April 22, 2011: ‘Free services,’ democracy, cry for peace

Posted April 21, 2011, at 9:15 p.m.

It’s not free

“Free healthcare, cut-rate child care, free higher education, generous government-funded pensions, heavily subsidized public transportation …” words bandied about more and more in these days of change. Free? Really? Doctors working for no pay? Nurses? Professors? High tech instrumentation given to hospitals? Teaching materials provided to universities? No utility payments to make? Of course not.

So where does the money come from? The government, you say? Well, the government doesn’t have any money of its own. It gets it, forceably, from the taxpayers.

So it’s not free, only hidden, an example of wealth redistribution. As more people get hooked on “free services,” more will be demanded. It’s hard to vote against what we consider our own self-interest.

So while much of the rest of the world is backtracking, we continue to forge ahead. That’s why we’re $14 trillion in debt. Our children and grandchildren won’t think it’s free.

Dan Richardson

China, ME

• • •

Speak up for democracy

Gov. Paul LePage seems to have misunderstood or has never had a lesson in American government.

Our Founding Fathers established our divided system of government in response to the tyranny of King George over the citizens of the American Colonies. In their wisdom, they vowed never again to submit to any tyrant or dictator. They created a government divided into three equal branches: the executive, the Congress and the judiciary.

Each exerts checks and balances on the other to stem any tyrannical actions by the other. The executive/governor proposes legislation and cannot enact any law on his own. The Congress/Legislature proposes and enacts legislation. The judiciary may rule enacted legislation as unconstitutional.

It appears that Gov. LePage sees his powers to be akin to that of King George, dictating to the Maine Legislature what, when and how to enact his legislation or suffer the consequences.

The Republican controlled Legislature is relinquishing its role as a check on a governor bent on ruling the state as his personal kingdom. LePage has sent his message. This is not how a democracy works.

The 61 percent of Maine voters should beware of the path the governor has taken. Contact your legislators and speak up for democracy.

Robert Michaud

Jay

• • •

Where is cry for peace?

Why have the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan been ignored since President Barack Obama took office? The casualty flags on the lawn in Orono are gone, the reports on CBS are gone and no one seems to care about the recent string of deaths of our military and civilians in both countries.

Please tell me the concern back when George W. Bush was in office was not based on Bush in office but was instead a concern of wasteful lives lost in a wasteful war. Where is the cry out for peace now?

Ray Bryant

Benedicta

• • •

Maine taxes

There is a serious error in the article “Governors cut taxes, medical aid to the poor” (BDN, April 14). It says “Maine also has some of the highest taxes in the country. Families with incomes as low as $39,550 a year are subject to an 8.5 percent state income tax.” In fact, the tax is not nearly that high.

Suppose that a married couple, not retired and without children, are filing jointly. If their federal adjusted gross income is $39,550, then their Maine adjusted gross income is probably the same amount. If they subtract their Maine standard deduction of $9,550 and their two personal exemptions of $2,850 each, they wind up with Maine taxable income of $24,300. The Maine income tax on this amount is $962, or 3.96 percent of taxable income. (If instead the couple had exemptions for children, or if they were elderly and receiving a pension of Social Security, their income tax would be reduced.)

If the same original married couple had the higher Maine taxable income of $39,550, they would pay income tax of $2,026 or 5.1 percent. Only if they reached the lofty taxable income of $268,000 would they owe more than 8 percent.

It pays to be skeptical when you hear complaints about high Maine taxes.

Karl K. Norton

Bangor

• • •

Union employees in elected positions

The beginning of Union’s 2011 budget committee meeting revealed that the chairman nominee is a town employee and by ordinance ineligible. Most towns prohibit employees from serving, and in that respect, Union’s budget committee ordinance is similar to the nearby town of Hope. After discussion, the nominee was elected anyway since “that’s the way it’s been done and the ordinance must be wrong.” An independent budget review was then completed without discussing this issue further.

Union is lucky to have people willing to serve in multiple capacities. One selectman works for Union’s ambulance service and another selectman serves on the Land Use Ordinance Review Committee. The fire chief, CEO, emergency management director and plumbing inspector are the same person, and the budget committee chair is the town’s ambulance service director.

There are no current problems with this, but someday there may be. Cozy relationships could develop between individuals serving in multiple areas of influence. Misuse of position or the perception of collusion could result. State Rep. David Cotta has introduced LD 1297 that would “prohibit an elected municipal officer from simultaneously working as a town employee” because of problems he sees.

Union’s great group of selectmen is working hard to improve communications and control taxes. They will revise the ordinance to reflect current practice and present it for public approval. It is not yet clear if voters will approve it.

John Field

Union

• • •

Heart-warming story

I’d like to say thank you to Renee Ordway for her column in the weekend paper titled “My sister, ill with cancer, celebrates life.” it was the most heartwarming story I’ve read in a long, long time.

I laughed and cried while reading about this oh so special open house.

Gaylee Tilley

Mapleton

• • •

Why F. Lee Bailey?

I was startled to see that Husson University had invited F. Lee Bailey to give a talk as part of its Dean’s Distinguished Lecture series. Distinguished is not an adjective that I would use to describe Mr. Bailey.

In 2001, Mr. Bailey was disbarred in Florida due to seven counts of attorney misconduct. The Supreme Court report called him a “liar,” and his conduct was described as “egregious.” In 2003, Mr. Bailey was reciprocally disbarred in Massachusetts.

How the university can sanction the behavior of such a disreputable individual, I do not understand. Whoever invited Mr. Bailey to speak should be embarrassed.

Michelle Small

Brunswick

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