LETTERS

Wednesday, June 10, 2015: Welfare work requirement, finding common ground

Posted June 09, 2015, at 2:49 p.m.

Work for benefits

Rep. Scott Hamann’s June 5 BDN OpEd promoting his bill to roll back Gov. Paul LePage’s welfare work requirement left out critical facts about what the requirement is and who it affects.

The LePage policy affects only able-bodied, 18- to 49-year-old adults without any dependents. And the onerous requirement Hamann is trying to save these individuals from? Either work 20 hours per week, volunteer about an hour per day somewhere in your community, or undergo state-funded vocational training if you want to keep your food stamp benefits beyond three months.

This policy simply says that if you’re young and able to work, and you don’t have children to look after, then you ought to enter the workforce or position yourself to do so by volunteering or developing vocational skills.

Hamann assumes that rural Mainers can’t or won’t meet these simple requirements. The fact is, our data at the Department of Health and Human Services shows that people in rural Maine have actually been complying with this new policy at a higher rate than those in urban or southern Maine.

Hamann and the House Democrats who voted for this bill on party lines are woefully out of touch in their beliefs about what will really help Mainers become self-sufficient. Mainers are tired of decades of generous welfare policies that have no expectations of personal responsibility.

LePage actually believes in the potential of the individual, while Democrats in Augusta continue to promote the failed policies of the past that trap people in poverty and increased dependency on government programs.

Mary C. Mayhew, Commissioner

Maine Department of Health and Human Services

Augusta

Common ground

Once again Gov. Paul LePage is trying to force his agenda with the threat of his legendary veto power. I suggest he read Olympia Snowe’s book, “ Fighting for Common Ground.” This highly respected former congresswoman speaks avidly of the value of compromise and the blatant inability to do so that causes such dysfunction in our beloved state and country.

I have lived in Maine my entire life paying various taxes. If the income tax provides half the state revenue, let’s keep it viable. Eliminating income tax and increasing sales tax for goods and services is not tax reform but tax shift. With decreased revenue sharing for towns and less money allocated for schools, property tax will increase. This will be a hardship for seniors and discouraging for young families.

Becoming a right-to-work state is another platform of our governor saying people should not have to pay to work. Believe it or not, they do not have to; they can work for a non-union establishment. Could they possibly be choosing a unionized facility because they receive higher wages, safer environments and increased worker protection. We pay dues for various organizations; why the shouldn’t we pay for collective bargaining rights that benefit our working environment?

LePage vetoed the decal for young drivers because he felt they could become targets for criminals. He, however, supports less handgun regulation and offered up an emergency bill to allow liquor establishments to stay open until 2 a.m. Does his thought process confuse anyone else or is it just me?

Sharon Fields

Frankfort

School funding

Saturday’s BDN carried two items in an interesting juxtaposition. The first had to do with the purchase by our military of 80 to 100 new long-range B-2 bombers with a price tag of $50 billion to $80 billion. The second was a letter by a senior citizen on a fixed income (who isn’t?) complaining of the cost of educating our children. Teachers are paid too much for working only 180 days per year, etc. These are the same complaints voiced regarding school funding when I served on the school board of a district in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula 40 years ago.

I am reminded of two quotations. The first, attributed to Lee Iacocca, said: “In a perfect world, the best of us would be teachers; the rest of us would have to find something else to do.” The second is on a bumper sticker that says: “It will be a great day when schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale in order to buy a bomber.”

Bruce Steinfeldt

Belfast

Carbon tax

I enjoyed a March BDN article about Maine’s maple industry. I share Gov. Paul LePage’s appreciation of such a fine Maine product. Unfortunately, the governor’s stand on fossil-fuel related issues has not been conducive to the longevity of the maple industry. Did you know that it is projected that by midcentury, maple tree habitat will be significantly reduced because of a warming climate.

Fans of Maine maple syrup should take heed to do everything possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The governor, if he truly wants his descendants to enjoy Maine maple products, should not be supporting offshore drilling, facilitating tar sands oil extraction and distribution, or promoting any other endeavor that supports more consumption of fossil fuels. Rather, he ought to be promoting energy conservation, efficiency and renewable energy alternatives, as well as supporting communities who take a stand against our addiction to fossil fuels, as Portland and South Portland recently did.

Lobsters and shrimp are in the same boat, so to speak. The warming and increasing acidity of Maine’s oceans from atmospheric carbon dioxide threatens the future of those industries. We all must do what we can on a personal and local level.

On a larger scale, a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend (with all the revenue returned to the citizens directly) is likely to be the most effective and expedient way to reduce our carbon emissions.

Paul Potvin

Greenville Junction

Deflategate

Is it an indictment of Tom Brady and the Patriots or the NFL’s rules and procedures? Name me another sport where both teams don’t use the same ball. First of all, both teams should use the same ball. Second, the game balls should be supplied by the NFL and kept under the supervision of the officials. And third, a device could easily be designed and built that could be used to check the compressibility of the ball before and after each play. The NFL has found fault with Brady and the Patriots, but have they looked at their own faults?

Fred Otto

Orono

 

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