Readers Write: (April 10): Immigration, domestic abuse and guns, roads vs. transit, children's literature, public awareness

  • Updated: April 9, 2014 - 7:49 PM

Some challenges are indeed best met with open hearts.

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IMMIGRATION

Walls and deprecation won’t resolve this issue

Two letter writers recently weighed in on immigration. One belittled Jeb Bush’s reflection on illegal border-crossing as a “felony of love” committed in order to connect with or take care of family; the reader wrote, incredulously, that stealing to feed one’s family would then also be a felony of love. Well, yes. Taking from others, in desperation, to meet the basic needs of one’s dependents has been our Robin Hood challenge since time began.

The other reader defended the idea of walls to keep people in (the Berlin Wall) as unethical, but walls to keep people out (U.S.-Mexico) as moral. This reminded me of a poem from childhood: “He drew a circle that shut me out — Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle and took him In!” (Edwin Markham, 1852-1940).

Many countries share the immigration challenge. From our comfortable middle-class-and-more homes here in the United States, we righteously cherish Charles Dickens’ stories of conflict between the haves and have-nots as charming lessons of another culture, assuring ourselves that we are virtuous and wise. But we delude ourselves: Legalities will not suffice; these are challenges we must tackle from the heart as well as from the head.

Shawn Gilbert, Bloomington

 

DOMESTIC ABUSE

Gun-control argument was insufficient

As a gun owner myself, I would prefer much harsher penalties for people who commit domestic abuse. The April 9 editorial (“Keep guns away from domestic abusers”) called for stronger background checks for persons wishing to purchase firearms. Who would be responsible for reporting abusers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System? The county? The state? Would persons charged but not convicted be reported? Requiring people to surrender firearms when accused but not convicted would seem to fly in the face of the Constitution.

The editorial reports that 10 of 38 domestic-violence deaths in the state last year were at the hands of abusers with firearms. This equates to 26 percent of the total. What methods or weapons — knives, clubs, ligatures — were used in the bulk of the deaths? Why was this information not cited?

Terrence A. Logan, Minnetonka

 

ROADS VS. TRANSIT

Let transportation method suit situation

Recent commentaries and letters seem based on the pure fantasy that roads fund themselves and that only transit is subsidized. Folks are missing the elephant and seeing the flea when they focus on transit operation and ignore road construction costs.

Road taxes and auto fees cover about two-thirds of current road construction and maintenance, and they are laughably short given infrastructure life cycles and the near-term needs for reinvestment. Under current spending, this aggregate road subsidy dwarfs any transit subsidy. Rural roads, outstate highways and many suburban streets are subsidized the most, if you compare tax receipts to vehicle miles, and by that measure many should remain unpaved.

Economics and the real world mean if you don’t want to raise road taxes, you’re asking for either (a) fewer, poorer roads or (b) keeping the convenience of cars with subsidies from general funds. For most of Minnesota’s geography, roads and cars are an obvious choice. For higher urban densities, any additional lanes become too expensive relative to alternatives. Only a careful, case-by-case analysis will identify the appropriate balance, not some general belief that the New Urbanists are out to take away your roads and “right” to drive.

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