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June 16, 2009 Letters to the Editor

Not-so-sweet tax

I was extremely disappointed when the Legislature passed its so-called tax reform proposal last week that includes, among other new taxes, a 70 percent increase in the tax on candy. As the owner of Sweet Stuff, which has been located in the Bangor Mall for 22 years, I would like your readers to know how disastrous this tax will be to my business.

Maine people already pay $5.5 million every year in taxes on candy at the current 5 percent sales tax. Evidently, that’s not enough. The new candy tax will be 8.5 percent. No other food item is taxed that high, and no other state taxes candy that much.

Candy makers are already at a disadvantage compared to baked items like cakes and cookies because they’re not taxed at all. Unbelievably, this “tax reform” proposal only makes the gap worse. That’s a challenge for any business when times are good; it’s especially tough in these times.

And if that isn’t enough, the new candy tax gets even more confusing.

The new bill exempts products containing flour from the tax, so figuring out what is and is not taxable will be virtually impossible. Hershey Bars are taxed; Twix Bars are not; Midnight Milky Way Bars are taxed; original Milky Way Bars are not; jelly beans are taxed; licorice is not taxed.

The governor should instead encourage the Legislature to design a tax relief plan that we can all support.

Jean H. Brown

owner, Sweet Stuff

Bangor Mall


Single-payer argument

An interesting OpEd piece on the American health care system was in the BDN’s June 3 edition written by Ike Morgan. It is hard to disagree that our medical system is the envy of the rest of the world. But that is beside the point. Our medical system is not the problem. Our method of administering this system is where the trouble lies.

We pay more than twice what the rest of the industrialized nations pay due largely to administrative waste and the insurance-drug company profit margins. Running the public Medicare or the veterans administration systems have an administrative cost ratio of around 3 percent. Compare this to the 30 percent of the privately run insurance-drug company systems. Our problem has nothing to do with how much the triple bypass costs but how many administrators, analysts, statisticians or secretaries it takes to get that procedure done.

The salaries of the top-level people in Medicare or the VA system pale in comparison with what we pay for the mansions, private jets and bonuses of the top administrators of the insurance and pharmaceutical businesses. Is what they do all that much harder than the work of their government paid counterparts?

Approximately 70 percent of citizens and 59 percent of doctors polled would prefer a single-payer system. It is time for changes to be made in our health care. Keep the quality of medical care high but reduce the costs of administration.

Al Larson



Single-payer, now

The United States needs to join the developed nations of the world and adopt a single-payer health care system. Our government needs to side with the people on this and say no to the greed of insurance companies and drug manufacturers.

When Americans get sick or have an accident, they should not also be dealing with payment worries. They should not be working at jobs they hate in order to be covered if they need health care. They should not have to choose between the costs of drugs and other basic needs. Such scenarios are unthinkable in Canada, England or France because those countries have single-payer health care systems.

Health insurance companies and drug manufacturers have ripped us off long enough. It’s time for Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and Rep. Mike Michaud to pull the plug on their immoral profits.

Peter Beckford



Cost to Milbridge

The BDN editorial “Milbridge Welcome Mat” leaves out the most important reason many Milbridge residents are concerned with the grant for building a multifamily apartment complex for migrant workers. The grant makes no provision for paying a property tax of sufficient amount to offset the added cost of this project to the residents of the town.

The average age of Milbridge taxpayers is 62 which means a number of them are retires and-or on a fixed income. It is believed that 45 percent of our residents are close to the poverty level.

The proposed house would have 15 bedrooms of which nine could hold two children each within the federal law. This would make a possible 18 children of whom a number would certainly be old enough to go to Milbridge schools. For each child sent to school there would be a cost of $3,951 to the state and another $5,927 cost to Milbridge. There are 1,309 Milbridge taxpayers, the $5,927 would cost each taxpayer $4.53 per year.

This is not an assessment on property or income but an actual dollar amount to be paid by the town out of the pocket of every resident.

The editorial’s explanation of the different races in our country is accurate. Our experience with Hispanics has many of us knowing they are good people. We do not blame them for wanting to leave the terrible condition of their home country to come live in the United States. Many of us have no objection to their being our good neighbors.

However, we do believe the grantors should pay the added cost.

Doug McKay



For smaller legislature

Why is it that when the state needs to make budget cuts it always starts at the bottom and works upward? Why not cut what the state does not need? I’m speaking of the 150-plus members of the House. If we can make do with 35 senators why can’t we make do with, say, 75 House members? Just think of how much money that would save per year plus the fact that with less people maybe productivity could be increased because of less bickering.

Quit taking it out on all the people who actually do have to get their hands dirty.

John Clark



Bambi wonders

Gerry Lavigne is saying if you want to kill more deer in Maine, you’ve got to kill more coyotes. (“Coyote numbers pressure deer hunters,” BDN, June 11.)

Bambi is asking, what’s in it for me? (Wily is keeping a low profile.)

Willard Morse


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