LETTERS

Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012: Down East caucus, school choice and Web sales taxes

Posted Feb. 15, 2012, at 1:20 p.m.

Washington County snubbed

It is an absolute outrage that the Maine GOP thinks that with only 83 percent of Maine’s votes for the 2012 Presidential Preference Poll it can discredit the potential votes of 8,000 members of the party from Washington County. It is even more of an outrage that the Maine GOP can call a winner based on only that 83 percent reported.

At a time when the GOP needs to come together more than ever to clear out the current Obama administration, and at a time when the GOP needs to gain strength and the trust of its members, it has made an irreversible mistake.

Though the Maine GOP still could make attempts to save face and do the right thing, there is no guarantee that Washington County GOP members will soon forget how their party has so willingly disregarded their votes.

Ultimately, whether one member of the Washington County GOP or all 8,000 members would have made it out to vote, it is not Charlie Webster’s race to call. This is the people’s preference poll, not the chairman’s.

Lindsay Carter

Old Orchard Beach

School choice failed

“Children First” is a catchy slogan used by education reformers Michelle Rhee, Arlene Ackerman and now Gov. Paul LePage. What it really means is propaganda first, unions are bad, teachers are like car salesmen and we should pay them the same way.

In Washington, D.C., scandal forced Rhee from her job when it was revealed that in order to promote her agenda of merit pay, teachers were cheating to raise student test scores (103 schools). The same happened in Philadelphia (89 schools) and Atlanta (44 schools). These cheating scandals were done without recrimination, and to this day Rhee touts how well merit pay works.

As for education vouchers, the Arizona Republic printed the following: Wherever vouchers have been tried scandals have erupted. When comparing students from similar demographics, public schools have repeatedly demonstrated superior academic results over other alternatives. Vouchers circumvent the separation of church and state.

Maine deserves better than the failed policies of false propaganda. If LePage’s plan is to fund private schools and promote school choice by use of vouchers and charters, and to evaluate teachers based on their students’ test scores, ignoring the home environment and its impact on academic achievement, then Mainers deserve better than Paul LePage.

Ken Allan

Machias

Stop sales tax dodge

A sale is a sale. Simple enough, right? Wrong. Online-only retailers are using outdated legislation to bend the rules and get ahead.

Retailers such as Amazon and Overstock.com have found a loophole in Maine statute and have avoided paying state sales taxes. If you have ever wondered why you can get such a great “deal” online, it is because online-only retailers are not being held accountable. These retailers are able to sell their products at lower prices under the assumption that you, the consumer, will go back and file sales taxes on your own time.

Because few consumers know that it is their responsibility to file these sales taxes, the state is losing out. Requiring online-only companies to collect sales taxes is not a new tax; it is the money our state deserves. Whenever any other goods are purchased in Maine, a percentage of that purchase goes back to the state. Why should online-only retailers not be held to the same standards?

These online retailers are negatively impacting our local economy by not paying the sales tax. Look at the facts and you will see that there are losers across the board. Small businesses are shutting down and good people are losing their jobs. With at least a 5 percent price advantage over brick-and-mortar stores, our local businesses can’t compete with Internet giants such as Amazon and Overstock.com.

No more excuses. It is time that online-only retailers start doing their share.

Rep. Stacey Fitts

Pittsfield

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