Friday, Dec. 28, 2012: Older workers, people control and veterans benefits

Posted Dec. 27, 2012, at 9:28 p.m.

Thanking Collins

On behalf of AARP’s 230,000 members in Maine, I am writing to thank Sen. Susan Collins for signing on as a co-sponsor to the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, S.2189.

Age discrimination in the workplace is an increasingly serious problem. Regrettably, in 2009 the U.S. Supreme Court made things worse by imposing a much higher burden of proof on those workers who allege age discrimination than on workers who allege discrimination based on

race, sex, religion or national origin. The result is that a growing number of unemployed individual workers who have been discriminated against because of their age are unable to seek justice.

Further, it can mean that more older workers are choosing to remain silent about their age discrimination claims. Older workers who lose their jobs have a much harder time finding employment again. The average period of unemployment for an older worker lasts an average of 56 weeks. This is an extremely long time, especially in today’s challenging economy.

The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act is bipartisan legislation introduced to restore the vital civil rights protections for older workers, which were severely narrowed by the 2009 Supreme Court decision. The act will ensure equal opportunity for older workers, and Collins should be commended for signing on to this important and timely legislation.

John Hennessy

AARP Maine Advocacy Director

Portland

Gun, people control

An OpEd in the Bangor Daily News on Dec. 20 called for repeal of the Second Amendment.

I worry that this may be in store for our nation: “This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration. Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!” That was Adolf Hitler in 1935, about the time he was hatching plans for his Jewish friends. Note the code words “civilized” and “safer streets,” which often are used by anti-gunners over here.

Anyone who has run afoul of the Transportation Security Administration knows how government can run amok. Government grows big and powerful and oppressive. That is its nature. Control of people is its job, and the bigger it gets, the better it can do that job of harassing old white-haired ladies in line for a flight to visit relatives.

What government agencies are likely to become is the main reason Americans want to keep our Second Amendment. Though I fear it is too late, and our government has gotten too big, too powerful, too unmindful of our rights, any small impediment — a speed bump, if you like — to that government’s total control over mind and body is welcome.

John Hubbard

Bangor

Fiscal choices

Our country’s fiscal dilemmas aren’t a cliff, just an obstacle course and a series of choices. Wouldn’t the best choice be one that benefited the most people and did the least damage to the economy?

If we cut more from the Department of Defense and little or none from human-needs programs, such as education and health care, we get fewer job losses, a stronger economy and a less harmful effect on our country. Polls confirm that almost all of us want less of our tax money going

to the Pentagon and more for education, health care, veterans benefits, the environment, etc.

If we raise taxes just on the wealthy who make $250,000 or more, we could reduce our budget deficit and hurt our economy much, much less. It’s time to shift the burden to those who get paid the most but don’t work any harder than anyone else.

So, why is there a debate in Congress? It’s obvious what will do the most good for the largest number, what most voters want their tax money spent on and what will hurt the economy the least. Just do it.

Larry Dansinger

Monroe

Veterans benefits

If you are young and able then VA medical benefits are great.

At 85, handicapped, without transportation, how do you get to a clinic or Togus when you live 200 miles away?

I need a new pacemaker, but that means an impossible trip to Boston. We need access to local medical facilities at VA expense.

William Shorey

Millinocket

Snowmobile ‘happy trails’

I read with interest the recent story about Elliotsville Plantation announcing that its lands east of the East Branch of the Penobscot are open to snowmobiling. Some of the 14 miles of trail that Elliotsville lands provide between Millinocket and Matagamon are crucial north-south links for local snowmobile clubs, and we should all be enthusiastic about this announcement.

I, for one, am also enthusiastic about Elliotsville’s pledge to keep the Lookout Trail open for the foreseeable future on the new property it recently acquired on the west side of the East Branch.

Many riders enjoy the beautiful views of Mount Katahdin afforded by this route. I applaud Elliotsville’s willingness to listen to the snowmobile community and for protecting our access to the Lookout Trail.

Brian Wiley

East Millinocket

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