Saturday, May 10, 2014: Potholes, wind turbines in Maine, money as speech

Posted May 09, 2014, at 12:33 p.m.

Missing the point

The OpEd piece “Accused” on welfare fraud misses the point of what is wrong with the state’s so-called welfare system. While there are few reported fraud prosecutions, it is the abuse of the “benefits system” that we — who work and pay taxes to support those who don’t work and collect benefits — object to.

Statistics show that the number of people working is declining, resulting in fewer people paying for the system as liberals advocate for more enrollees. Ask any working person, especially in small towns, or ask any social service worker, and we all agree that we have seen considerable misuse of the system. We are always reminded by our supervisors and our agencies, backed up by state and federal confidentiality regulations, that if the “client” meets the qualifications, we cannot deny them the benefit.

We all know that there are those people who apply for every benefit possible, whether they could work or not. Those of us who have been around for a few decades see how welfare is perpetuated over generations in families and communities. While not fraud, it is abuse of a system that was meant to be a safety net in the America I grew up in — not a socialist “dole” for people to live off instead of working.

My grandfather was a farmer. On the back of his tractor was a bumper sticker that read: “I fight poverty — I work.” I say “bravo” to anyone willing to stand up and say “enough is enough” as Maine slowly slides down the skids to the classic welfare state that we who work cannot afford.

Peter Duston

Cherryfield

Great DC trip

I was a chaperone in April for the music department of Bangor High School, on a trip to Washington, D.C. The chorus was led by George Redman; the band was led by Scott Burditt; and orchestra was led by Bill Bell, who are great teachers, by the way. The group performed at the Reagan center and World War II monument and did lots of sightseeing. It was a trip of a lifetime for some.

Fundraising by Flo Pelkey, with lots of money from parents and grandparents, paid for this trip and eight chaperones. As an ex-youth leader, mother of five grown kids and grandmother of a band member, these 90 or more youth were well behaved and polite. Bangor High and parents should be proud. I received a thank you card from them. I want to say thanks back for such a surprisingly great trip.

Brenda Hussey

Glenburn

 

Wind projects

Maine has become more divided on the value and purpose of industrial wind projects. In the May 5 Wall Street Journal, there was an opinion piece about billionaire Warren Buffett and how he utilizes every legal tax break available in order to minimize Berkshire Hathaway’s tax payments.

One technique would appear to lend credence to those opposing industrial wind. When Buffett became more explicit about tax credits available to the wealthy and to large investment funds, he stated, “I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate. … For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

The piece continues, “Buffett says it makes no economic sense to build wind farms without a tax credit. … So political favors for the wind industry induce a leading U.S. company to misallocate its scarce investment dollars for an uneconomic purpose. Berkshire and its billionaire shareholder get a tax break, and the feds get less revenue, which must be made up by raising tax rates on millions of other Americans who are much less well-heeled than Buffett.”

Our stimulus funds gave $21 billion to renewable energy projects. And Big Wind can auction off Renewable Energy Credits allowing out-of-state polluters to continue polluting because they have “green” credits.

Should we continue to sacrifice our natural assets for this?

Peter Fisher

Lakeville

 

Money in Maine politics

Aroostook and Washington counties, and northern Penobscot, are rural, sparsely populated and struggling to survive and maintain what is left of our pristine environment and our quality of life, which in many ways should be a role model, not a way station to be ignored by Augusta and southern Maine, as we often are.

We have the makings of a truly sustainable economy here. Increasing numbers of organic farmers show the way to improving citizens’ health, which corporate food producers have been undermining for many decades. Forests, wild lands and wildlife provide a quality of life necessary for personal happiness of local residents, travelers and tourists. These resources need and deserve public support and protection from corporate destruction.

The definition of a corporation as a person and money as speech is a travesty of justice. Individuals must speak louder. Our best megaphones are informed voices: private speech, one-to-one in homes and neighborhoods; public speech in town halls and other public meetings; letters to the editor; and votes for what is best for northern Maine.

Ask candidates where their campaign funds come from; what kind of obligation they will owe to funders; if they will support campaign finance reform to restore the democratic principle of one person, one vote; and if they will support the protection and restoration of natural resources in northern Maine.

Don’t let our fate be determined by those who will use up our most valuable resources and take their profits elsewhere.

Alice Bolstridge

Presque Isle

Nasty potholes

We are currently in pothole season. I have came across some very nasty potholes, especially ones right where you are turning that are almost impossible to miss. Thinking about it, the highway doesn’t get like this, but all our streets do, year after year.

I believe they should use the same quality of road material that they do on the highway on all the roads. Each year our tax dollars go to repair roads, and we have to deal with construction and pothole hell after the winter. Yes, it would be more money to actually do the job at one time, but it would be less costly in the years to come.

Jessica Paradis

Bangor

 

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