Small business view
As progress toward health care reform flounders, I am compelled to remind people what a serious need this is in Maine. I have been an independent business owner for 13 years and am also married to an independent business owner. We have three children.
We spend more than $900 a month on medical insurance with a $15,000 deductible. This means the insurance companies never actually have covered anything for us. People who think health care is adequate aren’t paying for it themselves and have no idea of how unaffordable it has become.
Anthem’s announcement of a 23 percent rate hike in these economic times is criminal. We allowed them to have a complete monopoly in our state and if they can’t turn a profit under those circumstances, then they are bad businesspeople.
Our elected representatives tell us small businesses are the backbone of Maine’s economy, but even as we struggle to keep our heads above water we are expected to bail large corporations out of every crisis. Two rules: Live within your means, and nobody is guaranteed a profit, you earn it. Insurance companies need a reality check.
Most uninsured people in Maine actually work hard but can’t afford it.
What do we offer them? Nothing. But should the choice be all or nothing?
Should we be forced to choose between college tuition and health care premiums? House payment or health care?
A basic “public option” to take care of everybody is the right route to take. We are paying for it anyway.
Terror trial wrong
Whatever our political persuasion, we all can recognize when decisions are made on the basis of ideology, and in haste. The Obama administration has a pattern of such flawed decision-making, and the issue of where to hold terrorism trials is but the latest example.
The president is a gifted speaker, but I do not think the content matches the delivery. He serves not the best interests of the country, but his own ideology. A national policy based on reacting to the perceived mistakes of the Bush administration is no policy at all.
The terrorism trials ought to be conducted at the Guantanamo military base and under the rules of the military justice system. Saddling New York with the risks and costs of a trial, or burdening the taxpayer by buying an entire state prison to house detainees, are examples of decisions that are poorly thought out, and ideologically motivated.
The president is long on style and short on substance, and we are not well served by this sort of governance.
State quick to spend
The BDN’s recent article, “New warden service facility draws criticism,” shows that the state needs to go further to reduce spending. Granted, wardens do need a place to stay in remote locations, but it seems there could have been a less costly solution.
Some state agencies are spending large sums of money on projects while other agencies are forced to make drastic cuts. One example is the Department of Conservation. In the summer of 2009 the department spent just over $138,000 on a project in the Seboomook Unit. The purpose of this project was to remove state-owned land from the North Maine Woods system.
This was a complicated task due to several roads leading into the area.
First, 20 Mile Checkpoint (which was located on private property) had to be moved north; total price tag, $38,977. Second, two electronic, remote controlled gates via satellite Internet were constructed; combined costs for both gates, $99,635. I received this information from the department via a Freedom of Access request.
Chances are this was not directly funded by taxpayer dollars, but it is still wasteful spending. I wrote letters to both Governor Baldacci and Commissioner Patrick McGowan with my concerns on this project in March 2009.
Mr. McGowan replied to my letter with acknowledgement that Baldacci had received my letter as well. Neither of them had any concerns over the price tag of this project.
Wasteful spending needs to stop at all levels of government.
Poetry out loud
After the recent flap about inappropriate dancing at Bangor High School, I would like to report on a completely different experience with the students at BHS. I just returned from observing the final round of competition for this year’s Poetry Out Loud contest.
I was amazed and delighted to see the auditorium filled with high school students, cheering enthusiastically for the finalists as each recited his or her poem. The 10 finalists were chosen from a field of 72 students all of whom had selected, memorized and recited their poems with an impressive degree of understanding. The hundreds of students in the audience listened with such rapt attention to their classmates that one could have heard a pin drop as the poems were recited.
It is encouraging and exciting to see high school kids get so excited about poetry. The sophistication and maturity demonstrated by Bangor students deserves at least as much attention as what happens at the dances.
Wardens deserve camp
This letter is regarding the BDN’s recent article about the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife building a camp at Baker Lake. Over the past few years I have heard quite a few horror stories about the conditions of the camps that wardens and forest service staff have to use. The services have to use some money to build or update them. That’s OK by me.
Let’s keep one thing in mind. These folks are among our first responders who get a hiker with a broken ankle out of Gulf Hagas; get called out at 3 a.m. on a cold, snowy night to look for a lost snowmobiler and go out on a stormy lake to look for an overdue canoeist.
If these services need more money to operate, raise license fees. If anyone really wants to go hunting, fishing or whatever, they will find the few extra dollars to pay for it.