May 6 Letters to the Editor

Posted May 05, 2010, at 5:55 p.m.

Bigger potatoes

As I watched the twists and turns of the Goldman Sachs hearings last week I was reminded of the great potato futures debacle of the early 1970s. This was when a few commodity traders in the potato futures market sold “short” and caused the real potato market to collapse. As the real price of the commodity tanked, the traders made fortunes. These traders were some of Aroostook’s leading citizens and the losers were hundreds of small Maine farmers.

The situation laid bare before Congress last week is similar, just on a much larger scale. It seems we haven’t learned much in 40 years, except that greed still rules.

Michael E. Carpenter

Houlton

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Majoring in topless

I read that the young woman leading that topless protest is graduating this year. With a degree in what? Silliness with a minor in Amateur (very amateur) Dramatics?

Don’t these women realize that they’ve managed to set back the cause of women’s dignity and professionalism at least 50 years? Who can possibly take them seriously? Are they going to apply for a job topless?

Wake up, girls! This is not how to garner respect in this world. All it proves is that everyone has an equal right to make fools of themselves.

Susan Clement

Hampden

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Comedy of errors

Bill Maher, in a discussion of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on ABC News on Sunday, May 2, said we should follow the example of Brazil and free ourselves from oil wells and produce our energy from biomass. Brazil has less than one-half the population of the U.S. and the per-person consumption of liquid fuel is about one tenth the U.S. rate.

Sugar cane can be converted to ethanol using one-eighth the energy required to produce ethanol from corn. (Ethanol from corn is barely an energy break-even operation.) Even with Brazil’s great government subsidy for ethanol, they burn more gasoline than they do ethanol.

If we abandon the use of Maine’s forest for making paper and other wood products and converted the entire forest growth to energy, we could not come close to meeting our current energy needs. We could extract the hemicelluloses from wood biomass, convert the hemicelluloses into sugar, and through sugar fermentation and distillation generate ethanol/butanol for our cars. Then, use the remaining biomass to heat our homes and generate our electricity. With the most optimistic thermo-chemistry we can’t even come close; won’t work, can’t make it.

The current effort at the University of Maine’s chemical engineering department to produce energy as a byproduct of paper manufacture is valued-added for the paper industry — but it has nothing to do with solving our energy problem.

Maher may be a great comedian, but he should take a course in physical chemistry before he spouts energy policy.

Richard C. Hill

Old Town

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Rowe is clear choice

I have found myself feeling overwhelmed by the number of candidates running for governor. To make my decision I had to consider four important points: Catelyn, Jonathan, Matthew and Colin — my grandchildren. These amazing kids are the future of Maine and unless things change they will not follow the footsteps of their ancestors who have a long history of working and living in Maine.

Our next governor has to have a plan that ensures that we have a trained work force that will attract business and keep young people in Maine. My vote in the June 8 primary will go to former Attorney General Steve Rowe.

Steve Rowe is not only looking at today but planning strategically for the next 10 years. Steve knows there is no silver bullet that will fix our statewide economic problem, but that job creation is a critical issue. He believes if we are to attract business we need a trained educated workforce, improved transportation, lower fuel and electrical costs, increased availability of high speed internet and affordable cost for health care.

This is no small task but I believe Steve Rowe has the leadership, knowledge and passion to put Maine back on the map. I am voting for the person who I think will be the best person for the four most important people in my life, my grandchildren who deserve nothing but the best.

Pat Kimball

Hermon

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