Airlines flight from Newark to St. John's, I had to gate-check it.

Then, just before departure, all the luggage had to be unloaded and reloaded because the bag of a no-show passenger had to be removed.

In the process, my guitar was thrown around and arrived in St. John's in two pieces.

This unfortunate incident, however, led to the best service I've ever had from an airline. After determining that the guitar couldn't be repaired, United agreed to pay the full retail value ($3,900).

United may still break guitars, but at least it makes good without hassle.

Ted Rowe, St. John's

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