Many Mainers are suffering economically, living in cold homes, with empty cupboards. For every struggling family, there are 10 more a job loss or serious illness away from joining them. They are our family members, neighbors, friends or perhaps ourselves someday. For the people whose stories I know, it’s not lack of effort or character that puts them in this situation.
Mainers with the least are being squeezed the most with changes in drug and health care coverage and potential increases in property taxes. Losing insurance or prescription drug benefits, they are unable to get the care or the drugs they need and get sicker, incurring greater medical expenses, saving no one anything, just causing greater suffering and expense.
Cutting the homestead exemption and the circuit breaker programs and cutting municipal contributions could cause property taxes for the least expensive area homes to more than double. For many already struggling, this is disastrous. Some will lose their homes or be forced to choose between food, heat or the health care they need.
Yes, a difficult economy creates pain, but pain should be shared, not concentrated on the lowest income families. If we chose to decrease income taxes and make up the difference in increased property taxes, recognize this is a conscious choice, and let it come gradually. Let towns set priorities and churches and charities adjust to greater needs. Especially don’t simultaneously eliminate the circuit breaker. It’s the best tool we have to target relief where it is needed the most.
Coming around again
Fuel from beets? Does anyone remember Aroostook County tried crop diversification with sugar beets several years ago? That idea flew for a while and then disappeared. Why, I don’t know.
Well, California is getting into the business. The word is that sugar beets are great for producing ethanol, three times better than corn per acre. Corn ethanol is now at 13 billion gallons per year; 15 billion is the target. California farmers hope to be up and running before and when corn reaches its limit. My message to Aroostook farmers? Keep an eye on California, and maybe your time is coming around again.
Wake up, America! If the politicians don’t have the courage to ban assault rifles, they should at least have the courage to limit the number of rounds any gun can hold.
My wife and I recently lost a son to cancer. That was a very hard thing to go through. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to lose a child like the parents in Newtown, Conn., or any other place to a crazed gunman. They were innocent little children.
Wake up, America. Don’t let the National Rifle Association and others hide behind the Second Amendment. Let’s change it if necessary.
While Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has taken a fairly safe stand by supporting the stiffening of laws against gun trafficking, a more telling indicator of whether she is beholden to the extreme views of the National Rifle Association will be if she chooses to support the very reasonable legislation coming out of the Senate Judiciary Committee to strengthen background checks. Collins needs to support this legislation to keep guns out of the hands of people who would do our children harm.
White house costs
This letter concerns the front page story in the BDN on March 25 on how the sequestration will cause a delay of Acadia National Park opening this spring.
The White House has three calligraphers on staff costing almost $300,000 per year. You should notice that this letter is done entirely in a calligraphy font named calligraph421BT and comes free with Thunderbird email. I find it hard to believe that none of the PCs in the White House have a similar font available and thus could save the taxpayers enough money to open Acadia on time.
Since sequestration is a brainchild of the White House, I suspect that this administration knows what it is doing, and it is not an “unintended consequence.” Wouldn’t it be nice if this administration followed the medical profession’s philosophy and “do no harm”?
Tax forward, backward
Regarding Joe Perry’s OpEd ” A way forward,” in the BDN on March 25, I suggest his ideas are backward.
First, instead of increasing the age of retirement, we might consider a flat tax to fund Social Security and Medicare under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act. A flat tax would bring in enough money to pay for an even earlier retirement age. At present the FICA tax is collected on earnings only up to $113,000, while the average annual salary of the top 10 earners in the U.S. is $60,000,000. Given a flat tax, their share would average out to $7,320,000 each. That meager $113,000 limit means they pay their entire FICA tax during the first few hours of January 1, while the overwhelming majority of workers pay this tax through Dec. 31.
Second, make all corporations pay taxes; prohibit the use of tax shelters; and stop subsidizing major corporations. Twenty-six major corporations pay no net federal income tax, while making billions in profit. Some, like Verizon, also get federal subsidies.
Third, increase the minimum wage to equal the cost of living. Welfare, in fact, subsidizes corporations while degrading recipients.
Finally, health care. The U.S. health care-for-profit model has resulted in the U.S. paying more for health care than any other country on Earth with results poorer than Costa Rica and 36 other countries. With a reformed tax system, we, too, could have universal, single-payer health care and raise our health outcomes higher than those of developing countries.
Top notch in Bangor
As Judy Harrison’s BDN review noted on Penobscot Theatre’s production of “Wit”: “It makes theatergoers laugh, feel and think at the same time.” While we love to be entertained with toe-tapping reviews of music that we are familiar with and characters that lighten our step when we leave, we also appreciate and need theater that challenges us and provokes feelings and thoughts about difficult subjects. It demonstrates respect for the audience and a bold, chance-taking commitment to taking the caliber of “entertainment” up a notch in Bangor.
Suzanne and Bob Kelly