Studebaker, Rio, Nash
I have been thinking about GMC’s request to the federal government for a bailout on their debts. My mind goes back to Studebaker, Rio trucks, and the Nash Rambler. No one was around to bail them out of their financial difficulties or make up for lost jobs. They instead became part of our history. Maybe it is time for GMC to join them.
Donald A. Copeland
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Medicare drug tool
It was unfortunate that Meg Haskell’s article regarding the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, “Time to decide,” (BDN, Nov. 11) failed to mention the powerful tool that Medicare makes available on its Web site for comparing the total costs of competing drug plans. Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder (medicare.gov/pdphome.asp) is an interactive tool that will allow you to enter the medications you are currently taking, as well as other personal preferences, and then provide you with a cost comparison of all the competing plans that are available in your area. I believe that it is the most effective tool available to assist consumers in finding their way through the Medicare Part D maze.
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Sales tax solution
Possible budget solution: Once upon a time Maine had a 6 percent sales tax. Then it was reduced to 5.5 percent and then down to 5 percent. Sales taxes are extremely equitable across the income ranges of the citizens. Even our welcome visitors share in funding our infrastructure via sales taxes.
I propose that bipartisan legislators explore the option of increasing the sales tax by one or maybe even two pennies on a dollar on all items across the board. Maybe the state would not have to cut educational funding and lay off workers. This option deserves a close look by the Legislature, in my mind.
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Propane vs. electric
For years we’ve all been told that oil and propane are cheaper options than electric heat, and for quite some time that was true. I’ve suspected for months, however, that the situation had changed, and only recently had it proven to me — by a propane company.
Tiger Fuel of Virginia’s Web site, tigerfuel.com/calculator.htm, has a calculator that compares the cost of electric and propane heat, presumably because at the time the cost of propane was about 80 cents per gallon, and therefore it was indeed cheaper to heat with propane than electricity. However, current prices are nearly four times higher.
Using Bangor Hydro’s highest electric rate and rounding up to the nearest penny (.09 per kWh) and a propane rate of $3 per gallon — much lower than my last delivery that was nearly a dollar more expensive — the calculator tells me that propane is nearly twice as expensive as electric as a means for heating, $4.67 per 1000 BTU vs. $2.63.
I’m only mentioning this because wholesale propane rates have dropped nearly as quickly as oil prices, but retail costs to consumers have not followed, and I’m hoping that this situation is rectified immediately by our local propane dealers.
Eric S. Taylor
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I disagree with Martha Dickinson’s take on Sarah Smiley’s column, Nov. 10 (“Election distressing to military families”). While I have not always agreed with the comments expressed in Smiley’s columns, I thought she did an excellent job at capturing some of the feelings that military families may have with the election of Barack Obama as our next president.
Although I can agree that military service does not, in itself, make a person (male or female) more qualified to be president, a clear understanding of what it means to be in the military does. For example, I would feel comforted to know that relatives or friends of President-elect Obama’s served in the military. Maybe he greeted a cousin or uncle returning home from serving in Vietnam or maybe a close family friend who was returning from service in Desert Storm. If President-elect Obama had personal experiences with those who had served in the military, I would not be as skeptical about his role as the commander in chief, the most awesome responsibility he will have.
My hope is that President-elect Obama recognizes that he needs to have on his staff people with military experience, such as Gen. Colin Powell, to give him credibility with military families and those of us who pay more than lip service in our support of the military.
Wanda L. Lincoln
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On the day before the last election, some voters received attack mailers directly from the state political party headquarters in Augusta. In accordance with existing state law, the mailers were sent without the knowledge or consent of the candidate being supported.
In the House District 20 race, the mailer raised the candidate’s recall from the local school board while he was on active military duty in 1997. In another House race, the mailer raised 2001 allegations against the candidate which were later found to be unsubstantiated.
Such tactics are commonplace at the national level but have until recently been rare in local Maine politics. However, the recent apparent successes of unapproved, last minute, negative campaign tactics may indicate the nature of future campaigns.
Should state law be changed to require that government funded candidates approve of organized independent expenditures on their behalf by their political parties or should independent expenditures in clean elections be prohibited?
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In reference to the article in the Bangor Daily News weekend edition (Nov. 8-9) about Maine citizens flocking to buy assault rifles out of fear that the new administration will immediately pass a law to ban them, I cannot comment on what the new administration has in mind, but the question that troubles me is: Where do we draw the line?
If we accept that citizens may own an operational assault rifle, then why not Stinger missiles or flame throwers or artillery pieces? Why not operational hand grenades? What is the tipping point for what is reasonable and what is not?
Growing up in the 1950s, most of my relatives owned guns and were avid hunters. I don’t recall that they ever claimed to need guns to protect themselves from their neighbors or their government. In fact, most people never even locked their doors. Where did this fear come from? Was it the Cold War? The civil rights and antiwar activity of the 1960s?
I believe Americans have the right to have guns for hunting or protecting hearth and home, but not guns whose only purpose is mass, indiscriminate killing.