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Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012: Mom’s political wisdom, preventing smoking

Older generation’s view

One of the special times I share with my mother is when we talk politics. At 87, her mind is sharper than mine and she is a keen observer of life.

In a recent conversation, she lamented the state of our country and declared, “This president has tried to help this country and get things done and he hasn’t been allowed to do his job because the other side is only worried about seeing him fail.”

My mom was not born into a life of privilege. Life began for her in a drafty log cabin in rural southwestern Virginia in 1924 — one of eight children. The family luxury was a rug that partially blocked the cold from seeping through the floorboards. A child of the Depression, she saw the initiatives of FDR get people back to work with his “Alphabet Soup” programs.

We lament together that politics has become a rich man’s game, funded by greed, not capitalism. In the meantime, more people are suffering the effects of congressional obstructionism. Those of the evaporating middle class who embrace the Right don’t seem to realize that it will only take the loss of a job or a catastrophic health event to throw them under bus with all those they have derided as being lazy bums.

Mom “gets it,” and she worries. What I would give to be able to reassure her that things will turn around and we will act as one united country and not antagonistic factions apparently aimed at mutual self-destruction.

Lori Wingo


Maine GOP’s time

I encourage Maine residents to participate in the political system. The Maine Republican Party has scheduled caucuses for Feb. 4-11. With the withdrawal from the race of major contender Michele Bachmann, the coming suspension of the campaign of Rick Perry and the fall from public favor of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney is the apple of the eyes of all of the major media outlets.

Attempts to expose his shady past have not worked for Romney as they have for Gingrich or Santorum. Mitt Romney is a multimillionaire, and has a less-than-stellar record of job creation as a super PAC supportive of Gingrich has showed.

Despite persistent attempts by the mainstream media to remove 12-term Texas Rep. Ron Paul from the public eye, Paul’s moderate views on social issues (a civil libertarian with pro-life views), monetary policy (a consistent fiscal conservative) and an opponent of all wars not declared by Congress, as the constitution mandates, has resonated with people across the United States. Paul placed third in the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, and second in the New Hampshire primaries on Jan. 10.

I strongly urge voters to let their voice be heard and stand up to the media’s attack on well-known and well-liked candidates that happen to be disliked by the mainstream media elite. As the system is a caucus, it is only open to registered members of the Republican Party. If you feel strongly about a current candidate, but are not currently a Republican, consider registering as one. Please show the candidate of your choice has the backing of the Republican Party of Maine.

Wiley Glidden


Role of energy subsidies

Gov. LePage said, “Without a subsidy, wind doesn’t work,” but he “doesn’t have a problem with wind.”

Well, if our governor is so concerned about energy subsidies, perhaps he ought to look at those that are doing little more than draining funds from the U.S. Treasury.

Despite all the rhetoric recently about oil and gas subsidies keeping gasoline prices low, the oil and gas industry agrees that they do little in that regard. One study quoted by Pulitzer Prize-winning ProPublica found that eliminating them would cost the average American just $2 a year.

The proper role of subsidies is to help establish an industry that will benefit people, the economy, and/or the environment over the long run. When petroleum was first discovered this was absolutely true. Now that industry is both mature and the cause of some of our biggest problems.

Wind power and other renewables are young industries that are slowly replacing the fossil energy that is being depleted while it pollutes our air and water. Clean, renewable energy means clearer air, fishing with no risk of mercury poison and the security of endless supplies of zero cost “fuel.”

In the end, the arguments used by big oil and gas to maintain their (now unnecessary and harmful) subsidies are the same ones that should translate into our governor’s support for wind power.

The last time I checked Maine has wind, lots of it. What we don’t have is oil and gas. Let’s keep our people working on tomorrow’s energy today

Steve Perry


Fund up in smoke?

There has been a great deal of public debate concerning the governor’s supplemental budget. Cuts to MaineCare and private, non-medical institutions have garnered much of the attention, and for good reason. However, it is time to put the proposed cuts to the Fund for a Healthy Maine in the spotlight; cuts that will result in the elimination of essential prevention efforts in Maine.

Since its establishment, through the prevention efforts of the local Healthy Maine Partnerships, Maine has utilized the fund as it was initially intended, targeting tobacco and preventable chronic conditions impacting Maine families. This foundation for Maine’s public health system is currently proposed for elimination.

Prevention is the first, best and most cost-effective step in decreasing and containing Maine’s health care costs. A recent report by the bipartisan legislative committee charged with studying the feasibility of the FHM confirms that fund dollars are being spent on effective prevention programs and recommends continued support for these initiatives.

Currently Maine is the eighth healthiest state in the country and is 22nd in public health spending, thus showcasing that for every $1 spent on prevention Maine saves $7.50. If the cuts to the fund move forward as proposed Maine will fall to 48th in public health spending and over time, one can assume Maine’s health ranking will be adversely affected.

As discussion in Augusta continues it is imperative that legislators understand the outcomes of past and current prevention efforts, and the long-term financial burden Maine will face if prevention efforts are abolished.

Maxine Austin


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