He should be in jail

Individuals and companies paid millions of dollars in premiums to UnitedHealth Group. Doctors like me had our payments cut drastically -- and for what? To pad Bill McGuire's lifestyle ("McGuire pays again, ends SEC inquiry," Dec. 7)?

So he gives back some of his many millions. How many does he have left, all earned on the backs of stockholders and premium payers? Why not jail time for this criminal act?

The HMO system came about to curb medical costs. All it did was take the money out of doctors' hands and put it into administrators' pockets. A stiff jail sentence would send a message to white-collar criminals.


He suffered?

I almost choked on my breakfast reading the newspaper this morning. Former United HealthGroup CEO William McGuire is quoted as saying, "The last 18 months have been an extraordinarily challenging period for my family and me."

Forty-six million people in this country live without health insurance. Maybe McGuire can dedicate his retirement time to making life less challenging for those people.


A fitting punishment

William McGuire's penalty ($420 million) may be sizable, given the political ether of the time, but it is not enough.

Still, I would have experienced a rare grin at reading the news had the story included his request -- better, an order -- to remove his name from all public "donations" -- the Guthrie and the Walker, etc.



Iran still wants nukes

A Dec. 7 Star Tribune article claimed that a new U.S. intelligence report stated that Iran "halted its nuclear ambitions in 2003."

That is flatly wrong. Iran continues to proceed with its nuclear program and regularly flaunts its ever-growing progress.

The U.S. report says that Iran gave up its military nuclear-weapons program in 2003 -- not its entire nuclear program or its nuclear ambitions (which Iran claims are for civilian use).

Never mind the fact that its construction of a heavy water reactor is ideal for producing plutonium for nuclear bombs but is of no use as a civilian energy program like Iran's, which does not use plutonium for fuel. It's very easy to switch such a "civilian nuclear program" back to a military nuclear program to build a nuclear weapon. That would explain why NATO still wants Iran's uranium-enrichment program -- which continues to this day -- to stop.



Rewarding bad decisions

For those of us who paid extra for the guarantee of a fixed-rate mortgage, President Bush's announcement of a subprime bailout is a swift kick in the teeth (Star Tribune, Dec. 7). Those with ARMs (adjustable-rate mortgages) had a choice -- pay less for a risky adjustable interest rate or pay more for the guarantee of a fixed interest rate. I'm sorry they chose poorly, but tough cookies -- that was the risk they took. I fail to see why government, business or anyone should reward these people for their shortsighted decision.

Want a fixed-rate mortgage? Then pay for it like the rest of us.

This is a boneheaded idea which punishes the majority of citizens who responsibly lived within their means. Worse yet, it encourages people to make even more risky decisions in the future resulting in -- yep, you guessed it, more bailouts.



Students' job: Question

As a student of Eden Prairie High School, I must respond to the Dec. 5 letter writer who asked, "Why is it that a student from the Eden Prairie school system doesn't know the difference between science and religion?"

In school, we are taught to challenge and question everything. We are taught to think as individuals. Forgive us for wanting to expand our knowledge. Forgive us for wanting to learn both sides of the story. We certainly do understand the difference between science and religion; we simply want to dig deeper.

Her letter lacks respect for students who are inquisitive and curious.



Whose diversity?

Katherine Kersten had harsh words for the University of St. Thomas in her Dec. 6 column, "Battle for soul of St. Thomas takes a turn for the worse."

Her support of "true diversity in education" would seem to mean that religiously affiliated colleges historically agree with her highly conservative views, not that they demonstrate any real diversity. As an alumnus of St. Thomas, I can thankfully say this is not the case.

And in her view, "looking out for planet Earth" is inconsistent with pursuing something higher -- "a transcendent vision of faith and morality." Is the lesson here that environmental oversight is immoral?

As any theology student at St. Thomas can tell you, faith and reason aren't mutually exclusive. Journalism and reason shouldn't be, either.


Lofty company

God forbid that the University of St. Thomas should ever go the way of Harvard and other pagan institutions, as Katherine Kersten fears! I have always found her columns offensive and ridiculous, but her latest effort -- wedded to her Dec. 3 endorsement of child-beating -- sends her over the edge.



Part of our history

Patrick Hill is right. Today we cannot blame each other for what happened in the past. We must look at the past from both sides ("Rest of the settlement story," Dec. 6).

I encourage Hill and others to examine how the U.S. government did not live up to its treaty promises. When the payments for the land sales did not arrive or were stolen by the fur traders, the Dakota could not buy any food. In the summer of 1862, the Dakota were dying of hunger and were forced into either war or starvation. They went to war.

Since we cannot change past events, we must ask: What must be done now to repair this painful history? Should the truth be told during the celebration of our state's 150th anniversary?

I think we must tell the truth, no matter how much people like Hill do not want to hear it. Until Americans learn the true history of their country, they will continue to repeat the mistakes of the past.