A recent online commentary inappropriately laid the blame on Democratic Party leaders for the difficulty of passing the Build Back Better bill. The author, Matthew Yglesias, complained that BBB is "a grab bag of progressive ideas" instead of being a "thematically coherent piece of legislation." He's wrong.

Build Back Better is a response to an economic mess that began with the dismantling of federal government programs under President Ronald Reagan. For four decades, conservative opposition to the common wealth of this nation has gained power by turning the nation against collective action to help lift all boats (erroneously calling it "socialism"), against science, against reasoned debate in favor of name-calling, against labor unions, against the environment, against all people having access to the ballot, and more.

Ask yourself why our people are so angry and stressed. Look at how tenuous our lives have become. Climate change is a monster unnerving every decision we make. The mutating virus threatens the economy.

We do not need to take seriously the objections of someone like U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin. We need to listen to the promises of President Joe Biden's vision for a stronger nation.

We need Build Back Better. Even Goldman Sachs has shown that without it, the economy will suffer.

This nation has enough money to close the wealth gap. Standing in the way is the attitude of the American people.

Melinda Quivik, St. Paul


While pastor of a church in the late 1950s, I considered myself an independent politically but usually voted Republican. In a conversation with a parishioner who I knew to be a Democrat, I asked him why he was. He answered, "Because I think Democrats help the poor more."

I've thought about that remark many times, and over the years it seems to be true.

Efforts like Social Security, Medicare, SNAP, civil rights legislation and the Affordable Care Act are among many programs initiated by Democrats that have certainly helped those in need and many in the middle class as well.

What programs or major legislation has the Republican Party put forth to help the poor? I'm having trouble thinking of any. A few years ago, Paul Ryan said that poverty is "the most persistent, stubborn problem facing the country." The solution he proposed was to make sure those on welfare are looking for work and limit the social services offered by the federal government while cutting corporate tax rates. This would help them get themselves out of their poverty.

But has that worked? Corporate tax cuts have helped the rich become richer but the poor not so much, even as the jobless rate has fallen very low. Republican friends feel it's not the role of the government to help the poor but rather the job for individuals and charities to do this. But doesn't our Constitution say that the government is to "promote the general welfare"?

Paul Pallmeyer, Lake Elmo


No supernatural input needed

A Dec. 19 letter writer ("The missing ingredients: Compassion, humility") was completely correct about two things: the incident in Hastings, Minn., was terrible, and we shouldn't be meanspirited toward vulnerable people. However, at the end of his letter he seems to suggest that the reason for choosing not to be cruel is a book and moral code authored by a supernatural being.

I beg to differ. As a lifelong atheist I have a moral code that comes from the need to have a functioning society, as well as my values of compassion, kindness and tolerance, as well as an intellectual understanding that cruelty is, well, just awful. I remember moments from my own childhood where I was unkind, and I felt shame and regret then and I feel shame and regret now, looking back. As an adult I tend to do a better job upholding my values than I did as a child. Without a book of rules I've managed to not murder, not shame, not out and not otherwise harm anyone else for quite some time now.

Please give the religious "nones" some credit for being good people, and consider that nobody should need supernatural input to refrain from harming children (or anyone). You don't have to believe in a god to believe in the value of "tikkun olam," which is Hebrew for "repair the world." That is a good start for a code to live by: We can be good without a god.

Erica Klein, Richfield


Defining cruelty

Sarah Stoesz is quoted in Lori Sturdevant's Dec. 19 column ("In post-Roe Minnesota, abortion could be a potent political issue") that it will be "incredibly cruel" if Roe v. Wade is reversed by the Supreme Court. I agree. But it is incredibly cruel right now in a number of states with their own abortion laws. Women have been imprisoned for miscarriages, have given birth in cells with no assistance, no medical person present, and have lost custody of children while imprisoned. A 21-year-old woman in Oklahoma is facing four years in prison for a miscarriage.

More and more religious people are asking why Christian churches are turning to a cold, hard and even cruel legal solution, rather than, say, following the example of Joseph in dealing with a problem pregnancy. A poll reported by Faithful America, a community of grass-roots Christians, reports that 68% of Catholics and 55% of Protestants do not want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Jim Lein, Minneapolis


Help me and possibly others better understand when we as a society should be respectful of "the unborn" and/or life? Sturdevant's column discusses abortion rights and the legal choosing to end the life of an unborn, while a news article the same day discusses the accidental traffic death of an unborn. The accidental death is punishable and charged as "criminal vehicular operation resulting in the death of an unborn child," but the voluntary taking of life of an unborn is sanctioned by the Constitution of Minnesota and Supreme Court of the United States and is celebrated.

W.W. Bednarczyk, Edina


An observation …

I am beginning to suspect that there is a correlation between the results of the city election for mayor this past November (and recent city budgets being passed) and the dramatic uptick in the number of patrol cars I've noticed cruising up and down Nicollet Avenue here in south Minneapolis. Why, I can easily count on one hand the number of police cars I observed driving along Nicollet during the entire past 12 months leading up to Election Day, yet just on one recent afternoon, while walking with granddaughters to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, we noted two patrol cars leisurely passing by within a few minutes of each other. And a third one the next day! My goodness, what re-electing a mayor who promised a huge budget increase to our Minneapolis Police Department won't do for getting our officers back out into the neighborhoods. Not that that's exactly a comfort.

Beth Rademacher, Minneapolis

We want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts here.