Suspended employee reopens DVD debate

Like many fellow parishioners at the Basilica of St. Mary, my wife and I are planning to donate the archbishop's DVD to Lucinda Naylor's artwork ("Job on line over DVD protest," Sept. 28). We feel this work of art is the perfect response to the archbishop's actions, and it's the Holy Spirit at work.

Archbishop John Nienstedt has clearly crossed a line of political lobbying that is totally inappropriate. The church lobbies on behalf of the poor, children and others who need its protection. That's not what this DVD is about. This is the archbishop telling Catholics how to vote to change the Constitution of the secular state of Minnesota, which has laws and a Constitution to protect the rights of all, regardless of religious belief.

Instead of fighting for the poor, Nienstedt is fighting to get Catholic theology into the Constitution, where it would govern anyone, Catholic or not. We're not a theocracy like Iran or Saudi Arabia. We're America, a secular society, and one of our core beliefs is freedom of religion. That includes freedom from religion. I don't want my church dictating to people outside the church.

The No. 1 subject Christ talks about in the New Testament is the poor -- not fighting to take away rights that are due to others. The appropriate place for the archbishop to plead his case for the church's view of marriage is from the pulpit. Instead, he wasted desperately needed funds on an arrogant attempt to decree that Catholic law should be secular law.

Each year there is a special collection for the Archbishop's Fund. Each year, as the scandals have grown, the amount of donations has shrunk.

So long as Nienstedt leads in this kind of arrogant theocratic campaign, ours is one parish household that will give our money elsewhere to help the poor and the forgotten.


Health care debate

Bryson clarifies his commentary to critics

On Sept. 15 the Star Tribune published an opinion piece by me titled "My experience with British health care," which was based in part on my experience with the British National Health Service. The British spend a bit more than half what we do on health care as a percent of GDP and in some ways get much better outcomes. So I asked readers to consider a thought experiment in which we had their system and as a result also had about $1.15 trillion left over each year to address every problem with their system and still had money left over to give back to employers, employees and taxpayers.

Nowhere did I say we should have the British system or even a single-payer system. My point was simply to make it very clear that we are not getting what we should for what we pay -- that there should be an American solution that guarantees health insurance for all, moves away from too much reliance on employer contributions and produces better overall outcomes at less cost. Most readers who contacted me understood this. Many critics, however, wrongly assumed that I was saying we should have the NHS and then proceeded to either attack me personally or attack the NHS without offering any viable alternative to address the failings of our own system.

The health care reform debate has certainly reached a sorry state when personal attack takes the place of reasoned argument and when critics ignore the desirability of fashioning a specifically American system that includes universal coverage, less cost, less employer burden and better outcomes.


• • •

The first changes to our broken health insurance system under "Obamacare" went into effect, and I welcome them! I just secured an individual health insurance policy for my college-student daughter.

Republicans said that they want to repeal this law and that they don't want the government between the people and their doctors. The truth is that our insurance companies have always been between us and our doctors. They tell us which doctors we can see, when we can see them and what medications we are allowed to have. My husband has government-run Medicare and can see whom he wants whenever he needs. The overhead costs of Medicare are extremely low in comparison with the profit-driven insurance companies. To me, this is a much more efficient way to run a health insurance system.


• • •

The Sept. 27 Star Tribune ran an article "When coddling goes overboard" that made me think: What kind of a message do we send our youths when, with the passage of the recent health care bill, it is now law that adult dependents can be covered under their parents' insurance policies until the age of 26?

RICK O'BRIEN, Albertville

• • •

Calling it "Obamacare" is part of the Republican propaganda program, for now.

I like it. Eventually Obamacare will be fully understood, appreciated and improved. As that happens, Republicans will have one more successful program that they fought against tooth-and-nail. To improve the Republican naming process, I suggest we call Social Security FDR-Security and Medicare LBJ-Care.



A symptom of the disease of incumbency

The Tea Party movement is not the disease, but a symptom of the disease ("So, have you heard about this thing called the Tea Party?" Opinion Exchange, Sept. 28). What's the disease? Incumbency. Incumbents beware. You ain't seen nothin' yet.

JOHN CURRAN, Golden Valley

• • •

E.J. Dionne writes: "You have to admire how a very small group has shaken American political life, receiving attention out of all proportion with its numbers."

The gay-rights movement? No, the Tea Partiers. Perhaps freedom of speech and involvement in American politics is selective.