LETTERS

Saturday, March 29, 2014: Term limits, Hiram Maxim, FDA spent grains rule

Posted March 28, 2014, at 11:21 a.m.

Term limits

The League of Women Voters could not be more pleased to find an ally in Gov. Paul LePage for the repeal of legislative term limits.

By disqualifying legislators who have gained skill through experience, term limits dilute the effective performance of the Legislature and weaken the Legislature’s role in crafting sound policy solutions to complex problems.

Because term-limited legislators want to act quickly on their priority issues, they are more likely to focus on short-term, urgent topics, rather than complex, long-term issues.

Without experience and knowledge of what has occurred in the past, legislators raise many of the same ideas over and over, so while term limits have diluted the capability of the Legislature, they have simultaneously increased the workload.

By decreasing the institutional memory of the Legislature, term limits have upset the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches. Policy expertise that once was held by legislative committees has been ceded to executive branch department heads and partisan professional staff.

The state of Maine faces many difficult and complex issues in public policy, and its citizens need the best, most capable legislators to represent them.

The citizens’ initiative process is not infallible. When term limits passed in 1993, legislative turnover was already pretty high in Maine. Now, with 20 years of experience under term limits, it is obvious that the unintended consequences demand serious attention and remedy.

It is time to throw term limits out the window.

Ann Luther

Advocacy Chair

League of Women Voters of Maine

Trenton

Genes inherited

The March 23 BDN cover story on Maine State Science Fair winner Dmitri Maxim credits genes inherited from Hiram Maxim as partial reason for the ingenuity of Dmitri, his great-great-grandson. I assume the younger Maxim descends from the youngest son of the Maine/British inventor, as he was the only one not to join his father in moving to England, where he was knighted for the invention of the portable machine gun at the end of the 19th century.

Maxim deserves credit for far more than the invention of this early weapon of mass destruction that inflicted unheard of casualties in World War I after field testing by the British in the Sudan and the Boer War in South Africa. Far lesser feats included a high-capacity mouse trap, a curling iron and, my favorite, an improved winnowing machine for separating chaff from grain. (The Skinner Settlement of Corinth donated one of these to the Page Farm and Home Museum in Orono).

Much loftier inventions by Maxim, a Sangerville native, were a filament for incandescent bulbs (Edison appropriated his patent), a flying machine devised well before the Wright brothers and many others. Indeed, Maxim ranks with the towering inventive geniuses at the flowering of the industrial revolution, both in America and in his adopted land of Great Britain. Maine should be proud of this native son for much more than his deadly machine gun.

James Wagner

Sorrento

Food safety

Isn’t that something, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is going to interfere with two businesses that have been working well and safely with each other for years. The byproduct of the brewing industry (spent grains) is used by farmers to feed their cattle. The farmers get free feed, and the brewers get rid of a byproduct without cost.

The FDA wants the brewers and farmers to spend a large amount of money to “ensure the safety of animal foods, and have plans that identify hazards, and monitor and record the safety of the feed.”

The FDA says it’s OK, though, to load our animals with antibiotics and artificial growth hormones and to allow arsenic in chicken feed (for what purpose, I don’t know). It’s OK to have animals (for our consumption) spend their entire lives in cages and never see the light of day. What used to take five months to grow a chicken now takes five weeks. How is that done?

We may think our tax dollars are funding the FDA to protect our food and drug supply, but most of the money comes from the drug and food industries themselves. The FDA will always rule in their favor and not for the safety of people or animals. I hope there’s enough of an outcry to put a stop to this new ruling.

Wouldn’t it be great if the FDA would really work for us and ensure our food safety by challenging the misuse of technologies, such as genetic engineering of our crops and foods, which put our food and health at risk?

Marc Chasse

Fort Kent

Team respect

Following the March 18 OpEd from Ed Rice, Jerry Bono made a comment in his March 26 letter to the editor that “Choosing the name Indians is a point of honor and pride in associating with an entity that they admire.” How is it honorable when so many find the name disgraceful?

It was stated in the letter that the names of many professional teams were chosen in part to instill fear in the opponents. Does this mean that Native Americans are to be feared? Perhaps this is why it’s not as honorable as some might think. So maybe a change in mascot isn’t such a bad idea.

And also, a team name doesn’t have to be intimidating to make the team intimidating. Take the Ohio State Buckeyes or the Miami Heat for example. Nuts and warm weather don’t instill fear in most people. Heck, a lot of people would love some heat after all the snow this winter, but it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be intimidated playing one-on-one with LeBron James.

It shows at the high school level as well. Not many names are less intimidating than Ponies or Pandas, but few teams have wanted to face Foxcroft Academy on the football field or Lee Academy on the basketball court the last few years.

A name can’t make a team gain respect, but it can make a team lose it.

Jared MacDonald

Dexter

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