As we remembered the 70th anniversary Thursday of the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan, I also recalled that my father was a 19-year-old private in Germany in 1945 as the war in Europe ended. He and his fellow soldiers fought hard, liberated concentration camps and defeated evil incarnate. Then, they waited. They were told they were being sent to the war with Japan in the Pacific in a matter of weeks. From what they had read about the battles of attrition we fought with Japan, and about that country’s stated policy of no surrender, they knew that many of them would be killed. My father told me that no one could imagine their relief when the atomic bombs were dropped and Japan surrendered.

The surreal destructive ability of atomic weapons had been demonstrated. The loss of life, particularly civilian life, was beyond tragic. Was my dad wrong to believe until his recent death that these bombs saved perhaps millions of lives? I would probably not be writing this letter today had the bombs not been dropped. The bombs have never been used since — either by sane governments, or semi-crazy ones. They appear to be a very effective deterrent to “all-out war with no surrender.” That is my take.

David Arundel, Excelsior

• • •

As an academic physician anesthesiologist and member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, I read with interest the article “What if the Hiroshima bomb were dropped on Minneapolis?” (StarTribune.com, Aug. 6). Using NukeMap, a tool that demonstrates the devastation caused by nuclear weapons and a source I use when giving talks on nuclear weapons and public health, the article paints a terrifying picture.

As we remember the 70th anniversary of our country’s dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is important to redouble our efforts on nuclear disarmament and prevention of the spread of nuclear-weapons technology. There are still 15,695 nuclear weapons in the world today, many of which are in former Soviet states, and there is little security protecting such weapons from capture by terrorist organizations.

U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar should support the Iran agreement, which blocks all four pathways to the bomb and gives the International Atomic Energy Agency access to monitor Iran’s nuclear facilities (which an airstrike campaign would not do). The negotiations with Iran should serve as an example to the existing nine nuclear weapon states: To make the world safe, they should also negotiate to eliminate their arsenals. Further, the Obama administration needs to live up to its 2009 pledge to seek a world free of nuclear weapons. Our future is at stake, and when it comes to nuclear weapons, prevention is the only cure.

Caleb Schultz, Edina

 

LAKE MILLE LACS

Why assistance for fishing now but not for construction then?

There should be no special session for the Mille Lacs walleye problem. Yes, resort owners are going to be hurt. Yes, some will go out of business.

When the building trades, from which I recently retired, experienced a nearly six-year downturn because of the housing recession, the number of licensed contractors in the state shrank by thousands. The Star Tribune’s bankruptcy listings on Mondays were rife with news of construction companies folding. There was no call for a special session in those times, even though I’d bet the economic damage to builders was far greater than all of the Lake Mille Lacs resort owners combined.

As others have pointed out, when you go into business, you assume risk in the hopes of a reward. It should not be the state’s business at all.

Bob Brereton, St. Paul

 

PUBLIC HEALTH INSURANCE

Why boot UCare, the Robin Hood of Minnesota’s HMOs?

I have been one of the most vocal critics of our nonprofit HMOs for many years. I have lobbied against them, sued them, denounced the methods by which they obtain federal funding and argued that our health care system would function more fairly and more efficiently without them.

Nevertheless, I was surprised to learn that UCare was being ejected from participation in our Medicaid and other state public health programs. UCare specialized in serving public-program clients (“475,000 must switch health plans for 2016,” Aug. 4). While I raised the issue of whether improper cross-subsidization of state-only funded programs was occurring, I was aware that UCare used its money to provide benefit-rich offerings to its public-program enrollees. It also provided support to the University of Minnesota Medical School and its physicians. I don’t recall hearing UCare enrollees complain about the way they were treated or the nature of their coverage. As much as I dislike HMOs, I don’t believe UCare had “quality” deficits that could be defined or proved. If I were asked to rank our HMOs from most offensive to least offensive, I would rate UCare as least offensive. A couple of years ago, the Minnesota Department of Human Services declared that UCare was one of the best “values.”

What will happen to UCare? Can it survive on just its Medicare products? What is really going on here? Do the Dayton administration and DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson believe that the plight of public-program enrollees will be made better by the elimination of UCare? Or is something else afoot?

Is UCare being sacrificed as an offering for the Dayton administration’s phony commitment to competition? Or, perhaps even worse, is it being mortally wounded so that it will fall victim to acquisition by one of our more predatory and carnivorous HMOs? Most observers agree that Minnesota’s health insurance market is already too concentrated. The loss of UCare won’t help this.

David Feinwachs, St. Paul

The writer is a former lobbyist for the Minnesota Hospital Association.

 

PLANNED PARENTHOOD

Critics continually rely on lies, as a recent letter demonstrates

Easily refuted lies about Planned Parenthood and its founder continue to circulate, (“The racist Margaret Sanger doesn’t deserve high praise,” Readers Write, Aug. 6.) No, most Planned Parenthood clinics are not situated in minority neighborhoods, as the letter writer asserts; in fact, according to the Guttmacher Institute, only “9 percent of abortion clinics in the U.S. are in neighborhoods in which 50 percent or more of the residents are black” (http://tinyurl.com/pyl9wj6).

Nor was Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, a racist; certainly, Sanger was a eugenicist, as were most intellectuals at the time, but she in no way aimed to eliminate people of color. When Sanger wrote, in 1939, that “[we] do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members,” she was not calling for a “final solution” for African-Americans, as the letter writer alleges; rather, she was suggesting ways to debunk the false notion that providing contraceptives to people of color was in any way connected with the Jim Crow sterilization campaigns that were prevalent at the time. In fact, Sanger was a strong advocate for racial justice, and she worked closely with leaders of the African-American community to bring needed health care to the women of that community.

This persistent use of prevarication in the effort to undermine women’s access to reproductive health care strongly suggests that there are few, if any, reasonable arguments against Planned Parenthood; if there were, surely there would be no need for lies.

Joyce Denn, Woodbury