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June 20 Letters to the Editor

Where’s MPBN?

Since transitioning to DTV, I no longer receive PBS. A quick survey of friends and colleagues reveals many are in the same situation. I live in downtown Bangor and can only assume that hundreds, if not thousands in Bangor and around the state are facing the same situation.

When I contacted MPBN about this problem, I was instructed to either purchase cable or construct an external antenna in order to receive the signal. I should not be required to subscribe to a pay service merely to receive public programming, which is largely paid for by viewer donations and tax revenues. Nor should I have to embark on a major home improvement project to receive something that has been a reliable signal.

And if I were to follow these recommendations, where is the coupon for this transition expense? And what about those who cannot afford cable or an antenna?

The proponents of DTV can only talk about great picture. Who cares? Television, particularly PBS, is about more than just high definition entertainment. It is also about access to important cultural, current events, and news programming. Public access to news and information is the cornerstone of a strong democracy. I believe this conundrum will have a negative impact on public dialogue on important issues here in Maine.

A simple solution would be to allow public broadcasting to transmit in both digital and analog, as it has been for many years.

Sean Gambrel



Wars’ cost: 5,016 lives

The cost in lives to those serving in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and to their families, their communities, and the nation’s spirit and economy) has risen now to 5,016 of our military women and men, an increase little noticed, as Americans hope to see wars abroad simmering down. The rate of deaths to our military service people continues to fluctuate within about the same levels throughout the past year in Iraq and Afghanistan. The costs in physical and psychological disabilities in service people returning home in recent and coming years is far larger and more difficult to assess.

As in previous years, small white flags have been arranged at the Iraq-Afghanistan War Dead Memorial in the Wanning Field on Main Street in Blue Hill to acknowledge each life lost to these two wars. Each death is acknowledged by one flag. The costs of war continue to rise along with the grief and anxiety in those most affected at home. Peninsula Peace & Justice will be adding additional flags next time the field is mowed in an effort to recognize all whose lives have been sacrificed in war.

Our investment of American lives to uncertain outcomes and controversial policies continues to grow. The costs to civilians in these war zones meanwhile mount, perhaps beyond our abilities to measure. This year the public is encouraged to bring a seedling or plant to place among others in a central pathway of the field. Markers are available on site for dedicating one’s planting.

Steve Benson

Blue Hill


Letterman needs help

David Letterman’s recent on-air comments about Alaska governor Sarah Palin and her daughter were, to put it mildly, in poor taste.

It is often said that the mouthings of public figures reflect the general tone of the times they live in. I sincerely hope not, but if it is so, we have a lot of soul searching to do and some corrective action to take.

The fact that CBS has renewed Mr. Letterman’s contract is further evidence that we live in strange times. Things certainly have changed in the talk show business, have they not? Johnny Carson must be rolling over in his grave.

At the very least, Mr. Letterman owes a full public apology to Gov. Palin and her family. I might also recommend that he get some psychiatric help.

Henry Smith


Demand single-payer

I think it’s time we voters take matters into our own hands and vote politicians out of office who vote against universal health care, claiming it’s “socialism.” I need to remind everyone that these same people are all covered by a health care program, as are all military, federal, state, county, retirees and municipal employees, and we are paying for it.

Why exclude the rest of us? The insurance companies will lobby hard against it and fill their coffers with donated money. Follow the money trail and vote out the people who are against universal health care and receive money from the insurance companies.

Lewis Scribner



Buy tax-free Kit Kat

Why the recently approved tax change bill is called a “reform” is beyond my ability to comprehend.

On the income tax side, it is just great that the top rate is being reduced from 8.5 percent to 6.5 percent. It is unfortunate that the rate cut is coupled with the removal of all exemptions including, apparently, the basic deduction. The result is that if you have a mortgage, pay property tax, give to charities or have medical expenses, you will see the amount of taxes you pay increase!

On the sales tax side, every resident is going to pay and pay and pay.

If you have a car that needs to be kept running, pay! If you are older and are under doctor’s orders not to shovel snow or mow the lawn, pay!

But if you are from Boston or New York or elsewhere and have a boat that needs an overhaul, well guess what? You won’t pay! (So much for exporting our taxes to tourists.)

And at the grocery store, you can buy a Snickers bar and a Kit Kat bar and guess what? The Snickers will be taxed but the Kit Kat won’t. The reason? The Kit Kat contains flour so it is a health food! Makes a lot of sense. I’m switching to Kit Kat.

William Chapman



Health care reform?

The current debate over health care reform (unaffordable health care vs. affordable health care) would not be an issue if Washington had shown all along just a bit of consideration and compassion for their constituents.

When was the last time our elected officials were without health care insurance because of the cost? Until every American woman, man and child can afford a similar policy as they have for themselves and their families, how can they sleep?

Perhaps if we all beg, plead, crawl, demand that every American is insured as well as the families and staff on Capitol Hill, as well as the corporate executives and their lobbyists, then perhaps we will finally see some real change coming out of Washington.

If we make ourselves heard, if we speak loud and clear, the executive branch and Congress might just be forced to listen for a change and act according to the will of their constituents. Or we’ll vote them out of office at the first opportunity.

We can cause needed change. Yes we can.

Les Simon


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