Letters to the Editor for June 19

Posted June 18, 2009, at 5:35 p.m.

Maine marriage law

The Legislature has made severe changes to Maine’s marriage law. One change completely removes this section: “The people of the state of Maine find that the union of one man and one woman joined in traditional monogamous marriage is of inestimable value to society; the state has a compelling interest to nurture and promote the unique institution of traditional monogamous marriage in the support of harmonious families and the physical and mental health of children; and that the state has the compelling interest in promoting the moral values inherent in traditional monogamous marriage.”

Those pushing for counterfeit marriage should explain why they eliminated this. What do they object to in this statement “marriage is of inestimable value to society”? What is untrue in this phrase “the state has a compelling interest to nurture and promote the unique institution”? Why is it bad for our marriage law to support “harmonious families and the physical and mental health of children”?

Furthermore, this legislation deletes all references to monogamous marriage, such as “the state has the compelling interest in promoting the moral values inherent in traditional monogamous marriage.” Why? Why did those who claim to want marriage for themselves delete this section rather than amending it?

Robert A. Simpson

Whiting

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Square-peg policy

The BDN’s June 6 editorial touted the necessity of school district consolidation. In the same BDN, grades were given to district consolidation by the education scholar Gordon Donaldson as detailed by reporter Rich Hewitt. Unlike the editorial, Donaldson gives a comprehensive view of the failure of the intent of the 2007 school district consolidation law. The BDN editorial narrowly views only monetary issues of school district consolidation.

The impetus for consolidation came from a 2006 Brookings Institution Report that focused on Maine per-pupil expenditures in comparison to other states. Although Maine does have high per-pupil expenditures in contrast to the rest of the country, this is not a fair measure. Along with scarcity and many other indicators, Maine does not look like much of the United States. The consolidation law is trying to put a square peg in a circular hole.

Usually slippery slope arguments seem contrived. Yet rural education literature abounds in evidence that the closure of rural schools is the end result of district consolidation. By searching for “school consolidation” at the Web site Rural School and Community Trust, one can find examples of how school district consolidation has failed in other states.

It is questionable if savings will be transferred to the classroom. The historian Gordon Wood has written, “History does not teach lots of little lessons. Insofar as it teaches any lessons, it teaches only one big one; that nothing ever works out quite the way its managers intended or expected.”

Ryan Boyd

Gouldsboro

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Ex-Little Leaguer

Apparently, according to Sarah Smiley’s column, Florida Little League Moms are a bit “clueless” about playing baseball and maybe about other sports.

It takes about three hours to digest a full stomach, and it is, consequently, not a good idea to play sports on a full stomach before the game starts or while the game is in progress. It is better to have an almost empty or empty stomach at the start of the game.

Players also should not fill up on water or other liquids during a game. Drinking fluids during a game is likely to make a player more thirsty for water. This advice is from a former Little Leaguer.

Richard Mackin

Millinocket

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Medicare for all

The best health plan for the U.S. would be to pull the entire nation into Medicare. Then require “Medi-gap” insurance.

The insurance companies should then be appeased, because while they no longer can sell their old policies, they have millions of new people to buy insurance. Costs for Medi-gap insurance would be much lower because young healthy people are part of the pool. Everyone wins.

The new Medicare will pay 100 percent of preventive medicine, and Medi-gap will pay most of catastrophic care. Medical costs will go down because people are getting preventive care.

Claims that we can’t keep our doctors is nonsense. I have my doctor of choice, and I am on Medicare.

To pay for this, remove the top limit on the salaries that pay into Social Security and Medicare. Require that those who make more than $250,000 a year to add their benefits to their declared income. Require businesses to give employees health insurance or pay into a pool. (Remember, policies should be costing less than now because they are Medi-gap and covering healthy as well as unhealthy — not to mention that our health care costs will start down as people begin to get 100 percent of preventive care.)

And put a tax on bottled beverages — most of which cause health problems.

Susan Schnur

Islesboro

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Keep public option

The BDN’s June 13-14 editorial, “Keep Public Option,” is correct. Republicans show bias toward the insurance industry, when they claim a public plan would “undermine market-based competition.” That statement is mistaken at a minimum and disingenuous at worst. Insurance, including health insurance, does not operate in a “free market.” The law, McCarran-Ferguson Act, exempts insurance from federal anti-trust laws when they are regulated under state insurance laws.

Exemption from the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, virtually no federal regulation and a patchwork of state laws is the best of all possible worlds for the health insurance business. It means insurance companies can more easily influence states, especially small states, to create a more favorable market to their operations.

Nor have “public plans” hurt health insurance companies to date. In fact, Medicare is an excellent example of how insurance companies have prospered in a mixed private-public arrangement. Health insurance must be a profitable business, since private insurers have been buying up the non-profit Blue Cross-Blue Shield in many states.

If Republicans, or any others, who claim the solution to our health care problems includes “market-based competition,” their position would be more credible if they were advocating full coverage of insurance companies under our anti-trust laws and the competition these laws promote. Until then, the cry for a free market solution to the health care problem is phony.

Ross Ferrell

Bangor

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