Dec. 31 Letters to the Editor

Posted Dec. 30, 2008, at 7:15 p.m.

Shoe-throwing not attack

In response to the letter by Mr. Chapman of Rockport (“Double standard,” Dec. 26) concerning “free speech,” it seems we have an apples and oranges situation here, in my opinion.

The Maine store owner was essentially yelling fire in a theater with his hateful “lottery,” inciting others to violence and potential death. It was one of the most disgusting displays of bad taste and stupidity in the climate we live in that I have ever seen. We all know there are those who would contemplate a gross act out of hate and misplaced fervor, they just need a prod from someone.

The shoe-throwing in Iraq was not under a free speech constitution, really under not much of a constitution at all. The president himself laughed about the incident and made several lame jokes on television for all the world to hear and see. Yes, it was an embarrassment, but hardly an “attack.”

I think we have begun the slippery slope in this country to react without thought and it seems to me that is a very dangerous slope to be on.

Sharon E. Weber

Calais

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Don’t tune us out

I write in response to David Morse’s article “Don’t tune out MPBN.” What a strange title, as it is MPBN proposing to tune us out!

This article says absolutely nothing to support their decision to stop serving the very locations that can get NPR programming nowhere else. Other places in western and southern Maine can get NPR through New Hampshire and Massachusetts stations. We cannot.

The stations MPBN are cutting serve the poorest in Maine. Deciding to serve only the more affluent counties does not sound like NPR’s mission.

Further, the cuts are not even good business, as I believe that the contributions MPBN has received from our counties surely will stop. I know that mine will, and that I will not contribute even after service is restored, as I now know how little MPBN thinks of my county. And I know that if push comes to shove again, it will be our service — not that of Portland or Augusta — that will be cut again.

David Morse wrote that stopping programs like “Maine Things Considered” would be “an abdication of our responsibility.” How is stopping all programs to some of us not a greater abdication? There are other ways to save money; one fair one is rotating outages, one or two stations per month, until all are covered or until service can be restored fully. Another is to stop purchasing nonessentials such as early morning BBC coverage.

Totally shutting down our stations is certainly not the best solution.

Diana Sholtz

Eastport

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Senate seat for sale

After reviewing the news for the last few weeks about the buying and selling of U.S. Senate seats, I see little difference ethically and philosophically between the governor of Illinois attempting to sell a Senate seat to the highest bidder and a woman from New York attempting to buy a Senate seat based upon her ability to raise money because of her name recognition.

Charles L. Boothby

Bangor

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Hospitals must be paid

The governor’s supplemental budget cuts MaineCare reimbursements to critical access hospitals and cuts reimbursements to hospital-affiliated physicians for a total loss of $33 million.

Hospitals are more than understanding of the dire straits in which the state finds itself and understand the painful choices ahead for our elected officials because of a dramatic downturn in the national economy. But the BDN’s editorial “Budget Blueprint” (Dec. 18) implied that these hospital cuts were a “reasonable change.”

The only reason critical access hospitals are reimbursed at 117 percent of cost is to reimburse them for a tax the state imposes on them under a mechanism called tax and match that is designed to draw down federal money. That extra federal money goes to the general benefit of the Medicaid program. So now what the newspaper deems is reasonable actually is a straight tax without the match on the smallest hospitals in Maine. I can’t think of worse public policy.

The editorial also says that the state should wait to pay hospitals the more than $400 million they are owed for care delivered years ago. I wonder if the paper would think it was “reasonable” policy if their advertisers waited four years to pay their bills?

Hospitals have played bank long enough for state government. It’s time for the state to pay its bills.

Steven R. Michaud

President, Maine Hospital Association

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