Monday, May 28, 2012: Maine as a corporate state, health insurance and the Senate race

Posted May 27, 2012, at 4:40 p.m.

Maine: A corporate state?

The divide in America is not between political parties and their ideologies, between religious beliefs, between rich and poor, or between value systems. It is between the corporate state and the citizen.

Gov. Paul LePage knows what he wants: a corporate state. LePage and his supporters clearly march to the following orders: establish optimal conditions for private firms to enter Maine so that they may profit without interference. The marching orders follow a simple set of principles:

• Eliminate outside influence on compensation and benefits;

• Consolidate control of operating expenses;

• Remove controls (regulations) impacting freedom of action; and

• Establish barriers that prevent challenges to the corporate state’s control.

Removal of collective bargaining rights for child care providers was a symbolic message to corporate entities of the following: “Maine is open for business, no wage or benefit concerns here.”

The attempt to repeal the Maine ban of BPA, the harmful chemical found in plastic bottles, was another symbolic message to corporate entities that “Maine is open for business, so put what you want into your products.”

State revenue comes from state income, sales and real estate taxes. Reducing the state income tax more than likely places additional burden on sales and real estate taxes; that is Paul LePage’s intent.

Is elimination of the middle-class and working-class social Darwinism or social genocide? What LePage cares about is being CEO of a corporate state, and he is well on his way.

Thomas Czyz

Falmouth

Clean up the mess

No one in the upcoming race for the U.S. Senate seat is better qualified to fill it than our current Secretary of the Treasury, Bruce Poliquin. A successful businessman, he has been an extraordinary treasury secretary, saving Maine citizens millions in reclaimed dollars, whether from the rescue and restructuring of public sector pensions, the removal of an unnecessary middleman from our bond-selling process, or uncovering abuses at Maine State Housing, resulting in money going to the poor rather than to Las Vegas trips or other luxuries for bureaucrats.

In contrast, Angus King’s expertise left the state with financial problems we are still cleaning up and his business acumen is best adapted to schemes using taxpayer dollars for unnecessary loans. Our major newspapers have shown little or no interest in following the SEC investigation of the $102,000,000 in taxpayer dollars his wind power company received or Mr. King’s abrupt resignation, once apprised of that investigation.

This election is about sending people to Washington to clean up the mess. Let’s not send anyone who has been busy creating it.

Patricia Egan

Rockport

Contribute to food pantry

This year, when we make our visit to the cemetery to honor our deceased loved ones, would it not be a more loving tribute to donate to our local food pantry the amount usually spent on plastic flowers?

We could still go to the cemetery, trim around the headstone, offer our prayers for our loved ones and share with them the donation we made in their honor. Remembering how they lived, I believe my deceased parents would like this charitable bouquet.

Marim Rooney

Hermon

Premium jump

I received notice this week from Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield that my individual health insurance premium is about to increase from $563 to $663 per month, an increase of $1,200 for the coming year. I am a healthy, self-employed 62 year-old, with a $5,000 deductible policy. My premiums have gone up every year, but the 17 percent jump is unprecedented and disheartening.

The increase results from last year’s action by the Legislature and the governor allowing higher rates to be charged to rural Mainers along with 10 percent annual increases without Insurance Commission review.

It is true that I can choose not to pay $8,000 to Anthem this year, but the choices for individual policyholders are poor. There is Mega Life, which has been rated D+ by the Better Business Bureau for a history of not paying claims, and Dirigo Health, which the Legislature may soon extinguish altogether. The Affordable Care Act directs creation of insurance exchanges which might increase competition in the Maine market, but the Legislature has chosen not to begin that process. The other lousy options are to move to a state with more concern for consumers, or live third-world style and go without health insurance.

In my view, the Legislature’s action amounts to a new form of tax, a kind we will see again in various forms. Diminishing insurance regulation and increasing rates means thousands of us are compelled to pay more so Anthem’s formerly modest profits in the individual market can be “healthier.”

Stephen McKay

Orono

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