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Wednesday, June 12, 2013: Immigration, welfare and gun control


The June 6 BDN OpEd by Jonette Christian, “Immigration reform: Get it right this time,” is a classic example of an attempt to rationalize xenophobia and to equate immigration with the source of economic and social demise.

She justifies her paranoia by citing a Nobel laureate economist and the Columbia Journalism Review, a similar tactic used by the Nazis and Fascists to justify the removal by one means or another of those deemed a threat to society.

Although it appears to me that she believes that immigrants are the source of all evil in our society, she is really concerned that if families were to reunite with each other, there would be a population explosion, then not enough food, jobs or money to go around.

Christian’s 1999 article “Population, Immigration and Global Ethics” says it all: “The immigration debate, which we are not having, is about what level of immigration best serves the long-term interests of this nation and the rest of the world.”

Maine employers need willing employees. If they cannot find employees, they cannot grow. If they don’t grow, there’ll be no demand, and if no demand exists, no one will come to the U.S. Thus no immigration problem.

Articles like these are based on primordial fears and try to cloud the real problem of immigration. At long last, Congress has started a dialogue in earnest. It is a mockery of this dialogue to say “well, wait a minute.”

On the contrary, we must use all resources — families, jobs and security. To do so, we must develop an orderly system of immigration and do it in a bipartisan manner — without the smoke and mirrors that Christian offers.

Mark Russo


Broken system

I left the University of Maine with a degree in behavioral sciences in 2004 and learned after only a year working within the system as a provider that we have a long-standing policy problem around how these services are provided.

People come to service providers fragmented, looking for help to pull it all back together. It makes no logical sense to ask that person to achieve holistic recovery by obtaining services in multiple locations by multiple providers who are too overwhelmed to effectively communicate with each other.

At that point, I decided my educational path was not complete and enrolled in the master’s degree for public administration at UMaine. In a nutshell, there are too many long-standing bureaucratic dynamics protecting the current system from transition.

After nine years of public service, with five of those years working in methadone clinics, it is clear to this qualified professional that I have two choices: Either shut up and continue to allow my credentials and licensing to be used incorrectly, or walk away from this field of work as I have seen many others do.

But instead, I called the governor’s office, and the state regulator of the methadone clinics went to the clinic I was working at and got me fired within two weeks. So that is what we get if we speak up about what we see is not working. Good thing I refuse to do my job incorrectly as well as refuse to walk away when I know I can help.

Carolyn Blackfeather Rae, certified alcohol and drug counselor


Wrong target

J. Thomas Franklin, president of Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence, is either being ignorantly disingenuous or outright dishonest by even mentioning the Newtown, Conn., tragedy in his June 4 article regarding the so-called gun show loophole.

What happened in Newtown was not the result of questionable gun show purchases of firearms. The firearms used in this tragedy were purchased legally and then illegally stolen from the owner, the perpetrator’s mother.

Yet Franklin, in his zeal to address a complex issue, not only uses a fallacy of logic, he effectively distracts and obfuscates the real issues and heart-wrenching crimes that were committed by a man who had no business to access a firearm. This is a disservice to the victims, their families and those of us who rationally, reasonably and legally choose the responsibility required for firearm ownership.

Steve Zahm


General welfare provider

In The Star Herald on June 5, Rep. Alexander Willette, R-Mapleton, uses welfare pejoratively six times, calling it “irresponsible” and the cause of hospital debt.

The U.S. Constitution has a different view of welfare. In the preamble, “promote the general welfare” is one of six reasons for establishing the Constitution. In Article 1, Section 8, “provide for … the general welfare” is listed as one use for Congress’ “power to lay and collect taxes.” Medicaid expansion is a good way to “provide for the general welfare” for thousands of working poor in Maine who won’t be able to pay their hospital bills without it.

It also benefits hospitals, taxpayers and job seekers.

Willette accuses Democrats of reneging on their promise to pay the debt and of playing party politics because they attached Medicaid expansion to the bill to pay the hospitals. But there was a good reason to combine the two issues. Medicaid expansion is a way to provide hospitals with payment in the future and prevent the accrual of debt.

Willette’s accusation that Rep. Robert Saucier, D-Presque Isle, broke his promise to bring jobs to Aroostook County by supporting Medicaid expansion is contradicted by a statement of Gordon Smith from the Maine Medical Association in a March 5 BDN story, “A Medicaid expansion could support the creation of about 2,000 health care jobs.”

To create the most jobs, Maine needs to pay the hospital debt and expand Medicaid. I believe Willette’s attack on Saucier is unreasonable and unjust.

Alice Bolstridge

Presque Isle

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