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Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012: Losers, history lesson, gas prices

They lose, we lose

How are requests at the state level for financial aid from the federal government, to emergencies (like the governor’s declaration Monday, Oct. 29, regarding the destruction caused by Sandy), justified by those on the political right?

How can people argue for “less government” and cuts to health care access for people in poverty, while justifying their own version of the distribution of our collective resources? I bet most answers would center on thoughts like, “It’s a natural disaster,” and “Those victims couldn’t help what happened to them.” If that’s true, my last question is, who made who the ruler of the community chest and determiner of whose suffering is justified?

We are able as a nation to send resources overseas and (appropriately) to our own victims of major storms, but when it comes to the poor, the mentally ill and those who are homeless in our own country we seem more capable of delivering blame than relief. The longer we do not act to provide real help to them, the longer they suffer and unintentionally act as a drag on our economic development potential. Thank God for those individuals and families who act on their own values and share their personal wealth for the good of others.

Dennis Marble


Not a priority project

As stated in the Certificate of Need Procedures Manual, the 108th Legislature reflected that duplication of health services are substantial cost factors and expressed intent to avoid excessive duplication in a region or community that already has such services.

The manual also states that if a certificate-of-need application has the potential to cause more excess in duplicate services, then that application must not be considered a priority project.

The Department of Health and Human Services would be wise to reject Central Maine Healthcare’s application to acquire control of Parkview Adventist Hospital on the basis that approval will give CMHS future potential to create additional excesses of costly duplicated services in the Brunswick region. By definition, CMHS’s application does not categorize as a priority project and should be treated as such.

Keith Kool


Comparing history

An article by Dr. Richard H. Thaler, of the University of Chicago School of Business, prompts me to write this. While my American colleagues and I were going into debt to earn our Ph.D’s, our Danish colleagues were getting paid $60,000 a year by the state to do their doctoral studies. They paid 50 percent in taxes, but their health insurance was free. So they came out of their graduate studies with no debt, and now if they have a marketable idea, they can try it out without putting themselves and their families at risk of crushing lifelong debt in the event of a serious illness.

The consequence? I believe that Denmark, a “socialist” country, today has more functioning small businesses and family farms per capita than the “capitalist” United States. Before the industrial revolution, the strength of America was in its self-reliant semi-communal family households and semi-socialist, semi-capitalist town economies. In those days, when Denmark was still a nearly feudal aristocracy, America had more successful small businesses per capita

than any Scandinavian country. America’s town schools were free, and what medicine was available to any was available to all at, whatever they could afford to pay.

Maybe we could learn something by comparing our own history and theirs. There is economic strength in some kinds of socialism and weakness in corporate hegemony.

Dr. W. B. Leavenworth


Christian judgment

I was disappointed to see editorial prominence given to an OpEd by Debra Wagner on Oct. 29 in which she opposes giving full marriage rights to all couples regardless of gender.

Wagner, as the wife of an Episcopal clergyman, would use her position to impose a narrow sectarian view of the sanctity of marriage. She presents a personal bias, based on a conservative interpretation of a presumed Christian consensus.

She does not say whether she speaks as a mainstream Episcopalian or as a an Orthodox Episcopalian, a branch which broke with the mother church over the ordination of women priests and a gay bishop In New Hampshire. The Orthodox Church still resists the ordination of women.

More important than doctrinal disagreements within a particular church is the divisive tone of Wagner’s opinion piece in regard to a whole range of Protestant denominations. She repeatedly refers to “leftist” and “liberal” trends within the body of modern Christianity and seeks to suppress honest discussions within theologians, all in the name of preserving “traditional” values. She also neglects to mention that many Protestant churches, Congregationalist and others, stress their “open and affirming” nature to show their inclusive Christian love for a broader humanity.

I should hope that people of all faiths and non-faiths could engage in an honest, non-acrimonious dialogue on the proper role of government and religion regarding the covenant of marriage in our democratic society, which has its own tradition of resistance to establishment of a state religion.

James B. Wagner


Gas price

I write in reference to a front page article in the BDN on Oct. 28 about a gasoline price promotion sponsored by the conservative group Americans for Prosperity-Maine. Carol Weston, the group’s leader, stated $1.84 was the price when President Barack Obama took office, and according to her the subsequent increase is due to “President Obama’s failing green energy prices.”

Not surprisingly, she and her group were totally silent on this issue during the reign of President George W. Bush when the price of gas went from $1.25 on the day he took office to $4.25 in January 2008, a gain of 340 percent in the first seven years of his administration. Gasoline prices plummeted during the last eight months of the Bush presidency because the American economy totally collapsed during the last year of his presidency.

Intelligent people know why the price of gas has gone up and down. It’s because of market demand. When the market gets stronger, the price goes up. One can assume Weston and her group are ill-informed. And, of course, they are if we accord legitimacy to what they say, but one could also assume they believe the public is dumb. Either way, public policy discourse sponsored by these folks is devoid of any substance. In short, laughable.

Harold C. Pachios

Cape Elizabeth

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