Sheep and wolves
Thanks for publishing Joseph Ellis’ piece “America’s angst: ‘Them’ versus ‘us’” (BDN, Aug. 14). Ellis’ explanation of how our history has created enduring conflict between individual rights and the need for government should be read by everyone.
Thomas Jefferson feared oppressive governments such as those of 18th century England and France and insisted in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights that individual rights balance the power of the president and Congress.
Alexander Hamilton feared the power of the people and famously said: “The people? The people is a great beast!”
Our democracy has thus far survived the tug-of-war between individual freedoms and government restraints. But at present a dangerous beast, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, threatens to gobble up our republic, our people, and our planet.
That beast is the corporation. In 1886, the Supreme Court decided that a private corporation is a person entitled to the legal freedoms and privileges afforded people. This ruling permitted the rise of corporate rule and corporate defiance of the public good.
Corporations mostly see health care reform, environmental regulation, and taxes as “un-American” interference in their “inalienable” right to make and keep big profits.
Too many of us now act like sheep. Witness the health care “hecklers.”
But let’s face it: big insurance and big oil are the beasts whose wolfish appetites will gobble up the rights and the habitat of everybody else unless they are restrained by law.
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In his recent opinion column (“The inconvenient truth about preventive care” BDN, Aug. 14), Charles Krauthammer expresses opposition to a public health care option. However, the facts he uses instead appear to support the very plan he opposes.
First, he states that a public option will cost approximately $1 trillion to $1.6 trillion over 10 years. Given a U.S. population of 300 million, this equals $333-$533 per person per year. Such a cost is so much lower than private insurance premiums that I would be happy to see such a proposal adopted, based purely on Mr. Krauthammer’s own numbers.
Second, he states that preventive medicine is more expensive than just treating those who are sick. But the fact he uses to explain this conclusion, that more of the population is healthy than sick, strongly supports a public option. The spreading of health care costs over a mostly healthy population allows us to cover expensive care for those few who need it.
I don’t know the best solution to the current health care crisis. But based on the facts presented in Mr. Krauthammer’s article, a public option appears to have significant merit.
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Old words, new war
It’s déjà vu all over again. Those of us old enough to remember the Vietnam War years can easily substitute a few names in the BDN’s Aug. 14 front page article, “Pentagon officials measuring Afghan war in years,” to warn that we may be making the same mistake all over again.
Let’s amend what The Associated Press wrote: “The Pentagon presented a grim portrait of the Afghanistan [read Vietnam] war Thursday, offering no assurances about how long Americans will be fighting there or how many U.S. combat troops it will take to win.
“Defeating the Taliban and al Qaida [read Viet Cong] will take ‘a few years’ Defense Secretary Robert Gates [read McNamara] said, with success on a larger scale in the desperately poor country a much longer proposition. He acknowledged that the Taliban [read Viet Cong] has a firm hold on parts of the country President Obama [read Johnson] has called vital to U.S. security.”
It would be helpful for the administration to explain to the American people why this time we should expect an outcome different than that of 40 years ago.
Sidney R. Block
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E-mail, don’t shout
Recent town hall meetings have been little more than televised arenas for people who want to yell, hardly a forum for reasonable discussion.
Indeed, some people have been coached on methods of throwing representatives off-topic.
If you were a member of Congress watching coverage of other meetings, would you submit to such treatment? Anyone can communicate with his representative or senators by mail, e-mail or telephone. Only you can’t yell and it won’t get you on TV holding a sign. But it will actually provide better input, as they do count the pro and con on any topic.
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Distance from wind
Thank you for the Aug. 14 editorial “Wind Power Limits,” which caught the essence of the wind power issue. The advice to the industry is right on.
Maine regulators appear incapable of providing protection for people living near wind power projects and that leaves it up to the industry to develop better standards.
The Mars Hill project already is a rallying cry for those opposed to the noise and shadow flicker from wind turbines. It is clear that turbines were installed too close to homes in Mars Hill and the result is 17 lawsuits about noise and shadow flicker.
The same company that developed the Mars Hill project now has a permit pending before DEP for a 34-turbine project in Oakfield. In the Oakfield project, turbines will be placed closer to homes than the DEP noise limits allow. This is being done with a legal instrument called a noise easement.
The developer is allowed to exceed DEP noise limits on properties if the owner has agreed to an easement.
There is one bright spot in this mad rush to install wind turbines in rural Maine. Former Gov. Angus King evidently understands the issue and has taken the responsible approach. His project at Roxbury has only four dwellings that are closer than a mile to turbines.
In contrast, on the northern half of the proposed Oakfield development, there will be 33 homes within 4,000 feet of turbines. Dr Nina Pierpont, a well-known researcher of wind turbines and health issues, recommends a minimum of 1.5 miles separation between turbines and homes.
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