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Thursday, June 14, 2012: Job training bill, insect repellents and Social Security

U.S. House neglects vulnerable

The U.S. House is considering a bill that would be devastating to employment and training programs that serve vulnerable populations.

The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012, known as HR 4297, is a bill that would eliminate the competitive process for funding certain programs and instead hand over these programs to the state.

Among the programs at risk are the Job Corps centers, the Senior Community Service Employment Program and the National Farmworker Jobs Program.

The greatest impact would be on the most vulnerable of the nation’s workers. Because there would be no mandate on amounts spent for training hard-to-serve and vulnerable populations, state governments would have little incentive to serve populations whose training would likely require more money and resources.

In Maine, the National Farmworker Jobs Program has for over 30 years helped hundreds of migrant and seasonal farmworkers achieve stable, year-round employment in our economy. The program has helped those who have worked in potato, blueberry, dairy and other industries achieve higher paying positions in agriculture, as well as enter community college and adult education programs to prepare for high-growth, in-demand occupations.

In order to maintain the National Farmworker Jobs Program as a strong, competitively granted program, it is imperative that HR 4297 not become law. Please contact our representatives to let them know that HR 4297 is a bad bill and the NFJP must remain a strong national program to help farm workers in Maine and the U.S. realize the American dream.

Christopher Huh

Fletchers Landing

Grammatical shift

It seems that we are seeing a grammatical shift and no one is going to stop it. Language changes with usage and thus there is often change over decades and centuries. Now not even the Bangor Daily News gets it right. The possessive of it is “its,” using no apostrophe. “It’s” with an apostrophe means IT IS and is just a contraction. Recently under a photo of a diving osprey we read “it’s talons.”

Recently I read online about the town, “it’s heartbreak.” The mistake is everywhere. Set an example and use the appropriate possessive — “its.” May I say it is (it’s) just good English to use the possessive (its) correctly. It’s (It is) everywhere.

Joan MacCracken


Insect repellents

While the article on insect repellents was informative ( Fed up Mainers say, “Shoo, fly. Don’t bother me,” BDN May 26) let the buyer (and seller) beware.

All products that make a pesticidal claim are considered pesticides and regulated accordingly. That is to say that they must either be registered on a federal and sometimes on a state level, or in some instances, may be exempt from registration. Exempted products are tested neither for safety nor efficacy.

Regardless of how well natural repellents may or may not work, the majority of them must be registered in order to be legally sold. Some of the products mentioned do not meet the exemption criteria and as such are out of compliance with FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act).

Before you buy any repellent, check the label for either an EPA registration number or language that states that the product meets the registration exemption criteria.

While the market for “natural” products is increasing, so is the proliferation of snake oil products. Regulatory oversight is designed to protect a buyer’s health, making a product prove that the claims it makes are in fact true.

Brian Steinwand

St. Albans

Social insecurity

I am writing in response to the Bangor Daily News’ reprint of an editorial that appeared in the Sun Journal on May 20. Now, more than ever, Social Security must be protected for current and future generations. While the article paints a bleak picture and there is no doubt that we are going through challenging economic times in America, what emerges for me is that strengthening Social Security has never been more important.

Social Security protects seniors because it provides a foundation of income security to retirees and their families, workers who have become disabled and their families, and the spouses and dependents of workers who have died. When an economic storm hits, Social Security provides reliable protection. Social Security benefits don’t decrease when the stock market drops. Unlike most private pension plans, Social Security protects against inflation through cost-of-living adjustments. The program provides a guaranteed benefit over a lifetime. No one can outlive their benefit.

About half of America’s seniors have an income under $20,000 a year. Nearly one in four seniors relies on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their family income.

What is clear is that Congress needs to work together to strengthen this critical program. If you want to make your own voice heard on the future of Social Security, go to www.earnedasay.org and complete the AARP questionnaire. We all have a stake in the future of our earned benefits and it is time for Washington to hear what we have to say.

Charlene Thompson

AARP Maine Executive Council Volunteer


Political greed

Insatiable greed is an illness I understand. I practiced neuropsychiatric medicine for 18 years and treated those who, simply for not getting just what they wanted, suffer terribly. Their stories explain their suffering: patients unable to tolerate even minimal frustration were all emotionally abandoned children. No one had taught them what human parents have always taught their children. We are part of something bigger than ourselves: something good, something we can trust but must also respect and honor.

Taking time and patience to impart this message defines us as human. We honor life, the Earth and our word; we are generous and cooperative; we care for children and people less fortunate — all because someone helped us learn to do so.

Insatiable greed currently dominates the agenda of the Republican Party. Mainers, nationally known to reach out a hand to neighbors in need, have just learned a hard lesson about the ruthlessness of this agenda. Controlling the national media, with unlimited funds and with disregard for the truth, the agenda of insatiable greed is now focused on “winning” the White House.

With deep respect for a time-tested Maine tradition of not meddling with other folks’ politics, I also know Mainers read the newspapers and take seriously the obligation to vote one’s conscience. In talking with neighbors I’ve learned that, if expressed with compassion and without blame, this understanding of insatiable greed resonates with their own observations of bullies and of those with great wealth but empty lives. More information is available at www.bornforjoy.com.

Sara Stalman, M.D.


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