Friday, March 2, 2012: East-west highway, birth control and overpopulation

Posted March 01, 2012, at 12:48 p.m.

Proud, not outraged

Do I have this right? My governor is calling on me to be outraged about the fact that we take better care of our needy brothers and sisters than 45 of the other states in our union?

No sir, you obviously don’t understand my thinking. I’m downright proud of this fact. No sir, no “outrage” from me!

May Dirigo lead in developing the interdependence which only can weld us into true human community.

David Putnam

Brooklin

No ‘hollow middle’ here

The Legislature’s Transportation Committee voted Feb. 16 to allocate $300,000 in taxpayer dollars to determine the feasibility of a private toll highway across Maine, connecting New Brunswick with Quebec.

Who profits from this scheme? Cianbro Corp. and its investors. Canadian truckers moving imported goods from the port of Halifax to Quebec. Extractive industries taking Maine water and wood chips to East Coast shippers for export. Town officials of Searsport, who are vocal in their support for both an East-West highway and an LPG tank, along with a container port on Sears Island, are promoting these heavy industries for reasons that become obvious once the dots are connected (see defendingwater.net/maine).

Like the Searsport projects, the East-West highway would be an environmental nightmare. Consider the 230-mile route to be hacked out and paved through the North Woods: It would impinge on Moosehead Lake and other significant landmarks, destroying priceless wetlands and wildlife habitat and old-growth forests. Three major rivers and the Appalachian Trail would have to be bridged.

To Peter Vigue’s contention that his Canada connector would fill Maine’s “hollow middle,” we say that our heartland is not hollow. It is teeming with precious life — wildlife as well as human inhabitants who live there because they cherish its culture and undeveloped topography. For visitors from all over the world, these natural resources are a respite from industrialized society.

With voting imminent, our legislators must hear from us without delay, while there is still time to voice opposition to LD 1671.

Jody Spear

Harborside

Church, contraception, Obama

Mrs. Soneson’s letter on February 27 (“Whose choice”) at first upset me. I felt she was wrong to claim that her freedom of religion was being jeopardized by President Obama’s mandate. I believed that, in fact, the Catholic Church was actually imposing its beliefs upon its employees, many of whom are not members of the Catholic faith, by denying women employees equal access to health care (mandated birth control coverage for all insured women). The Catholic Church was guilty of taking away basic equal rights for women in this light.

However, after much soul-searching, I’ve come to understand Mrs. Soneson’s point of view, and why the Catholic Church, evangelical Christians and other conservative groups are so upset. I’ve reasoned that the Catholic Church is many things. It’s a body of church members (an organization); an institution with written religious doctrine; and as an employer, a business.

In its last two forms, it could be viewed as needing to follow the mandate. Yet since the Catholic Church is also a body of believers, it has a collective conscience, expressed by more than simply its doctrine. This collective conscience is made up of the hearts and minds and actions of its believing members. And here in America, these believing members are indeed American citizens.

Should President Obama be asking the Catholic Church, in this light, to provide vital health care benefits to women? I’m not sure. Is the church a body of members, an institution or a business?

Sally C. Jones

Hampden

Logical conclusions

Regarding the political hot button that Catholic bishops are pushing over freedom of religion and the right to refuse to provide contraceptives: Let’s take this to its logical conclusion.

If the bishops’ position prevails, this means that Jehovah’s Witnesses can deny coverage of blood transfusions; Baptists and other conservative churches that believe smoking and drinking are a sin can deny coverage of smoking- and drinking-related illnesses; Hindus can deny coverage of any disease such as heart disease that’s connected to an animal-based diet; and Christian Scientists can deny coverage completely for care that saves a practitioner.

If freedom of religion must trump an individual’s right to privacy and medical needs, as these bishops and members of Congress advocate, then here’s a suggestion: nationalize health insurance so no business or institution is responsible for directly covering an employee.

Health care then becomes the responsibility of the state and does not discriminate based upon race, creed, gender, employment, economic status or nationality of either the religious employer or the employee who may not share the same religious convictions.

Christine Talbott

Hampden

Population’s time bomb

We live on a finite planet. It took from the beginning of time until 1850 for the world to finally reach a population of 1 billion. Just 50 years later, it was estimated at 1.5 billion.

Then 50 years later, in 1950, it was estimated at 2.4 billion. Then 40 years later, it was estimated at 5.2 billion.

Then just 10 years later, in 2000, the world population was at 6,078,684,329.

While the rate of increase begins to slow at this point, it doesn’t mean the numbers don’t continue to increase. The estimate is that by 2050 there will be over 9 billion people on this planet. That is presuming nature hasn’t taken over and cut our numbers to something sustainable.

Nature’s method will be effective but probably not pleasant; possibly starvation or maybe an out-of-control virus. Or like rats when they get too crowded and start to kill each other off, some human might use nuclear war.

If God gave us brains with which to think, I presume he would like to see us start to use them.

Doris Watkins

Holden

Diocese hypocrisy

A recent news report in response to the news that Maine will have a second referendum on marriage equality quoted Bishop Malone of Portland’s Catholic diocese saying he was disappointed that supporters would bring such a divisive issue to vote again, especially since it detracts from more important concerns such as homelessness and poverty.

This is particularly hypocritical coming from the group that spends more resources blocking marriage equality and meddling in other peoples’ sex lives than it does lobbying on issues related to poverty and the economy. It also defunded a homeless shelter over its support for marriage equality and used bigotry and lies (the diocese’s Marc Mutty called it “hyperbole”) about harms to children to lead the movement to overturn legislation granting civil marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Elle Morris

Portland

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