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May 16, 2009 Letters to the Editor

Flat tax discussion

The story “Recession hits federal programs” (BDN, May 13) points out that Social Security and Medicare are “heading for insolvency years sooner than previously expected” and that “unless changes in Social Security are enacted, the retirement fund … will be depleted … earlier than expected.” Nowhere in the article (or any-where else) is there a suggestion that enacting a flat tax to fund the programs would save them.

Currently, some of those high-flying financiers who caused the worldwide financial collapse — and then helped themselves to taxpayer-supplied performance bonuses — pay their entire Social Security-Medicare (FICA) tax sometime during the first day of the year while the poor souls who supplied the performance bonuses to those same high fliers must pay that tax for the entire year.

It strikes me as bizarre that the most regressive of taxes, a flat tax on income, is considered so radical that it cannot even be mentioned.

However, I doubt Social Security or Medicare would run out of funds anytime soon were the likes of Larry Summers to pay 15 percent of his entire income to support those programs as do people making less than $102,000.

Karen Saum


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Health care diagnosis

I recently watched “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” and listened to the discussions about health care. This was not Fox “News,” so the guests did not scream at each other or claim that anyone not agreeing with them was unpatriotic. George Will, the voice of reason in the Republican Party, claimed that we did not need health care reform because “80 percent of Americans are satisfied with their health insurance.”

The health care system in our country is terrible. We allow for-profit corporations, HMOs, to make decisions regarding our health care. It is in the interest of HMOs to maximize profits. HMOs hire lobbyists to fight to enact laws and regulations that allow them (HMOs) to create greater profits. In this system, profit is king and the well-being of the vast majority (only 20 percent according to George Will) is ignored.

Remember John McCain’s solution to the health care problem? He wanted to deregulate HMOs. The Republican Party believes that deregulation worked so well in the financial sector, it will work for the health care sector.

The Republican Party and the Democratic Party (both paid for by lobbyists) tells us that deregulation and privatization will lead to more efficiency and lower prices. It never has and it never will.

It is interesting to hear about HMO executives telling President Obama that they want to help regulate health care costs. They are afraid that the system they created, which has been so profitable to them, is in danger of being replaced with a single-payer system.

Ron Staschak


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Citizen’s arrest

I wish to make a citizen’s arrest — of myself — after an incident that occurred in the middle of our fair city Bangor on State Street yesterday.

You see, I am guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and nearly damaging the minivan that crossed three lanes of traffic while its driver was preoccupied with the cell phone that was cemented to her ear as she crossed in front of me. Perhaps my motorcycle smashing into the side of her van would have caused mini-mal damage to her vehicle, but hey, I was on a bike and we don’t merit the courtesy of right-of-way, especially when a cell phone call is taking place. I’m just glad I didn’t get any blood on her paint job; what a mess I would have made!

I hope I didn’t interrupt her ordering a pizza, checking in on the kids or taking a business call. While not illegal, rudeness is no excuse when someone is taking care of urgent cell phone business while driving. How thoughtless of me to think that I was clearly visible to the van driver before she and her cell phone crossed the intersection. Throw the book at me, governor.

Lori Wingo


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RV policies unfair

I have a difficult time understanding why as owners of a small campground in Maine we are required to have a license allowing RVs on our property, certified water testing, proper sewer specifications, liability insurance, application of 7 percentage lodging tax, etc., yet Wal-Mart and other public parking lots can be a free-for-all for RVs. This is ludicrous and unfair to the small-business owner.

It is a struggle enough in today’s economy, as is being located in Down East Maine, and we rely on our summer tourists as our source of income. We are fortunate enough to have seasonal campers and don’t solely rely on overnight guests traveling through, but there was a time when we did.

Who can compete with Wal-Mart, which on any given night has 10 campers or more? Where do you suppose these guests dump their sewage? Fill their water tank?

The beautiful State of Maine yet again makes it very difficult for small-business owners to keep their heads above water, especially in the “other Maine,” Down East.

Jim and Karen Davis

Pleasant Lake Camping Area


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Rules for gifted, talented

Bangor schools have done an excellent job promoting rigorous programming for students. As the point person at the Maine Department of Education responsible for our Advanced Placement Initiative, I am gratified by the number and diversity of AP courses offered at Bangor High School.

Bangor’s efforts provide such rigorous courses for all students, not just gifted and talented students, which is the responsibility of all schools — to provide challenging coursework for all students. The use of G-T funds for these courses is not allowed unless the courses meet the criteria in the state’s rules — that the courses are solely for G-T students and go beyond ordinary programming. While the department has not sought to recover past G-T funds from Bangor, we cannot continue to send them to Bangor for nonallowed programs at the expense of all other schools in the state.

Some complained the only solution would be to limit the courses to G-T students, thus creating an “elitist and exclusionary” program so that the school could be reimbursed with G-T funds for the classes. To the contrary, the solution is to fund AP and honors courses with regular instruction and other funds, as other Maine high schools do.

G-T funds have very specific purposes and must be used for a specific population. It is not at the commissioner’s or department’s discretion to allow the use of those funds for non-allowed uses.

The law does not prohibit the teaching of AP and honors courses; it requires that BHS do what every high school in the state does: pay for the courses out of the appropriate funds.

Wanda Monthey

Team Leader for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment

Maine Department of Education

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