The pharmacist who incorrectly fantasizes that a certain pill "end[s] human life in the womb" gets to practice his "profession in line with [his] beliefs," according to his attorney ("Pharmacist wins birth control verdict," Aug. 6). I wonder if the jurors would have found that to be the case if a Jehovah's Witness refused to deliver blood products to a hemorrhaging patient. Or if an Orthodox Jew declined to come in to operate on the Sabbath. Or if a Muslim blocked a shipment of a lifesaving transplant organ from a pig.
Our world's religions have inspired billions into great acts of mercy. They have also led to misery beyond belief by fanatics, and all of the texts contain rules and bans that modern parishioners ignore for good reason. The United States of America is a secular country, friends, founded on the principle that religion is a private matter. Pray whenever you want! The world could use more of it. But to send a woman into a snowstorm to drive 100 miles, endangering her actual life, out of his misguided desire to allow a total stranger's sperm and egg to unite? This is a fetish, and a pharmacist who has no trouble filling prescriptions for other meds that have documented potential for fetal harm is simply obsessing on matters that are none of their business. This woman could have been hurt or killed driving to get her entirely valid prescription due to his blockade, but the actual living, breathing person at the counter was less important to him than her uterine lining.
Thanks to the woman bringing the lawsuit and for enduring ridiculous harassment in the court about her personal life. I hope the future litigation is more successful. If Americans really agree with the rubbish that a person's "ethical and religious beliefs" allow one to act however one wishes in a job, they'd better think about what that could mean to them or their loved ones if the "beliefs" sound insane. Sometimes they are.
Cheryl Bailey, St. Paul
So if I own a pharmacy and want all my customers served, would I legally be able to ask job applicants if their religious beliefs prevent them from filling certain prescriptions and then refuse to hire them if it does? Or, would that expose me to a religious discrimination lawsuit?
Patrick Hergott, Excelsior
Has anyone else noticed the irony in the statement made by pharmacist George Badeaux's lawyer?
"Medical professionals should be free to practice their profession in line with their beliefs." Should this not include physicians and other health care providers who work in states that have limited access to reproductive health care for women? Is it only "pro-lifers" who are above the law?
Elisa Wright, Bloomington
Don't villainize this industry
It saddened me to read the reprint of Farhad Manjoo's New York Times piece on the private equity industry ("Everything you'd want to know (or not) about private equity," Opinion Exchange, Aug. 8). It is symbolic of one of our society's great ills, vilifying those and that of which you do not know. Whether it be the private equity industry, protesters, police, clergy, etc., people feel emboldened today to distort and ignore the objective truth to further their own agenda.
I have been in the industry of providing debt and minority capital to buyouts (the private equity industry) for most of my 40-plus year career. Have I seen some selfish self-serving people in the industry, yes. Just like every other industry or profession. But the majority are good people trying to do their best for their investors, which includes most of America (endowments, pension funds, etc.).
But the characterization of the industry by Manjoo is entirely different from my own experiences.
In the 1980s there were instances of buyouts whose purpose was to shrink a manufacturing concern that was in a losing battle with overseas competition and return that capital to shareholders. Those days are long gone. Almost every transaction that I have invested in over the last 25 years has been one in which the private equity sponsor's goal is to rapidly expand the business by investing capital to expand its labor force, capabilities and product lines.
Another change is in the capital structures. Yes, in the 1980s one could make the assertion that excessive debt was placed on some buyout targets. However, almost every buyout I have invested in over the past 20-plus years has 40 to 50% of the purchase price invested in equity by the private equity sponsor, providing a large cushion for debt providers.
Manjoo gives examples of big bankruptcies with companies owned by private equity sponsors. His examples are the exceptions and also dated. I have been involved in approximately 200 buyout transactions over the past 20 years and not one of those companies have entered bankruptcy. The private equity sponsors have too much invested to allow that to happen without first investing additional dollars to shore up any weaknesses.
Manjoo's comments supposedly center around the current debate on how to tax private equity "carry" payments — payments to private equity firms equal to a certain percentage of profits derived by eventually selling the ownership interests of the firms they buy. Buying and selling stock has historically been taxed at capital gain rates. However, some people argue that these "carry" payments are disguised performance payments. There are actually decent arguments on both sides, and a good debate is warranted. But the misstatements about the industry itself contained in Manjoo's piece are irrelevant, misleading and simply sad.
Mike McHugh, Mendota Heights
I am writing in response to the Aug. 4 gunshots outside the Nike store at the Mall of America ("Gunshot and chaos at MOA," Aug. 5). I was at work when a friend texted me from Florida, asking me if I was OK. She had heard that the Mall of America was under lockdown due to a shooting. She, like many other Americans, view the Mall of America as a top tourist destination in Minnesota. I urge that the Mall of America change its security to match that of Disney World and other theme parks. I propose that the Mall of America install metal detectors and security personnel at each major entrance. I propose that the exterior doors of any department store or retail store be exit-only, and that only four main entrances remain open to incoming pedestrians on, for example, the second floor.
Like many Minnesotans, I have enjoyed back-to-school shopping, holiday shopping and going to the Mall of America to eat and to shop throughout the year. After this week's shooting, I will only go to the Mall of America if it installs metal detectors similar to Disney World and other major theme parks.
Kyia Gordon, Shoreview
In response to another shooting, Gov. Tim Walz tweeted, "Tonight's violence at the Mall of America is unacceptable. These brazen incidents will not be tolerated."
These incidents will absolutely be tolerated. Under his watch, crime has risen to record levels. While reasons are many, what is often overlooked is his (and his predecessors') appointment of liberal judges. (Yes, judges have no party affiliation. But they know where their bread is buttered.) Time after time violent criminals with multiple felony convictions are spun out on little or no bail. They are then given downward departures during sentencing (if they bother to show up), leaving them free to terrorize our communities. So no, governor, we don't believe you. It's time for a change.
Ryan Sheahan, Roseville