Chuck Chalberg's opinion piece ("Define 'progressive,'" Nov. 27) was, as usual, a well-crafted assault on a straw man. He got to choose the description of a "progressive" and he also got to choose who to compare them to. If his point was to say that bad (or dumb) things happened under the guise of progressivism in the past, he is correct. If his point was that humans, progressives or otherwise, are flawed, then he did a fine job as well. But those weren't really his points, were they? His key point was that today's progressives are pursuing ideas — ideas that he doesn't agree with — and will one day regret them. Probably true, but so what? That's human behavior and, as a historian, he knows that.
Do I agree with all the progressives' ideas or goals? Absolutely not; I think many are misguided, which is my right. On the other hand, who agrees with everything their chosen party and candidates believes in? That's why I choose the candidate that I think is most right and will do the most good — or least damage — to the country now and in the future. For me, right now, that's the Democrats.
Chalberg is just sure that if progressives were just a little more like conservatives, they wouldn't pursue those wild and crazy ideas. What he doesn't seem to grasp is that in many ways, they might be more conservative than most Republicans. How's that possible? Because most Democrats, it would seem, have the same optimistic view of the future and still propose ideas to make it better, as they always have — some good, some not so good. Some will work, some won't — but let's leave that to history.
As for Republicans and so-called conservatives? Compare Eisenhower Republicans to those today. Now who's the radical?
D. Roger Pederson, Minneapolis
Chalberg gives his perspective on how the policies of U.S. political leaders, past and present, meet the definition of a "progressive" politician. Chalberg also gives his viewpoint on progressivism and climate change. And since this issue is one of the more contentious issues today, often dividing conservatives, who frequently deny or downplay this crisis, and progressives, I would like to challenge Chalberg's opinion on this topic.
Chalberg first states that Roosevelt can be considered a progressive because of his aggressive preservationist policies. And I certainly do agree. But Chalberg also contends that because Roosevelt favored "maximum sustained yield" of the forests, the Rough Rider would not endorse the "current 'green energy' campaign to combat climate change."
I'm thinking, though, that if Roosevelt were actually alive today, and seriously studied the science regarding climate change, he would understand that greenhouse gasses, generated by the burning of fossil fuels, cause more intense periods of heavy rain and significantly longer dry periods to occur. And as a result, insect infestations and forest fires have caused a lumber shortage, which has led to a significant increase in homebuilding costs. So Roosevelt's opinion today about climate change, I believe, would much more likely be in line with the majority of 21st-century progressives.
I do agree, however, with Chalberg that our country must head in a direction where the Constitution forms the basis of government policy. And while our forebears certainly didn't see the climate crisis coming, I believe their tenet that we must "promote the general welfare" is very relevant today. Our nation must be highly proactive in addressing the climate crisis issue, especially when the health and lives of millions of people worldwide can be jeopardized.
J.R. Clark, Minneapolis
Can't we copy other states?
In response to the editorial counterpoint "Camera cops: Something's wrong with this picture" (Opinion Exchange, Dec. 1): Many other states allow "photo cops," both for red light runners and speeders. If they can do it, why can't Minnesota amend its current laws to allow the same enforcement method? I worked in downtown Minneapolis the last time it was tried, and it was very effective at increasing the safety in the areas where the photo cops were installed. On top of that, after 20 years the technology has become so much better that drivers faces should be clearly visible. With careful crafting, hopefully, the laws can be changed to allow the use of "photo cops," because lives would be saved!
Joe Tretter, Minneapolis
Regarding "Camera cops: Something's wrong with this picture": The writer lists what led to "disastrous consequences" when cameras were used to catch speeders — 20 years ago. He notes low-bidder cameras that led to blurry photos. Well, we've come a long way in 20 years in terms of digital photography, so let's install cameras that will offer clear photos. Fixed!
He laments "The levying of a $142 fine on an owner of a vehicle even if someone else was driving it." How is that even an issue? Tell the owner to ask the driver to pay them back. And if they will not pay them back, maybe the driver should stop loaning them the car. Duh.
He worries about "Imposing the burden on the vehicle owners to prove they were not driving at the time of the snapshot." See: better cameras and making the driver pay you back.
His final "defect" is "a dose of racism because the cameras were disproportionately placed in or near low-income inner city areas." I agree. I drive Interstate 94 from the St. Croix River into the cities, and going 73 mph in the 70 mph zone, I am passed by nearly everyone. Once I cross Interstate 494, I'll go 60 mph and most of those who would have passed me before the drop in speed limit are still doing well over 70. If everyone who sped on that route was charged $142, we could line the same roadways with gold in a couple of years. (Oh, and many of those cars are from Wisconsin. Just sayin'.)
Luke Soiseth, Lake St. Croix Beach
Another shameful revenue report
The Nov. 29 report on UnitedHealth Group's expected profits for this year and beyond is an excellent lesson in why our health care systems are struggling ("UnitedHealth expects profit gain"). In the report (which was made to an investor conference), we learn that for every dollar of premium that UHG collects, it spends 82 cents on medical care. The comparable figure for traditional Medicare is 98 cents.
I'm sure that UHG's shareholders are smiling. Their patients: not so much.
Jim Hart, Stillwater
The writer is a retired physician.
In reality, there is only one reason why Sanford and Fairview health systems want to pursue a merger, and it has little to do with improving the care of people whether in rural areas or urban: They both want to make more money. And guess who will be paying to fill their coffers? Along that same line, maybe we should also call attention to UnitedHealth's $360 billion revenue projection for 2023, as reported in Wednesday's Business section. It's so obvious, it hurts.
Paul Waytz, Minneapolis
The writer is a retired physician.