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Wednesday, July 27, 2011: Statistics, debt and prayer

Numbers, please

There are lies, there are damn lies and there are statistics.

In the July 19 BDN, state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin declared that Social Security is bankrupting this country. No statistics yet (maybe he’s still fine-tuning them).

Earl Flaherty


Flawed thinking on recession

What Lynn H. Parsons proposes (“America’s social contract in tatters,” BDN OpEd, July 22) is to turn on its head the argument he ascribes to those Republican reprobates. His argument is that American governments failed to end the Great Depression and Great Recession because they failed to spend enough.

Of course, there is no limit to that argument: failure to accomplish the goal means insufficient funds no matter the amount spent. One flaw in that approach is that about $1 trillion was allotted to ending the recession with little, if any, beneficial result.

One factor liberal commentators fail to take into account when they describe the halcyon days after World War II is that the United States was the only major industrial power that had much of its industry left. Estimates are that in 1945 we had two-thirds of all the world’s industry. Today it is a great deal less.

True, we have yet to equal the U.S. debt of 118 percent at the end of 1945, but it should not be too long when we exceed that dismal figure. We don’t even have the excuse of an existential threat.

Everyone decries the amounts of money CEOs of large corporations get. If we were to confiscate it all, it would be but a raindrop in our ocean of government debt. If one is serious about our social compact, we had best figure out how to make it part of an affordable budget. Reducing our defenses to insufficiency is not that way.

Hans Schmidt


Enough mismanagement

Let’s review some basic arithmetic and the national debt: When Reagan became president the debt was at $900 billion. When George H.W. Bush left, the debt was at about $4.1 trillion. Under Bill Clinton it went to $5.7 trillion and he left the next Bush a budget surplus.

George W. Bush increased the debt by $5 trillion and kept the money for Iraq and Afghanistan off the budget. Barack Obama inherited an economic mess and two wars.

Republicans now have become fiscal fanatics and demand a balance budget. Where were they during the 20 years in which they controlled the White House? And where do they get the idea that they can possibly know how to manage this country’s economy? Isn’t 20 years of mismanagement enough?

Karl Hill


A little prayer won’t hurt

Prayer and politics have been linked since the very beginning of American politics (“Prayer and Politics,” BDN editorial, July 23). It’s a simple undeniable fact. Governors in every state have made day-of-prayer proclamations.

Also, nobody in Maine cares what the governor of Texas does or proclaims. Isn’t it pretty obvious BDN just doesn’t care for Paul LePage and therefore no matter what he proclaims you are going to find a angle to sling mud at him?

Is there a requirement somewhere that a governor’s proclamation must include every religion, sect and creed? I think the proclamation was perfectly adequate and reached out to the majority of Maine and did not include verbiage that was blatantly exclusionary.

I think many people today in the left wing and their voice box, the media, would like to have this fact forgotten, but this is still one nation, under God. Most of God’s people pray. So as far as I am concerned, Gov. LePage got it right.

I am proud of the proclamation for a day of prayer here in Maine. If you want to politicize the event, fine. Let’s politicize it. Clearly the economic situation here in Maine which Paul LePage inherited is pretty grim. Since nothing that has been tried over the last 10-20 years has worked here in Maine, I think a little prayer won’t hurt anything.

Paul J. Miner


Flawed analogy

I don’t know where Joseph Lallande (“Food sovereignty and the Firearms Freedom Act,” BDN OpEd, July 23) got a copy of the food sovereignty ordinance that cites the U.S. Constitution as an “authority.” My copy cites the Declaration of Independence, the Maine Constitution and two titles of the Maine Revised Statutes.

It is true that the local farm ordinance appeals to people across the political spectrum, including “tenthers,” but it is not true that it is based on the U.S. Constitution.

The analogy to the Firearms Freedom Act is flawed because of this erroneous assumption, while Lallande’s discussion of the Wicker v. Filburn case is more germane. Criticism of Supreme Court commerce clause decisions is also found across the political spectrum, because they have given corporations much more power over our lives than the founders ever intended.

Many who support the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance are aware that the FDA and USDA have been captured by corporate interests. Big agriculture basically runs the government food safety programs, which exempt truly unsafe practices from oversight but require small, diversified family farms to meet licensing standards affordable primarily to factory farms or small but specialized production.

President Lincoln’s “government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” has given way to our current system of government of, by and for corporations. Those who brought us the food sovereignty ordinance, with their differing views, are taking a stand against corporate agriculture and for local food, not complaining about big government.

Bonnie Preston

Blue Hill

Explanation needed

The BDN should be challenged on Saturday’s headline, “LePage warns cuts in heating aid proposed,” followed by a story blaming the president for these proposed cuts. Your readers understand that when the governor makes such public pronouncements, you are obligated to report them.

But, given the current crisis in Washington, isn’t the BDN news staff also obligated to provide some context for the governor’s allegations? Is it the governor’s party or the president’s party that is demanding cuts in government spending and no new revenues? So now the fox is guarding the chicken coop and warning us of the impending raid?

We look to you, as professional journalists, for an explanation of what’s wrong with this picture.

Kathleen Caldwell


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