Friday, June 24, 2011: Fuel efficiency, cigarette labeling and gun control

Posted June 23, 2011, at 9:34 p.m.

Coupons and courage

The BDN’s June 10 article, “Extreme couponers: ‘You save money but you work hard for that money,’” underscores the lengths some people go to save money in tough economic times, when being efficient and reducing costs wherever possible can be a lifeline.

Imagine the money they’d save at the gas pump if their cars got 60 miles per gallon — or even more! Maybe they could stop clipping coupons and take a summer road trip. Such fuel-efficient vehicles could be widely available if President Obama exercises some political courage and issues new standards to require that cars average 60 mpg.

A recent Environment Maine analysis found that the average Maine family would save $490 this summer if our cars met a 60-mpg standard. Maine would also cut its oil use by 86 million gallons, reducing pollution.

The technology is available, so strong fuel efficiency standards would be a win-win — for our paychecks and for the environment.

Asa Hyde

Environment Maine

Portland

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Label crazy

Disclaimer: I am not a smoker, and don’t intend on ever being one.

On Tuesday, June 21, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced nine new disturbingly graphic labels for cigarette packs. While everyone can agree that the rationale behind Secretary Sebelius’s new labels is admirable (helping people quit smoking and prevent youngsters from ever starting), where does this stop?

Smokers are already viewed as pariahs and are prohibited from smoking in various areas.  Restaurants can no longer choose how to run their own businesses in Maine. If a smoker makes a choice to light up and a private establishment chooses to allow smoking and makes this public knowledge, how does it hurt me, the nonsmoker? If I don’t want smoke blown in my face, I won’t go to a restaurant that allows smoking.

What’s next; immobile, morbidly obese people on Big Mac containers? Perhaps the Office of H&HS should place labels of toothless children with diabetes on Mountain Dew and Skittles.

Why don’t we place labels depicting totaled cars placed on all alcohol containers, as drunk driving accounted for 32 percent of all automobile accidents in 2010 and those affected by drunk drivers get hit completely out of the blue? Politicians in D.C. sipping on bourbon at lunch probably wouldn’t approve.

Oh, and by the way, isn’t President Obama, who “…is committed to protecting our nation’s children and the American people from the dangers of tobacco use” a lifelong smoker?

John M. Williams

Clifton

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Gun control is answer

In his June 21 BDN letter to the editor, Lawrence Merrill says that the solution to Amy Lake’s problem was to get a gun. Does Mr. Merrill understand that Steven Lake also believed that a gun was the solution to his problem?

The NRA folks like that bumper sticker that says, “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” When guns are unregulated any angry, paranoid, delusional fool can get a gun. Everyone who ever intentionally killed an innocent person with a gun was by definition a gun owner.

How is it that Mr. Lake had the gun that he used on his family? Assuming that law enforcement confiscated any weapons he owned after the hostage incident, someone in his community sold or gave him that gun ether out of ignorance (no background check) or because he believed that in spite of everything, Mr. Lake still had the right to bear arms.

Norman Mrozicki

Surry

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What Davy Crockett said

David Crockett was born August 17, 1786 at Limestone (Greene County), Tennessee. He died March 6, 1836 as one of the brave Southerners defending the Alamo. He was a member of Congress 1827-31 and 1832-35.

When I read an account of his service in Congress it was a moment for pause as we watch the latest TARP bill or special interest group receive taxpayer money.

Davy Crocket was in the House of Representatives one day when a bill to appropriate money to a widow of a distinguished officer came up for a vote. Davy rose to object not to the worthiness of the dead but to the act of the injustice to the living. He said: “We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money.”

Davy Crocket’s “not yours to give” speech should be seen by all who have the tendency to forget that the taxpayer has an obligation to pay into the government on penalty of imprisonment or confiscation of all wealth. And likewise the obligation of the members of government is to protect that money and not give it away unless it is their own money.

If only that were the test of one’s ability to govern, which is the charity of giving of oneself. How much better off would we be today?

Beverly Cowan

Rockland

•••

Summer school

The three young boys who allegedly ransacked a residence in Pittsfield and stole valuable collections should be taught a lesson: Throw them in the house of detention for their summer vacation. They are old enough to know better, yet young enough to get away with it.

Paula Spacco

Hampden

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Prudent act?

The June 21 BDN reprints the story from the AP (reporters Glenn Sharp and David Adams) concerning Gov. LePage’s “decision to remove a mural by artist Judy Taylor … depicting important times in Maine’s labor history on display at the Maine Department of Labor offices in Augusta since 2008.”  Gov. LePage ordered the mural removed soon after becoming governor.

Gov. LePage, acting independently, ordered the physical removal of the mural to a place unknown, under conditions unknown and with no consideration of its intrinsic value in the event of its future loss or damage. The BDN column of June 21 does not report the value, but, mentioned on other media, a cost of at least $60,000 was incurred at the time of installation in the State House in 2008.

Although I believe the condition of the mural is currently unknown, it appears Gov. LePage — unless he entered into a contract of carriage providing for at least the $60,000 which appears to be the provable intrinsic value of the mural, incurred a liability unknown and without consideration of the consequences.

Is this the act of a prudent governor of Maine?

Robert C. Dick

Castine

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