In this season of complaining about taxes, tax forms, the tax code and the IRS, I’d like to offer a different opinion: that the women and men who serve in the IRS do have hearts.
In September 2016, just as a family health crisis was heating up, I paid my estimated taxes from the wrong checkbook. My check bounced. And the IRS, justly, assessed both interest and a rather large penalty for the nine days my tax obligation went unpaid. Obviously, I paid my outstanding taxes quickly. I then wrote to the faceless IRS explaining how this mistake occurred and asking that it forgive both the interest and the penalty.
Behind the faceless IRS was an IRS agent who decided that both the interest and penalty could be rescinded. Every cent of the interest and penalty I paid was eventually returned. The faceless IRS is made up of hundreds of thousands of people who live next door to you, or ride the bus with you, or shop at your supermarket. And if you make an honest mistake that a computer can’t recalculate, there’s a human being ready to listen as you explain and use her/his humane judgment.
Elaine Frankowski, Minneapolis
As long as we’re talking about alternatives, remember nuclear
While an April 3 letter writer is rightly concerned about the hidden environmental costs of solar power, her solution (putting the panels in space) doesn’t really change that equation by much; a panel on Earth generates a peak of 200 watts per square meter, and in space it’s 272. The tailings from rare-earth mining contain thorium, a lightly radioactive element that could be used in liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTRs) that cannot melt down, cannot explode, and produce a tiny fraction of the waste of current reactors, at much less cost. Several companies, such as Thorcon and Terrestrial Energy, are moving to license their designs of these molten salt reactors.
Even coal-loving Kentucky recently removed its moratorium on nuclear power, and it’s long past time that Minnesota got rid of its antiquated nuclear ban, too. Our nuclear plants at Prairie Island and Monticello will need to be replaced eventually, and there is no alternative that can supply as much clean CO2-free power as reliably and as safely as nuclear.
Keith Pickering, Watertown
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The April 3 letter writer wrote about mining of rare-earth metals and tailing ponds for manufacturing solar panels. It sounded like she was disturbed about it.
Well. Most of these metals are also used in manufacturing integrated circuits used in all of your electronics today — cellphones, computers, televisions, etc. So think about it!
Joseph N. Umphrey Jr., Maple Grove
‘BILLY GRAHAM RULE’
Three ways of looking at this game plan for fidelity
A note of thanks to the Star Tribune for printing the April 1 article “ ‘The Billy Graham Rule,’ Mike Pence and attitudes about women,” and to Laura Turner for writing it. I’m not sure many readers were familiar with, or even aware of, this famous “rule of conduct.” If we can extrapolate the exercise of this rule into our society, we would see a seismic shift in the number of unwed mothers and fatherless families.
The author’s conclusion that the Billy Graham Rule finds fault in the bodies of women is incorrect. The rule finds fault in the heart of the man. Jeremiah 17:9: The heart is deceitful — who can know it? Rev. Graham understands this basic truth and principle.
The Good Book says that we should come together so we can reason together. Good advice.
Terry T. Lundberg, Apple Valley
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I agree with Turner that it is unjust and completely unfair when a woman is portrayed as a threat by her pastor just because she happens to be a woman. It is insulting that a male pastor should demand that his wife accompany him while giving council to a woman, or while discussing professional matters with a woman. What does that say about all pastors? Can they be trusted, or not? Temptations abound, yet a dutiful pastor has the strength of his convictions and beliefs. There should be no reason for his soulmate and partner for life to distrust him.
A clingy wife who sits beside her husband to guard and babysit seems like an enabler of the highest order. Wise and self-respecting men and women have the foresight to keep possible deviations and desires at bay. Granted, it is not a perfect world, but if you can’t trust your pastor, who can you trust? For sure, the church is the last bastion of intractable thought, and invariably it is also the reason women end up taking the fall. We simply are not to be blamed.
Sharon E. Carlson, Andover
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There is no denying that some men simply discard their marriage vows or are overcome by lust and have sexual relations with women other than their wives. Did that make Martin Luther King Jr. any less of a moral leader to all Americans, or did it deter President Lyndon Johnson from passing some of the most important civil-rights legislation in our history? Was not FDR seeing another woman even while leading us to victory in World War II? I think it just proves there are different kinds of social morality, and one does not necessary negate the other.
Willard B. Shapira, Roseville
Inequitable enforcement, or an understanding about safety?
Regarding the March 31 commentary about motorcycle noise by John Freivalds (“This part of spring isn’t music to the ears”): Amen to that! Freivalds writes that a Harley motorcycle out of the factory emits 80 decibels, and that most Harleys are modified to “straight pipe” with no muffler so that they emit 100 decibels. This is the best example of racist and classist law enforcement there is. Every Harley I see (mostly hear) is violating the law on noise limits of vehicles. I think they are illegal when they are bought, but certainly when they’re modified to straight pipes. Yet I have never seen a police officer pull over a Harley and ticket it for excess noise.
If a black person drove around with windows down, blaring rap music at 100 decibels, that driver would be pulled over and ticketed every single time upon passing a cop. A poor person who cannot afford to fix his or her muffler will be ticketed for excess noise within a month driving around the Twin Cities, and if the ticket isn’t paid, he or she will eventually be jailed. Police: Do your job! Enforce the law on a nondiscriminatory basis.
Hugh McTavish, Pine Springs
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For someone who claims he doesn’t have an issue with Harley Davidsons, it sure doesn’t resonate in Freivald’s description of not only the riders, “portly, tattooed and 51 years of age,” or in his disdain for the decibels that come from the bikes’ pipes. I’m no bean-counter; in fact, I’ve been a nurse for 28 years and have seen many a motorcycle trauma come through the doors. So I’m here to say: Loud pipes save lives! Why do you think drivers are advised to look before lane changes? Everyone’s distracted, and the louder you can be, the better chance you have of not becoming a statistic.
Laurie Faber, Minnetonka