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Dec. 15 Letters to the Editor

Private prisons

Gov.-elect Paul LePage has proposed building a prison in Milo to stimulate the economy (BDN, Dec. 9). While potentially good for the local economy, he fails to consider what is best for the inmates and the safety of the community. Private prisons derive their profits from cutting corners on staff screening and training, educational programs, health care and food. Staff abuse of inmates is much more frequent in private prisons than in state-operated ones. Stockholders benefit from the exploitation of inmates in private facilities, while inmates become more hardened and violent living in these substandard conditions. In addition, several private prisons have been in the news for escapes made by dangerous felons due to lax security practices.

Prisons exist as punishment, but it is not their role to administer ongoing punishment. Ideally, inmates should be better citizens upon release from prison than when they began their sentences.

This entails offering them educational, mental health, literacy and substance abuse programs at a minimum. Rather than pour money into a new and unneeded correctional facility, the state would be better off investing more money in the Maine State Prison so that it can hire more staff and operate at full capacity. In addition, more funding could increase the existing rehabilitative programs at the prison.

Diane H. Schetky



Diminishing our voice

I wish to draw attention to the fact that the recently elected leadership in Augusta wants to eliminate the Labor Committee. Is it wise to eliminate a committee that has existed since 1887? The Labor Committee is designed to give workers, management and anyone in between an equal voice and opportunity to be heard and influence legislation.

The Labor Committee oversees policies including employee health and safety, wage and hour laws, working conditions, unemployment benefits and workers’ compensation. Breaking this committee into two others seems to add “red tape,” not eliminate it. This would send a message that the average worker doesn’t have a place at the State House but business owners do.

The Republican leaders say they will fix the economy, and the first thing they want to do is erode workers rights? Sounds like they want to add to their pockets, not create more jobs.

I am a Republican, a firefighter and paramedic, a union member and leader. I have worked many jobs from manual labor, professional, technical and even in management as a fire chief in a small community. I have firsthand knowledge of the safety, health, wage and benefits issues facing many of us today.

Diminishing our voice in Augusta is not an action for the common man as the new leadership wants us to believe. If you also think this is a bad idea, then I urge you to contact your representatives, Republican or Democrat, and tell them this is bad policy.

Kevin Peary



Tax cuts for lawmakers

It must be nice for our federal elected leaders in the House and Senate to vote themselves a continuation of tax cuts for the rich when over 40 percent or so of those individuals themselves are worth millions. Sounds like a conflict of interest to me. Don’t any of us wish we could vote a raise for ourselves. This simply makes no sense in that the Republicans are always talking about lowering the deficit and physical responsibility, and now they want to contribute to the public debit over the next two years to the tune of $140 billion.

As I understand it over 50 percent of the wealth in this country is in the hands of the top 2 to 3 percent of the wealthiest individuals and the average middle and lower class workers are the ones who make the money for them. Without these middle and lower class workers the wealthy would have nothing. It is time for the wealthy to share the burdens of supporting this country. As it is most of the wealthy have so many loopholes in the tax system that they pay little or no taxes anyway, so why should they be worried what their tax rate is? Another 3 percent to them is just the ability to afford another luxury vehicle or vacation home. Tax extension for the rich is just simply unacceptable.

Michael Healy



Pearl Harbor revisions

I must take issue with the theme in the editorial, “Pearl Harbor Remembered” (BDN, Dec. 7). While we had been isolationist into the early 1930s, we were not in 1941.

This is attested to by our violation of neutrality through lend-lease to England, as well as shadowing German U Boats and reporting their positions to the British.

After watching Japan invade Manchuria in 1931 and China in 1937, we were negotiating with the Japanese not to invade Indochina. In fact, Japanese emissaries had been dispatched to Washington to negotiate for two weeks, obviously to give their task force time to get into an attack position in Hawaii. These emissaries were negotiating with Secretary of State Cordell Hull at the moment of the attack on Pearl Harbor. This odious attack was tantamount to assaulting your adversary under a flag of truce and is unparalleled in modern times.

We were not prepared for war because we didn’t want to go to war.

Those of us who endured the milieu of those times resent the parroting of the revisionists who inject their bias into what they call history.

Doug Hundley



Incomplete story

I read the account of the Eastport Historic Homes Holiday tour in the Dec. 6 paper and wondered if I had gone on the wrong tour. The entire article was about just one home. What about the other seven places? They were just as historic and the owners worked just as hard to make it a great experience for tour-goers. If I were any of those other people I would never have my home on that or any tour again. Imagine how they must feel to be ignored like that. Doesn’t anyone at your paper read these articles before publication and try for a little balance? By the way, the rest of the places were lovely, too.

Linda L. Gralenski



Immoral tax cuts

How can the GOP justify extending tax cuts for America’s millionaires and billionaires? They are lying when they say the rich will use the money to create jobs and thus help the economy. During the Bush years they never used their tax cut money for such purposes so why would they now? As a matter of fact, studies showed that they “saved” that money the government handed them.

How can Congress vote against one extra check to help out Social Security recipients, but vote to give a millionaire a $100,000 tax break? A tax cut for America’s wealthiest is an abomination and immoral. I would like Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to fully explain themselves to their constituents, who, for the most part, can’t even fathom having an extra $100,000 to spend (or save).

Sylvia L. Tapley



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