Feb. 9 Letters to the Editor

Posted Feb. 08, 2010, at 6:49 p.m.

Safety first

We are writing to applaud the Bangor Daily News’ three-part series on snowmobiling in Maine — in particular the section on snowmobile safety that ran with this series.

Brookfield Renewable Power, the owner and operator of 19 hydroelectric generating stations on four river systems in New England, wants to stress and re-emphasize the importance of these snowmobiling safety messages, in particular the dangers of traveling on ice-covered waterways such as rivers and dam reservoirs.

Everyone enjoying recreational activities on or near rivers and reservoirs should note that conditions around dams and hydropower facilities can change quickly and without notice. Snowmobilers using transmission line rights-of-way must also exercise caution, as guy wires and poles may not be noticeable during winter conditions. Always be aware of your surroundings and observe all signs, warning signals and barriers.

Thanks to the BDN article, we are all reminded to enjoy the extraordinary snowmobiling opportunities that Maine has to offer — but to do so safely.

Brian Stetson

general manager, New England Operations

Millinocket

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Civil marriage

Lawyers David Casavant and J. Douglas Wellington advocate reducing civil marriage to a mere union of domestic partners (“Government and marriage: time for a separation,” BDN OpEd, Jan. 30-31). Their argument asserts this will create equality for both heterosexual and homosexual couples. What these men propose negates a few facts.

Civil marriage between two heterosexuals is an established historical right. Eliminating this right in an attempt to create some sort of equality for heterosexual and homosexual couples is wrong. One does not advocate watering down the rights of one group in order to justify not extending such a right to all.

Also, certain federal benefits apply only to qualifying “spouses.” An example is the right to collect Social Security from a deceased spouse’s account and the right to file a joint tax return. As lawyers, the authors know there is a lot of legal meaning in a word, such as “spouse.” A spouse and a domestic partner might be the same thing to the state, but will the federal government agree?

Finally, requiring those seeking marriage to enter this state via a religious ceremony smells like government interfering in religion. Should people be forced to affiliate with religious communities in order to be married?

The gay community wants the right to marry. If they were satisfied with domestic partnerships, they wouldn’t be fighting for marriage. Why deny heterosexuals the right to marry just to spite others?

Marie Sims

Presque Isle

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What recovery?

In his recent State of The Union address, President Barack Obama trumpeted the 2009 fourth-quarter increase in U.S. economic growth of 5.7 percent as proof that the economic stimulus has worked and the economy has rebounded.

Not so fast. New York University economics professor Nouriel Roubini has characterized this increase as “very dismal and poor” and asserts that this gain is only temporary and is primarily attributable to replenishing of inventories and that growth will likely slow to 1.5 percent in the second half of 2010.

In order to believe that the economy has indeed recovered, one must ignore contradictory anecdotal evidence all around us of a stagnant economy with few classified “help-wanted” ads, a multitude of discouraged and unsuccessful job applicants, widespread layoffs, and many small businesses which are understandably reluctant to hire due to economic and cost uncertainties — such as possible future “cap-and-trade” related tax increases — are directly related to the president’s agenda.

Our economy lost 4 million jobs in 2009 with no clear indication of a turnaround. Thus, it is incumbent upon the president to aggressively question the notion that the recession is over.

Since he possesses no demonstrable expertise in the fields of economics, banking and finance, President Obama needs to spend less time lecturing America and more time listening to qualified experts on both sides of the aisle with ideas that can bring the economy back. If not, we may lose another year and the downward momentum may become inexorable and unstoppable.

David D. Wilson

Levant

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Post your number

Last year, I worked for the U.S. Census helping update addresses in rural and urban areas. I hope to work for it again this year.

Do you know how many homes don’t have a clear or any house number attached? Not just people trying to be private — I spoke with many and heard: “Oh, it fell off in a storm in the ’90s” or “I probably should repaint the numbers on the mailbox.”

Fire, ambulance and law enforcement need to be able to find you to help. Seconds can make a difference. “Everyone in town knows me” is a poor excuse. What if your town’s firefighters are on mutual aid elsewhere, and fighters from an adjoining town are looking for your house?

Many towns have ordinances concerning house numbers for this reason. Help our first responders, post your number in at least one location, preferably two, nice and large and legible.

Paul Sheridan

Northport

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Commit to children

Petula Dvorak’s recent BDN OpEd piece is interesting “Costs of working on rise for parents of young children” Feb. 2), but I believe her opinions are misguided.

I don’t think “quitting a job to stay home with children is a shortsighted solution.” Staying home to raise your children is a longsighted solution for those who can afford to do so. When you make the decision to have children, it includes committing to provide their daily care. Going off to work while dropping your offspring at a day care center is not the best way to meet that obligation.

Dvorak quotes an economist as saying that taking time off to care for children imposes a “lifetime pay penalty” for some parents. On the contrary, not taking time off to provide care for your children imposes a lifetime penalty on them. Dvorak quotes Julia Christian on women needing a sense of self, professional accomplishment, seniority and pride. I argue that providing a loving and nurturing environment for children provides those things in abundance.

Many of the things we are distressed about in today’s American society could be greatly alleviated if parents spent more time with their children, doing things together and sharing life experiences. That togetherness can never be duplicated by a day care center, and once the formative childhood years are gone, they’re gone, and the opportunity to have a real and positive impact on your child’s personality during his or her formative years is also gone.

Penelope L. Kneeland

Burlington

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