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For Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012: Medicare, education and Maine’s treasures

Governor’s agenda

My usual appreciation for the quality and fairness of the BDN was diminished by the editorial accusing Maine teachers and the Maine Education Association of playing politics and misinterpreting Gov. Paul LePage’s agenda.

When the governor has repeatedly and publicly denigrated public education at all levels, when he has stated that creationism and prayer will improve schools, when he has pushed hard to pass laws giving public tax money to for-profit corporations and religious schools, when he has claimed that Maine has one of the worst educational system in the nation, when he has freely and frequently stated his antagonism toward teachers and unions, LePage’s agenda becomes almost impossible to misinterpret.

Starting in the late 1950s, religious ultra-conservatives have worked hard to destroy respect for and confidence in public education with the goal of transferring public tax money to private religious schools. They have recently extended their agenda to support for-profit educational corporations. LePage belongs to this group and it is their goal of privatizing public education that he supports.

It is not the MEA or the teachers of Maine that are playing political games, and the BDN might be gracious enough to publish another editorial contrasting their agenda and their political activity with that of LePage’s aggressive pronouncements, political maneuvering and conservative agenda.

Janet M. Alexander

Old Town

Great research

Great story by Brian Swartz about Maine’s Civil War soldier, Morris Leach of Penobscot, based on letters written to John and Joanna Gray.

His brief and poignant pursuit of Flora Gray ceased with his death of “debilitating illness.” These letters were found in a trunk in my husband’s and his sister’s home (great-great-grandchildren) and were donated to the Orrington Historical Society Museum. Especially thorough research and knowledge by Swartz in all his Civil War articles.

Mary E. Gray


Dec. 7 deadline for Medicare

The election season has passed and regardless of their political persuasion, people across Maine and the country can now take a deep breath and go about their business.

One issue that was the subject of a great deal of political wrangling was Medicare. It can be difficult when such talk comes during the annual election period, the only time when most Medicare beneficiaries can make changes. Many plans offer new options, so it is a good idea for seniors to see what’s out there.

But seniors only have until Dec. 7 to make a change. And, contrary to some of the fear tactics we heard during the election, Medicare plans remain. The acting deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently said, “While you can’t predict everything in life, you can do your best to be prepared. Medicare will be there, stronger than ever, to help.”

Over the next couple weeks, I encourage seniors to explore resources that can help answer questions. Visit www.medicare.gov to learn more about different options, including Medicare Advantage plans.

People should talk to those they know who are already enrolled in Medicare about their lessons learned and advice.

Making choices about Medicare can be challenging but seniors shouldn’t feel like they have to do this alone.

Larry Henry


Why not?

I have been thinking for the last month or so since the Zumba case broke about the issue of prostitution. I understand that the act of prostitution is a touchy suspect and could potentially hurt relationships, damage careers and cause community issues, but at its core prostitution is one of the oldest jobs in the world.

Although I disapprove of the act, why should someone, as the great George Carlin once said, “be charged for something people give away for free anyway”?

What’s the difference, for example, in taking a woman out on a date, paying for her meal and then having a romantic escapade afterwards? Is that not a form of “prostitution”? I’m not saying it should be legal, and by all means it’s probably wrong. If a woman can make money using her body, in this economy, then why not?

Jon Coburn


Crimes against humanity

It is sad and disappointing to see the energy and passion devoted to so many protests around the world condemning the actions of Israel this week as it tries to defend its citizens from rocket attacks launched by Hamas terrorists in Gaza. In the same week that Israel takes extraordinary measures to minimize collateral damage to Palestinian civilians, the Syrian regime has butchered more than 300 of its own citizens, the Egyptian government stood by while a bus of 50 Egyptian children were killed in a train crash, and the Jordanian government jailed 89 citizens for up to 15 years for protesting government policies. But where are the outcries against these atrocities?

The “special treatment” given to Israel by the “concerned” public is truly misguided and representative of a warped worldview. Their attention would be better spent addressing real crimes against humanity.

Alex Shapero


Maine is a treasure

The time has been coming for years, now it is at our doorstep. It’s time the little people confront the big people and say stop. I’m not talking about size, but rather power. Do we, as people dedicated to the natural beauty and resources of nature, overlook what the gigantic corporations see as necessary procedures to provide jobs, enhance state profits, make life more livable for us?

Isn’t it time each of us learn what those big guys are planning right here in Maine? Read what Irving Limited, a large Canadian corporation, is hoping to accomplish on Bald Mountain in Aroostook County. An open-pit mine is planned that would add to their finances but what that project would do to the surrounding land and water sources would bring serious damage — not just today. Contaminating the area is a serious factor in that plan.

All this, plus far more will take place right under our noses if we overlook our responsibility to maintain the state as it is today. There is far more to this environmental problem than I can accurately report because I, too, am just an onlooker.

What I would suggest, if this is a subject you feel strongly about, contact the Natural Resources Council of Maine at 3 Wade Street, Augusta, Maine 04330-6317 and get the facts simply and factually stated. Maine is a treasure. Residents should be concerned about the state’s future to make sure it will be here for our children and grandchildren long after we have left!

Katy Perry


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