January 17, 2018
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Monday, April 10, 2017: Make Medicare universal, climate change will make us dumber, Trump’s policies will cost us

Climate change will make us dumber

Whether you are a climate change denier, believer, or simply curious about climate, measurable facts demonstrate that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, the cause of warming, have skyrocketed, since the beginning of the 20th century, to levels never before breathed in by humans. Currently, these levels are predicted to rapidly climb much higher if we continue to burn fossil fuels.

Individuals can say, “So what, I enjoy warm weather!” or “Sea level rise is of no concern to me. I don’t own any shoreline property!” But it is becoming clear that CO2 has an insidious consequence for our health. Two recent well-documented studies, the latest by Harvard University’s School of Public Health, report that CO2 has a direct and worrying negative impact on our mental capabilities.

One example of this is the decline our “decision making” abilities. Atmospheric CO2 has now risen to more than 400 parts per million and continues to increase. Humans, tested at 600 parts per million, showed a significant drop in overall thinking ability, which predictability will worsen as CO2 continues to climb rapidly toward 1,000 parts per million. In other words, humans are now being “dumbed down.” Our mental abilities will worsen with the continuing rise of CO2.

Think about this. This predicted rise in CO2 is now, and will continue, to affect you and your family’s future in very negative ways.

But we know that the simple solution to this problem is to lower atmospheric CO2 by maintaining and increasing our progress to reduce the burning of fossil fuels. It is all up to us, if we choose.

Harold W. Borns Jr.


Indoor tanning increases cancer risk

Like many Mainers, I’ve been looking for ways to warm up and escape the winter weather, but as a melanoma survivor, one option I’ll never consider again is indoor tanning.

The bad news is that not everyone knows the facts about the danger of indoor tanning. The good news is that, here in Maine, we have the chance to change that. A bill — LD 889 — before the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee would prohibit access to cancer-causing UV indoor tanning devices by minors under the age of 18.

I can speak from my personal experience when I say that teenagers do not have the capability, or desire, to delay our instant gratification. Something is always more important in the moment. And this is true when a teenager makes a decision of whether or not to use an indoor tanning device.

The fact is that using a tanning device before age 35 increases an individual’s lifetime risk of melanoma by 59 percent. Passing LD 889 will put safeguards in place to prevent our children from increasing the likelihood they will follow in my footsteps as a melanoma survivor.

I urge lawmakers to support this legislation when it comes to a vote, and in doing so, help protect other Mainers from hearing those words I did: “you have cancer.”

Sarah Gahagan


American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network


Making space for Susan Rice

Congratulations! The BDN’s five column inches on page A2 in the Thursday edition of the paper about the allegation that Susan Rice, a former adviser for President Barack Obama, committed a crime by seeking the identities of Donald Trump associates mentioned in intercepted communications is more than I expected. If the roles were reversed and Obama was president, the headline above the fold on page A1 would have been five column inches.

John Shaw


Make Medicare universal

Single-payer health care has been referred to as Medicare for all. Polls show that 58 percent of us support it. Given the current circumstances, maybe even more people will be taking a look.

All other developed countries finance their health care, either directly or indirectly. At half our cost, they have better health outcomes and patient satisfaction.

While the Affordable Care Act was unsuccessful at reining costs in, it’s not the cause of rising premiums, as some suggest.

Administrative overhead is 30 percent of total medical costs for those with private insurance. It is only 2 percent for those with Medicare. And most people who have traditional Medicare like it. They get to choose their provider and have stable, reasonable copays and deductibles.

Insuring everyone with Medicare would save more than $500 billion per year. It would eliminate wasteful bureaucracy — something business is usually credited with doing — by shifting back toward more government control. Medicare is 50 years of proof that it will.

Negotiating drug prices with pharmaceutical companies would replace the expensive Medicare Part D and eliminate drug price gouging. Insuring everyone lowers overall costs — it is very expensive to treat people who delay care until they become seriously ill — and we would no longer have to worry about neighbors or relatives unable to afford needed health care.

Bob Lodato


Trump policies will cost us

All life seeks to maximize profit and pleasure, and it is the job of governments to accomplish that for their citizens. Yet, the rub is that short-term gain is often contrary to long-term gain, and President Donald Trump’s life has to this point been devoted to the former. His policies, and his followers, are therefore skewed toward immediate reward rather than sound, sustainable goals.

In the case of health care, it’s been widely acknowledged that Trump’s repeal-and-replace plans might foster more “competition,” leading to lower costs for some, but millions fewer would be insured, meaning they would be sicker in the long run. And who pays for them then?

Trump’s economic ideas, centered on tax cuts that would disproportionately benefit the rich, may be good for investors as stock prices rise right away, but in real-dollar terms, those on lower financial tiers will have little more in spending power, so the overall economy is likely to sputter.

The administration’s trade policies, with heavy taxes on imports, are likely to ignite similar moves by other nations, meaning higher prices for U.S. consumers and fewer exports. There also may be more domestic jobs, but higher labor costs will result in less consumption.

Trump and his legions may want to wipe out all vestiges of the Obama years by making gains for the few. In the process, we may well be the losers in the long run.

Steve Colhoun



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