LETTERS

Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014: Extending unemployment benefits, Fox Hill, Afghanistan withdrawal

Posted Jan. 31, 2014, at 11:29 a.m.

Extend unemployment

For laid-off workers who are searching but unable to find a job, unemployment insurance benefits are an absolute lifeline. For job seekers, this money means being able to put food on your table or pay your mortgage. It means a world of hope to people who lost their job through no fault of their own and are just trying to stay afloat.

Yet Congress is stalling and has failed to extend the unemployment insurance benefits for the long-term unemployed. I can’t for the life of me understand what they’re thinking as they cut struggling families from their means of basic survival.

The economy is still trying to recover from the great recession, and many are still looking for work. These are our family, friends and neighbors. They want to work, but they simply cannot find jobs.

In the first six months of 2014, 8,900 unemployed workers in Maine will lose their unemployment benefits because the Senate won’t pass the extension. This has an impact on their lives but also on all of us, because those are dollars to be spent right here in our local communities.

As a paper millworker, I understand how fragile the security of a paycheck can be. I’ve watched my fellow workers lose their jobs right here in Lincoln. Anything can happen, to any of us, and we could also need unemployment insurance to get us through.

Sen. Susan Collins was a leader in recently securing Trade Adjustment Assistance for the laid-off workers in Lincoln. We know she understands the hardship and insecurity families go through.

I hope Collins will do the right thing and support the extension, plain and simple. Maine job seekers desperately need her support now.

Jim Sutherland

Lincoln

Do the right thing

Our town is a democracy; we elected the selectmen to represent us. As elected representatives, it’s their job to make a determination about what is best for all of Camden.

It is not fair or democratic to subject a minority of people, who would be immediately and irreparably affected by the Fox Hill proposal, to a popular vote. The majority of Camden’s residents probably do not realize the far-reaching implications of their vote, may not have given the matter much thought and can easily be manipulated by outside investors making grand campaign promises.

Moreover, how could selectmen possibly expect residents to have a solid understanding of more than 400 pages of comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances, and 72 lines of changes to our coastal residential zone ordinance — when even the lawyers on both sides are struggling to grasp and explain them?

The average resident hasn’t and won’t ever take the time to learn what is in our approved zoning, let alone the far-reaching implications of this rather dramatic proposed change. That’s the selectmen’s job.

The buck stops with the five elected representatives — I’m confident they’ll all do the right thing and reject this proposal.

Parker S. Laite Sr.

Camden

Withdrawal plans

It is a curious paradox that while our safety net at home is shredding — unemployment insurance payments terminated for more than a million, and food stamps plus other aid for the poor cut or threatened — American leaders are ever more determined to continue pouring money down the black hole that is Afghanistan.

Most Americans would be relieved if the planned pullout for American forces were completed this year. Yet the American military supported by the administration is pushing a “bilateral security agreement” with Afghanistan that would continue American presence in that country for at least 10 more years. This in spite of the fact that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has often characterized “American intransigence” as the main obstacle to peace.

“If the U.S. is not willing to accept our conditions, they can leave anytime and we will continue our lives,” he recently declared.

Indeed, American military presence in Afghanistan is arguably a driving force for inciting hatred for America and energizing terrorists in the Middle East.

Far better that the U.S. withdraw as planned and devote the billions saved to helping needy Americans.

Gene Clifford

Mount Desert

 

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