Bill McGuire is in the news again (“McGuire’s ‘gut move’ is bold bet on future of soccer,” March 29), and I wanted to add a word of balance to earlier letters to the editor about him, as well as current UnitedHealth CEO Steve Hemsley. (Full disclosure: I own no company stock; I’ve seen neither man since leaving the firm in 2004, and there’s no chance that I’ll ever travel in the same social circles as do they.)

More than 10 years ago, I decided to leave the business world to pursue my “dream” career. At the time, I was responsible for managing the relationships with UnitedHealth’s Minneapolis-based large corporate health care clients. Because of my position, and because these corporations paid millions of dollars to provide health care benefits for their employees, there were occasions when it was necessary to involve both McGuire (then CEO) and Hemsley with some client matters. As a result, there was ample opportunity to see firsthand how these men behaved in private at the end of long, sometimes frustrating days. What impressed me greatly was that I never heard them waiver from their desire to construct a successful business model that would change the system and make better health care available and affordable to exponentially more people than ever before. People who define McGuire only by the stock-backdating issue are badly underinformed about this person.

Tom Wahlrobe, Edina

IRAN NUCLEAR FRAMEWORK

Take time to actually understand history; appeasement this is not

I had to laugh when I read the April 4 letters speculating that supporters of the Obama administration’s actions on Iran had never heard of Neville Chamberlain. Of course we have; furious hawks invoke his name literally every time anyone suggests dealing with a foreign crisis by means other than bombing. Every foreign leader who does anything that goes against America’s perceived interests is supposedly the next Hitler, and every failure to launch a war is the next Munich.

It’s worth remembering how often Chamberlain’s name came up in 2003 when it was suggested that maybe the weapons inspectors in Iraq should have a little more time to poke around a bit. What naive appeasement that turned out to be! You’d think that if your favorite historical analogy had inspired America’s worst foreign-policy debacle in at least a generation, you’d give it a rest for a few years. I guess if the hawks can’t stop shouting “Munich” in a crowded theater, it’s up to the rest of us to remember what happened the last time we listened to them. As Chamberlain’s nemesis Winston Churchill once remarked: “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.”

Paul Chillman, Richfield

• • •

The pact negotiated among Germany, France, Italy, Great Britain and eventually signed by Chamberlain and Hitler in September 1938 is hardly comparable to the recent Iran nuclear pact. The German/Britain pact was intended to avoid war, and it allowed the Germans to occupy the Sudetenland. It had no provisions for inspections and no sanctions. It was simply an agreement between the signees, which Hitler later ignored. Furthermore, the majority of people in Europe did not want another war. Why? Hardly 20 years had passed since The War to End All Wars had ended, with its tens of millions dead and the ruin of most European economies.

The Iran pact is an agreement among six states, including the United States. It is full of provisions, including constant inspections and, most of all, sanctions. Should Iran fail to meet any of the provisions, sanctions against Iran would be enforced.

Donald Theis, Bloomington

• • •

It is certainly possible to have a wide range of opinions about the proposed Iranian agreement. More troublesome is the response of prospective Republican candidates who have declared their intent to scuttle the deal should they become president.

Take a deep breath and think of what that means. Iran honors its agreements and we commit to blowing up the deal, which includes all of our best allies on the planet (those that actually participate with us, not just take aid from us). The continuity of democracy and the passage of power from one government to the next is a foundation of our country. I would say that it is a part of what we refer to as democracy. Can you imagine what this sounds like in every country of the world?

Michael Emerson, Eden Prairie

 

HOME STYLES

On ahistoric remodeling and faddish design elements

Why buy a house just to destroy it? Why does the Star Tribune continue to celebrate these crimes against the community? Bonnie Blodgett’s shortsighted and selfish March 22 commentary about updating her family home was hard to stomach, but an April 5 article glorifying wanton destruction in Kenwood was unbearable.

Houses built before World War I are irreplaceable. The quality of hardwood used in them will never be seen again, and the makers of fixtures and trim are long out of business. Historic homes in key neighborhoods can never be restored once they’re “updated” so brutally. Stripping the heart out of an old home affects the essence and value of the entire neighborhood.

I’m presently trying to buy a period home, original character intact, but find too many that have been ruined in the name of current expediency or false progress. If the subject of the April 5 article wanted a modern home with an open floor plan, she should have bought or built one instead of destroying something that can never be built again.

Brian W. Smith, Roseville

• • •

Thomas Fisher hit the carpenter’s nail on the head with his comments about the bland monotony of the trendy home embellishments we must endure — gables, gables and more gables-upon-gables (“Gables on Parade diminish creativity,” April 4). But he did not tackle the why of it. I contend it is technology: Computer-aided design and automated truss manufacture have allowed incorporating all of that complex carpentry much too easily. Without those aids, the typical overgabled facade would be too challenging for the ordinary design hack and too expensive to sell.

It is the same with LED lighting — their energy-efficiency allows mindless string-light decoration of houses, trees, boats and any other object some tasteless owner wishes to degrade. Even worse, automobile stylists have adopted LED lighting to ridiculous extremes, turning decent-looking cars into ridiculous light shows. Whatever happened to “form follows function?”

Ron Carlson, Lake St. Croix Beach

 

LAWS ON LURKING, SPITTING

Some behaviors belong in the law, others just in the court of opinion

I may be considered a jackpine savage, but where I come from, writing inane letters to the editor is just plain wrong, no matter if you’re black, white, rich or poor. And luckily for an April 4 letter writer, most other people can distinguish between behaviors of which they disapprove and behaviors that should be illegal.

J.B. Lewis, Minneapolis