Act in perspective
I want to put the Affordable Care Act into perspective for Northern Maine. A single 50-year-old with a $32,000 annual income has a monthly premium of $735. After state and federal income taxes, sales tax, property taxes, use taxes, excise taxes, social security tax and Medicare tax, this individual is paying about 50 percent of their income in taxes. If an individual travels 23 miles one way to work, the vehicle depreciation, tires, insurance, gas and oil changes create a non-tax deductible expense of about 25 percent of their income. This individual is left with approximately $720 a month to live on.
The $735 monthly premium for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is every single solitary penny that this individual has left to live on for the month.
The Festival of Trees wonderland at the Anah Shrine Center on Main Street in Bangor is an event that one should not miss. Kudos to those who decorated trees and donated them for the event — they are absolutely stunning. Other decorations displayed by the Shrine ladies are special and certainly add to the Christmas atmosphere.
There is soothing, live music; a “gingerbread café” for a relaxing lunch, or to simply have the yummy gingerbread/whipped cream dessert; and, of course, Santa is there for someone to sit on his knee. Friday, Nov. 29, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., are the final days to view this wonderland at only $2 per person, with children under 12 free.
Extend your Thanksgiving weekend enjoyment by attending this “splendiferous” display of 45 or so trees, and you can decide which one is your favorite.
Sharon I. Rideout
Who doesn’t remember seeing their first moose? Moose are one of the iconic species here in Maine that are important for our environment and the tourism and hunting economies. Big game has long symbolized America’s rich natural heritage, and their recovery, funded in large part by sporting licenses, is one of our shared conservation success stories.
But climate change is threatening to rewrite that success story, cautions a new National Wildlife Federation report, “ Nowhere to Run: Big Game Wildlife in a Warming World.” Warming temperatures fueled by industrial carbon pollution are leading to more droughts, wildfires and extreme weather events, disrupting big game habitats from coast to coast.
With warmer temperatures and fewer hard freezes, ticks are thriving here in Maine. It’s not uncommon to find a moose in the wild with thousands of ticks on its body robbing it of blood. Furthermore, ticks lead to the loss of hair, exposing more of a moose’s body to the harsh weather. And it’s not just wildlife being targeted. Hunters are being exposed to more Lyme disease as deer ticks, the carriers of the disease, expand their range.
Our elected officials can help save America’s big game by supporting Environmental Protection Agency limits on carbon pollution from power plants, providing wildlife agencies with the support they need to create climate-smart conservation strategies, and managing big game populations with a changing climate in mind. The time to act is now.
In all of the developed civilized world there is only one country that does not provide adequate health care to all of its citizens regardless of their ability to pay. Yup, the good old USA. Why? Because of the likes of BDN columnist Susan Dench. There is a lot of money to be made on misery, sickness and death, and the likes of hyper capitalists like Dench will continue to do their utmost to see that this atrocity continues unabated.
The real nightmare
So, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, “Obamacare,” has been a nightmare. What a shame. But it will eventually be straightened out, so Mainers can have access to affordable health insurance – some for the first time. Surely it is more of a nightmare not to have insurance at all. Or to have insurance that is so costly your family members have to wonder what to cut out so they can afford it.
In Maine a family of two with one 32 year old and one 5 year old with an income of $35,000 could get insurance for as low as $125 per month. With “Obamacare,” a Maine family of four with an income of $50,000 year could get coverage for as little as $154 per month.
What a relief it will be to not have to worry about going bankrupt if a major illness rears its head. And what a relief to be able to afford it without bankrupting your family budget.
It’s easy to be impatient with all the technology that went wrong. But once the problems have been resolved, the outcome for Mainers will be enormously positive.
I was fortunate enough last Friday to see Il Divo at the new Cross center in Bangor with two of my friends, Mary Ann Condon and Patti Costigan. Through the years, we have all been to many different shows, mostly in Boston and New York City. I have to say that this show was by far the most wonderful experience that we three have ever seen in live entertainment.
The orchestra comprised approximately 25 talented men and women, and they were really superb. This event surpassed every show or play that we have seen anywhere. We all agreed that we would be willing to go the next night just to see them perform again.
In the last 10 years, this group has occasionally been on television, and we have seen them there, but we never imagined that they would ever come to Maine. “Excellent” does not describe how really great they were.
We would hope that we can look forward to more high-scale live entertainment coming to Bangor. When it does, the three of us will be right there.