It’s great we now have a hands-free cellphone law (“New hands-free law should save lives,” editorial, April 13). Now we need to address the need to navigate a lower dashboard flat-screen to change the radio station.

Rich Gudim, Bloomington

TAX TIME

It may seem a moment to complain, but consider things another way

This week I wrote a relatively (for me) large check to the IRS. After grumbling to my wife and feeling sorry for myself, I remembered seven brothers from Washington, D.C., with whom I did business 30-plus years ago. Their father was an immigrant from Russia who arrived in the U.S. with nothing. He instilled in his sons the fact that it was a privilege rather than a burden to pay taxes. One year the brothers paid a little more than a million dollars in federal taxes and were so proud that they brought their tax receipts to their father’s grave and celebrated. Some people think we are taxed to death. After recalling the story and looking at all we have in this country, I think the payment I sent in represents one hell of a bargain.

Bruce Lemke, Orono

• • •

Tax time is a reminder that priorities matter. The 2017 tax law, which heavily favored large corporations and the wealthy, is a perfect example of putting the wrong things first. But the new Working Families Tax Relief Act does it right. It would significantly boost income for working families by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, and give families an additional tax credit for raising young children. That’s more money for basic necessities, home repairs, maintaining a car to get to work, and in some cases, education to get a higher-paying job. This bill would benefit 44 million families and lift 11 million children above the poverty line.

Priorities matter. It’s time we fixed our tax laws to give working people and children a fair shot to get ahead. Congress should make expanding the EITC and CTC a priority in any upcoming tax legislation.

Don Hon, Minneapolis

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA

Best comparison of administrative expenses is with similar schools

I read with interest Michael McNabb’s analysis of University of Minnesota administrative expenses (“U pare,” April 7), and university President Eric Kaler’s response (“Attack on U administrative costs misses key points,” April 12). There is an additional important point to keep in mind: The appropriate comparison is not the university and the state of Minnesota; it’s with other major public research universities (Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Texas, UCLA, etc.). Comparing the university and the state is comparing zebras to maple trees. Those universities all face the same kinds of expenses and the same needs and endless demands from the public, students, faculty and the state (and the federal government), and try to respond to those calls for service and information by hiring people who can deliver it. Compare all those schools with the university. Without data at hand, my guess is that the proportion of expenditures Mr. McNabb claims are “administration” will be very similar across all of them.

Gary Engstrand, Minneapolis

VACCINATION

We need this conversation; the days without challenging doctors are past

The media portrays anyone who questions vaccines as anti-vaccine. This is not true; the majority of us think the process could be safer, with fewer manufacturer studies and more independent studies. We live in the age that allows us access to professional, peer-reviewed, evidenced-based information. I can find vaccine information from experts who question safety, so why shouldn’t parents stand up and question? The days are gone when physicians are not going to be questioned.

Manufacturers are immune from litigation. This should give you pause! We have paid out $5 billion to vaccine-injured infants and children. This should give you pause! America has the sickest children in all of the developed countries. This should give you pause! Look at the vaccine insert at the possible adverse reactions. This should give you pause!

Instead of berating parents whose motive is protecting children, let’s have the conversation. Committees need to be formed with both sides represented, and instead of making it about vaccines, how about investigating what could possibly making children in this country sick? Can we just start there?

Karen Haselman, Hudson, Wis.

• • •

What a breathtaking headline in Monday’s paper: “Measles kills more than 1,200 in Madagascar.” Will it take a headline with “the United States” substituted for “Madagascar” to sway the anti-vaccine parents to science-based sensibility and action?

Melinda Erickson, Roseville

SMOKING AGE

Let adults be adults at age 18, not ‘conditional’ ones until 21

When the smoking age is raised to 21, what will be the consequences when a “conditional adult” is caught smoking? (“Tobacco-buying age should be 21 in state,” editorial, April 15.)

Currently 18-year-olds can vote, get married, even make life-or-death situations in combat. They also go to adult court and possibly adult prison — sometimes for the crime of not being an adult.

It’s time to end this “conditional adulthood.”

There was a time when 18-year-olds were full adults and we survived. Let adults be adults and make adult decisions (good as well as bad) without criminalizing behavior for some but not others.

Mark Roeser, Shakopee

CATHOLIC CHURCH

Letter writer doesn’t know actual meaning of papal infallibility

Regarding “Pope Benedict’s letter: How to navigate dual authorities” (Readers Write, April 15): I appreciate the letter writer’s willingness to admit ignorance (“… but what do I know? I’m not even Catholic!”). What baffles me is his readiness to publicly mock a religious faith s/he clearly does not understand.

Papal infallibility in no way means the pope is absolutely right in everything he says or does (even St. Peter, our first pope, was clearly a fallible man). What it does mean is that the pope, usually in union with the bishops, is protected from solemnly and formally (key words) teaching as truth something that is not. We call it “ex cathedra,” translated as “from the chair” — referring to his official position as pope when teaching a doctrine regarding faith or morals addressed to the whole world. It has been exercised relatively rarely in history. I suppose this is difficult to understand, but — believe it or not — thinking, questioning Catholics have managed to figure it out. I encourage the author to do more thinking and questioning to find out the truth before writing another derisive letter.

Eileen Wilkin, Mendota Heights

• • •

At a time when the Catholic hierarchy and laity are working to address the church’s crimes and omissions, Pope Benedict pokes his head out to blow smoke and opine as to cause and duration of the problem (“With letter on sex abuse. Benedict returns to public,” April 12). Our collective shame will hardly be alleviated by a man who wisely questioned his own ability to lead, resigning in 2013, spinning a fantasy that somehow the flower children are to blame for priestly misbehavior and hierarchical coverup.

He writes, “It could be said that in the 20 years from 1960 to 1980, the previously normative standards regarding sexuality collapsed entirely.” He claims that the sexual revolution deemed pedophilia as “allowed and appropriate.” So are we to derive then, that during the sexual revolution, the clergy suddenly took advantage of the new norms to sexually abuse children?

Surely Pope Benedict knows that at least as far back as the Council of Elvira in 309 C.E. the church has tried to regulate clergy sexual practices, sometimes involving married clergy, but all too often involving morally reprehensible and criminal behavior.

Locally, Archbishop Bernard Hebda seems earnest in his efforts to examine past and current abuses with eyes wide open and engaging the laity in these efforts. It is not helpful to see a man who held the most highly esteemed position in the church attempt to cloud our vision and reformative energies with limp excuses for deplorable crimes at the highest levels.

Kathleen Wedl, Edina