Saturday/Sunday, Feb. 18-19, 2012: Propane facility, USPS problems and Catholic beliefs

Posted Feb. 17, 2012, at 4:31 p.m.

Supporting propane facility

I live on a fixed income in Searsport, just like a lot of people in town. I am supporting the Searsport propane facility for two reasons. We need the tax base and we need jobs. We can’t live on tourism — as anyone knows who lives in a coastal community, tourism is seasonal. I am fully behind the project.

Joseph Ashey

Searsport

USPS debt from prefunding

The U.S. Postal Service faces an uncertain future. I attended a “teach-in” in Ellsworth on Feb. 1 and have looked further into the matter.

In a recent letter Sen. Susan Collins cited hefty numbers for shaky conclusions. She maintains USPS retiree health benefits are in jeopardy if not prefunded 75 years into the future. Last week the Postal Inspector General — charged with impartial oversight of the USPS — reported “over $326 billion to address future liabilities” are currently held in the service’s retiree health fund and two pension plans, “prefunding combined pension and retiree health care obligations at 91%.” He noted, “The federal government does not prefund its retiree health benefits at all, and the military is funded at a 35% level.”

Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders offered this take on USPS retirement liabilities: “Even if there are no further contributions from the Post Office, and if the fund simply collects 3.5 to 4 percent interest every year, that account will be fully funded in 21 years.”

Sen. Collins has coauthored legislation, S. 1789, that would trim by 20 percent the service’s staggering $5.5 billion annual prefunding obligation. If the USPS is not profitable in two years, the bill prescribes drastic cuts in service.

Most of USPS debt comes from prefunding. Sen. Sanders has introduced a bill, S. 1853, that would relieve the prefunding burden and maintain and expand service levels. My hope is that Sen. Collins will review her numbers and see that things are not really so dire.

William Nelson

Belfast

Beliefs of the Catholic Church

In response to William Slavick’s recent letter to the editor, “Catholic Inconsistency”: When presenting your opinion, it is fair to make statements that are controversial, but not to incorrectly represent the beliefs of others. I wish to clarify the truth and consistency of beliefs presented by the Catholic Church.

First, the church teaches that contraception (not just abortion) violates natural law. Secondly, the “Doctrine of Reception” as referred to by Mr. Slavick is not official Catholic doctrine and should not be presented as such.

Mr. Slavick also refers to John Paul II’s and Benedict XVI’s anti-council redefinition of primacy of conscience. With just a little research, one can discover that these popes have been consistent with the teachings of Vatican Council II, both in holding personal conscience in the highest esteem and in expecting Catholics to form their consciences according to objective truth, not just “what your heart tells you is right.”

Sarah M. Menkin

Plymouth

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