Oh, to be here 100 years from now when a junior reporter doing an article on past predictions runs across a quote from the chairman of an old computer company, IBM, stating, back in 1943, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers,” or the founder of a tech company saying in 1995, “I predict the internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.” He finds an article in an old issue of Scientific American from 1909, stating that “the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development … suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced.” He then discovers a copy of the Star Tribune dated Oct. 6, 2016, and reads, “From now on, this is it. Humans will never get older than 115.” He puts the article to bed, then leaps his 143-year-old frame out of his chair and hurries home to take care of his newborn son. He has to get home because his mom and dad have been watching the boy, and they have a golf tee time this afternoon.
Keith Reed, Rosemount
Debating better support (and other options) for entrepreneurs
It’s gratifying to see so many people writing about the crisis in medical insurance coverage for Minnesota’s independent buyers. Having been such a buyer since 1991, I personally witnessed the growing premiums — often with great fear. As coverage has shrunk, deductibles blossomed and overall out-of-pocket expenses mushroomed, the fear of “insurance poverty” or total lack of insurance coverage has also grown.
In Minnesota, we are proud of our entrepreneurial community; be aware that these innovators are the very people struggling for affordable insurance, since — being self-employed — they don’t receive this as an employment benefit; also, they are not typically eligible for the state’s Medicaid-based options. If we want to have an innovative entrepreneurial segment of our workforce, the state will need to make sure they can obtain affordable health insurance coverage. These engineers, consultants, retailers, lawyers and doctors — not to mention members of the fast-growing “gig economy” — contribute hugely to our state but are forgotten in the question of affordable health insurance.
As long as insurance providers are allowed to cherry-pick “preferred” pools of customers, groups such as independent entrepreneurs will be increasingly locked out; eventually, no one will be able to afford to be such an innovator. We used to have a “high-risk pool” health insurance policy in Minnesota — something that worked remarkably well and was supported by our Legislature. Perhaps a similar action (or a limitation on insurance cherry-picking) should be taken so that some of Minnesota’s greatest contributors can continue to be insured.
Peter Zelles, St. Paul
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I have an answer for the Oct. 4 letter writer who asked how the self-employed, the entrepreneurs in Minnesota, who are trying to start a business, manage the very high heath care costs.
Work part-time somewhere else. There are a number of very large corporations that provide full-time heath care benefits for part-time work, for individuals and/or their family members. Most notably, FedEx. Just Google “large companies that offer health benefits for part time work.”
New entrepreneurs can save themselves and their families thousands of dollars in annual heath care costs by working part-time while they are building the foundation of a new business. Plus, they’d earn some nice extra income to help pay the bills.
This may help folks overcome the heath care barrier, which keeps them from taking the entrepreneurial leap. And the Twin Cities sure could use a little help.
According to the 2016 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity report, out of the 40 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington ranks third worst in the level of start-up activity.
Neil F. Anderson, Richfield
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Gov. Mark Dayton should have called a special session of the Legislature the day Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota announced it was leaving the individual insurance market. It is not good enough to say that we know the market is unfair and we need to correct it. There have been many solutions presented in recent articles in the Star Tribune that would work. For our Republican friends, please don’t sit back with hopes of killing the current insurance system, but step up to the plate along with the governor and fix it. If a special session is called, don’t use it to address other issues and prevent it from happening. To all our politicians, you have to quit adding candles to the “Leave Minnesota” cake. The individual insurance premiums are killing us. The setup is unfair, and the insurance companies are manipulating the market.
Dave Dornacker and Jody Spencer, Prior Lake
Swanson is right: Arbitration has not been the consumer’s friend
Kudos to Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson for demanding that Wells Fargo end the practice of forcing binding arbitration on the millions of account holders upon whom it foisted an incredible fraud by opening unauthorized accounts, even apparently charging and collecting fees from some of those victims (Business, Oct. 5). This is a gigantic swindle and lack of conscience on the part of the bank (which, says the Supreme Court under the Citizens United case, has the rights of any citizen). Of course, in criminal actions against an individual, there is always the possibility of jail; I have yet to see a corporate officer behind bars under similar circumstances.
Arbitration has long been recognized as a system beneficial to corporate entities, and although it is a quicker way to a resolution, the playing field is tilted so far in favor of the corporation, even generally to the choice of arbitrators, that the average citizen doesn’t have a chance for justice.
The mere fact that you had a Wells Fargo account should never have been sufficient cause to force a remedy on you in a situation where you never agreed, were uninformed and were the victim of a calculated fraud. This is not an isolated situation, and as the attorney general rightly points out, the threat of litigation, a trial in open court, and facing a jury and damages (and/or punitive damages where permitted) makes for a much more effective deterrent.
Alan Miller, Eagan
ALLINA NURSES’ STRIKE
Provider’s strategy would create a nice little financial loop
A little-known fact about the nurses strike: Nurses are being asked to go to Allina’s plans. This means we will only be allowed to go to Allina clinics, see Allina doctors, stay at Allina hospitals. Kind of a modern-day version of the “company store.”
Keep in mind that Allina has 27,000 employees, all of whom go to their clinics, doctors and hospitals. It’s making millions of dollars a year off its own employees. How is that even legal?
Susan Shannon, Minneapolis
Veritable vandalism to vehicles
Regarding Steve Almond’s Oct. 6 commentary on bumper-sticker politics, why would anyone deliberately trash the appearance of their vehicle by putting any kind of bumper sticker on it, political or otherwise? To pay thousands of dollars for a vehicle then degrade it by slapping on a bumper sticker makes no sense to me.
Karen S. Lee, Cambridge, Minn.
MALL OF AMERICA
For closing on Thanksgiving …
Thank you, MOA! A big, heartfelt, from-the-bottom-of-my-heart thank you!
Mary Breska, Waconia