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Wednesday, April 10, 2013: Pensions, dialogue and bias

The governor’s pension

In my ignorance, or maybe because I’m not paying attention, I didn’t realize that a governor got a pension. That is some deal. “Serve” four years and live off the state, travel around the world, put your daughter in a well-paying job, act like a bully and spoiled brat, then get a pension. Doesn’t seem right to me, but then not much of what 99 percent of politicians do seems right to me.

They mostly get into office any way they can and do things to better their standard of living and forget why they are there in the first place. Take, for example, Sen. Doug Thomas, R-Ripley. He had been all for the east-west highway but then wanted to put it on hold until after the election, and now he is for it again. Surprise, surprise.

Speaking of the east-west highway, it seems to me that it is for the benefit of Canadians, Cianbro Corp. head Peter Vigue, Thomas and others.

Everyday I see trucks from Canada, right on each other’s tailgates, hauling wood products to Canada to be processed and probably sold back to us. What is wrong with this picture? Why isn’t someone from here processing these logs?

Jack Leeman



Fix the debt

As a small business owner at Fairmount Market in Bangor, I want to know that my business will succeed or fail based on the things I can control — my own effort, hiring the right people and choosing the right things to sell, for instance. However, with our elected leaders in Washington bouncing us from one manufactured fiscal crisis to another, the current lack of policy certainty and economic stability is making it harder for small businesses like mine to plan ahead and make smart investing or hiring decisions.

While it’s clear we need to confront our enormous deficit and our ever-escalating national debt, we need to do so in a comprehensive and thoughtful way. An intelligent, bipartisan agreement to reduce our deficit and begin controlling our debt is essential, and it will make long-term planning for businesses like mine much less of a risky proposition.

The Campaign to Fix the Debt — a national, non-partisan effort — is pushing for such a plan. I became a supporter of the campaign after attending a recent campaign event at Husson University.

Former Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat, and former state Sen. Phil Harriman, a Republican, spoke candidly about the looming economic disaster that the national debt presents. What we need is more bipartisan dialogues like this one. Hopefully it will help us fix the debt and make life easier for the nation’s small businesspeople like me.

Dan Tremble


Follow the money

This letter is in response to the April 1 BDN story, “Hospitals grow despite debt from MaineCare.”

The reporter did not follow the money and thereby overlooked the big cash machines operating in American hospitals that fund all these huge hospital expansions: Medicare. The program is funding hospital building booms in retirement zones, such as Florida and Maine, profit-driven in-hospital labs and pharmacies, the “chargemaster” and unnecessary tests to pay for expensive medical equipment.

MaineCare is only chump-change in hospital profit margins. In-hospital labs and pharmacies have a captured audience who do not know what the markups are on the over-ordering and over-pricing.

Hospitals charge thousands upon thousands of dollars for saline solutions or oxygen management, which are supposed to be part of a hospital’s room-and-services charge.

This money flow into hospital cash registers is a critical profit source.

The “chargemaster” is the hospital billing system that is in charge of our wallets. Have readers never heard of “chargemaster”? Neither have most Americans. It’s the inflated rates hospitals charge for services that insurance companies try to negotiate down to more reasonable prices – unless they don’t have health insurance.

Yet the enrichment of hospitals, their administrators, drug companies, medical equipment makers and the health-insurance industry continues unabated as their lobbyists cross the palms of Congress with money.

Meanwhile, caring physicians who don’t feed at drug company and medical equipment troughs struggle on in a failing health-care system.

Phyllis Merriam

Licensed Clinical Social Worker



Too good to be true

Ethan Strimling’s recent BDN blog post referred to a poll of 400 or so residents about gun control who were positive on more gun control in this state. This poll was conducted by the Pan Atlantic SMS Group of Portland whose CEO is Victoria Murphy, former chair of the Maine Democratic State Committee and whose husband conducted the poll.

At 78-years-old, I have found out through the school of hard knocks that if something is too good to be true, it usually isn’t. I hope the paper’s bloggers would not be so obvious in their agenda. Also try to find pollsters that do not have a partisan agenda.

Darrold Dorr



Contribute to worthy cause

Apparently, it is in the works that President Barack Obama plans to cut back on Medicare and Social Security to satisfy the concerns of the Republicans regarding our national debt.

There is no doubt that such reduction in support for medication and adequate nutritious food will cause a slow and premature death of some individuals who depend almost entirely Medicare and Social Security.

This change in elderly life quality will be a badge of Republican’s achievement and can only be seen as government-controlled “echinacea.” It is regrettable to point out that life quality of the elderly received a kinder treatment from Obamacare’s “death panels” then from Republican’s “echinacea.”

If it is appropriate for the old folks to contribute with their well-being to the national debt reduction, then I am sure that most us will agree that the entitlements of senators and representatives should contribute to this worthy cause.

Bohdan Slabyj


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