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Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017: Estate tax repeal favors wealthy, health care is a right, treat needy with dignity

Honored to return to council

I would like to take a moment to thank the people of Bangor for electing me to a third term on the Bangor City Council. I consider being a Bangor city councilor to be a great honor, and the trust and confidence the people of Bangor have placed in me are not things I take lightly.

I also want to congratulate Clare Davitt and Laura Supica on their successful campaigns and thank fellow candidates Andrew Bennett, Seth Braun and Steve Harrison for stepping up to run for local office.

I want to recognize Joe Baldacci and Sean Faircloth for the successful completion of their terms serving the city of Bangor. The name Baldacci is synonymous with politics in Bangor, and Joe Baldacci and his family have given immense time, energy and passion to this city and its people over many years. In his term on the City Council, Faircloth helped spearhead numerous successful projects, including Energy Smart Bangor and the Innovative Neighborhoods program. I have learned a great deal from each of them, and I’m grateful for their service.

If anyone has any questions or concerns for me as a city councilor, I encourage them to reach out by emailing me at benjamin.sprague@bangormaine.gov, calling me at 852-1405, or sending me a message through Facebook or Twitter. Again, I thank the voters of Bangor for the opportunity to serve as your city councilor. I’m excited about the years ahead.

Ben Sprague

City councilor

Bangor

Treat needy with dignity

Six long days without power. The city of Bangor offered food vouchers for those who lost power during the Oct. 30 windstorm. I was greeted by an intake person and waited. Then I provided proof of address and residency in another office. This should have been enough.

I was asked for my name, address, and phone and Social Security numbers. Do you own or rent? Do you owe on your home? How many bedrooms? Seriously? I was so uncomfortable I felt like I was being strip searched for doing no crime.

Take a seat again. In another office, I asked if it would take more than 10 minutes. Yes, of course. I already had 20 minutes invested in this strip search ordeal of victimizing me. Yes, I work two jobs, seven days a week. I haven’t had a vacation in 25 years.

I left after being totally humiliated and without a food voucher. The one time only food voucher would have been for a whopping $44. I couldn’t stay and will never go back.

It’s the same no matter where you go for help. I would rather eat spoiled food, freeze and go hungry than let any evil organizations violate me, treat me like I’m a lazy criminal and have to sell my soul, time and dignity for their measly few bucks.

How about treating people with dignity while they are alive and trying to survive? This is the only industrialized nation that treats people in need as if they were all lazy criminals.

Kelley Hashey

Bangor

Estate tax repeal favors wealthy

President Donald Trump commented that the Affordable Care Act repeal bill passed by the House in May was “ mean” and he would like to see more “heart.” He should say the same about tax cuts now before Congress, which will overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest Americans.

Especially benefiting the rich is repeal of the federal estate tax, currently paid by few estates nationwide. The existing tax applies when individuals die with assets over $5.49 million or couples with almost $11 million, and the tax is calculated only on the value of the estate over those amounts.

Sometimes the estate tax is called a “death tax” to make it sound dreadful. Bad enough to die, let alone to pay taxes, too. But most Americans die tax free under existing tax law, and most estates owe no inheritance tax.

Americans in the lower 99 percent will be hurt by repeal of the estate tax because of the loss of $269 billion in federal funds over 10 years and consequent cuts to social and infrastructure expenditures. Another harm is to our democracy.

Theodore Roosevelt recommended a tax on inheritance of wealth to preserve equal opportunity and to limit “swollen fortunes for the few.” First adopted in 1913, the federal estate tax is a fundamentally American idea to prevent extreme wealth inequality. As Justice Louis Brandeis once noted, “We can have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few or we can have democracy. But we cannot have both.”

Marilee Lovit

Addison

Health care is a right

The United States spends more on health care than any other nation, yet it doesn’t bring better health outcomes.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S. spends $9,451 per capita on health care, while the other countries such as Italy ($3,272) and France ($4,407) spend less per person. Even though they spend less per person, both Italy and France have a better life expectancy at birth than the United States, which falls near the end of the spectrum. We may spend more, but it’s not benefiting us.

A solution has to be made. Looking at other countries, universal health care seems the way to go, preferably a single-payer health care system that means that all residents are covered under one insurance company. Out of the most wealthiest countries in the world, the United States is the only country that doesn’t have universal health care. The goal of universal health care would be to provide people without insurance an opportunity to get the health care they need and deserve.

Health care should not be a privilege, it should be a right. Health is a basic human right that we all need in order to go to work and school. How can we do our job and get an education if we are not physically well? If people are severely ill with measles, for example, and don’t have insurance, then they risk the chance of dying. They are concerned with the expensive bill rather than their health. That’s not right.

Jojo Tifiano

Portland

 


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