In a recent piece, the Star Tribune Editorial Board highlighted the German health insurance model, which uses private companies to administer public health care benefits (“A cautionary report on ‘single-payer,’ ” May 13). The board noted that while Germany relies on private insurers, it “tightly regulates” them. This model, if adopted here in the U.S., might be less disruptive than a full-blown single-payer system, but it would require a series of federal mandates aimed at revamping the business model of for-profit insurance companies.
These companies would need to expand their bottom-line concerns to take account of the public interest as well as the interests of their stockholders. One way to start would be a requirement that companies like Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group bring public members onto their boards of directors, with the percentage of public members reflecting the percentage of the revenues that these companies obtain from administering public programs such as Medicare and Medical Assistance.
Iric Nathanson, Minneapolis
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The editorial on single-payer health care trotted out a widely publicized estimate of $32.6 trillion in additional federal costs over 10 years to fund “Medicare for All,” and the piece characterized it as an estimate by an “independent analyst.”
An online link to the estimate shows it to be prepared by the Mercatus Center, which, according to SourceWatch, “was founded and is funded by the Koch Family Foundation. According to financial records, the Koch family has contributed more than $30 million to George Mason University, much of which has gone to the Mercatus Center.”
It’s a measure of the distorted news world we live in when one can label the Koch brothers’ shrieking, single-minded, anti-government acolytes “independent.”
William Beyer, St. Louis Park
Sure, give Trump credit for growth, but give him credit for harm, too
The letter writer who claimed that President Donald Trump deserves credit for economic growth (“Give credit to Trump — it’s due,” Readers Write, May 13) cited mainly the Dow Jones Industrial Average since 2016 as evidence. Let’s keep in mind that the Dow is not the economy — it reflects corporations whose value went up in anticipation of and later as a reaction to a decrease in corporate tax rates.
If you want a more genuine measure of economic health, I wouldn’t go to the “business world” or the “Democratic pundits” the writer mentioned — I’d go to small-town Minnesota and talk to a farmer or a shop owner and ask them how things are going. Ask them how that tax bill is helping them, or how the trade war with China will affect their bottom line. Then give President Trump credit for that, too.
Mark Brandt, Minneapolis
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The Star Tribune Editorial Board couldn’t have been more wrong with its comments on the trade war (“No one wins in a spiraling trade war,” May 14). In its zeal to criticize President Trump, the board’s logic only channels the short-term pain. Yes, there will be market disruptions, temporary losses and fear of the unknown. But consider that China has been stealing American technology and products for decades much to our economic detriment. Finally, we have a president who is acting on this gross injustice that previous administrations allowed to occur.
The current U.S. tariff, at 25% on about $300 billion worth of Chinese products, can go even higher — a positive bargaining chip. Prior to this dust-up, China’s tariff on U.S. goods was 10%, now being raised to 20 to 25%. Its reciprocal tariff of $60 billion demonstrates how few U.S. goods are allowed to be exported.
The Chinese economy has flatlined, along with President Xi Jinping’s approval rating. The U.S. economy is robust with record unemployment rates. This sets up a favorable position that the board doesn’t recognize. Our long-term economic picture demands this corrective action be taken.
Joseph Polunc, Cologne, Minn.
Mandatory reporting of sex abuse is a change that will reverberate
Reaction to the Vatican’s announcement of the new whistleblower law, which requires reporting abuse to church leadership, has been predictably positive and negative (“Pope lays out first global rules for reporting abuse,” May 10). We need to remember that it’s not that long ago in our nation’s history that civil whistleblower laws were enacted.
Having worked in the field of training and compliance related to child-abuse recognition and reporting for over 10 years, I am confident that this step will lead to positive change in the Roman Catholic Church and beyond. Over the past 17 years, the U.S. Catholic Church has led religious communities and society in general in the systematic implementation of proactive prevention, recognition and reporting of child abuse and victim assistance programs.
The new Catholic law will of course be implemented differently across the globe depending on local leadership and cultures of the countries. That’s to be expected of an organization that has more than 1 million men and women in religious leadership roles and more than 1 billion members.
Clergy and lay leadership, particularly in countries like the U.S. that have been leading the charge for reform, will advocate for more extensive changes. The U.S. bishops have been working on more comprehensive reforms and protections. In time, these will likely be implemented and find their way to Catholic churches in other countries.
While there will always be more that any organization can do, as the saying goes, every journey starts with a single step. This step is a big one for the Roman Catholic Church worldwide. And a positive move forward for society.
D.J. Paxton, Minneapolis
WOMEN IN BUSINESS
We’ve come a long way in 40 years
As someone who follows the Star Tribune’s Business section daily, I was delighted to see a first in Monday’s section — all three cover articles featured women in business leadership. Congrats to nVent Electric CEO Beth Wozniak on her very successful first year, to new Doran Cos. CEO and majority owner Anne Behrendt and to Candace Nelson for her new ownership stake and title in Intereum.
Almost 40 years ago, when I finished my MBA, every meeting I attended was led by men, and I was surrounded by men. We’ve come a long way, baby, and the Minnesota business community is benefiting from our leadership and voices.
Rebecca Driscoll, Minneapolis
2020 PRESIDENTIAL RACE
Where is the American ‘Der Alte’?
The next president is going to have to be someone who can heal the nation’s lesions. My first thought is, “Where is Konrad Adenauer when you really need him?”
Adenauer was Germany’s first post-war chancellor. Through his unassailable good will, kindness and political experience, he was able to bring together the country’s disparate, wounded factions. He was also a leader in the development of NATO and able to reconcile with Germany’s former enemies, most notably France while it was led by Charles de Gaulle — no small ego or shrinking violet. Adenauer was known as “Der Alte,” German for “The Elder.”
I wonder if Joe Biden could play that role for the U.S.
Gary L. Brisbin, Fridley