March 18 Letters to the Editor

Posted March 17, 2010, at 4:48 p.m.

Fathers and facts

I am writing to thank BDN for its integrity in posting a critical correction to a March 8 story on child deaths. When solving any complex problem it is crucial to avoid lumping together unrelated categories with similar-sounding names, and that’s exactly the trap Monday’s story fell into.

“Fathers and father figures are most often the perpetrators of severe physical abuse of children that results in death,” it said, and “Mothers are the fourth-most-likely perpetrators and ‘well down on the list.’”

Had the BDN looked at its own list of under-18 Maine homicide victims, it would have found the data tell a very different story. Of the 10 adult-child cases listed, fully half of the killers were unrelated to the children, and thus would not be expected to have the protective emotional bond that most parents have with their children.

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In the list, killings by mothers and killings by fathers were

nearly equal. The three fathers were age 17-24 and their actions exhibited the sort of lack of impulse control that one would expect from an immature individual. The killings by the two mothers, age 41-43, suggest advance planning and clear intent — one was burned to death, one poisoned.

The three killings by fathers represent only 0.00089 percent of all Maine children. If Maine politicians were to press for laws that single out fathers for even more draconian treatment, the 99.99911 percent of Maine children with good, loving, protective fathers will be the ones who suffer.

Hopefully, BDN’s correction will help to head this off.

Mark Rosenthal

Respecting Accuracy In Domestic Abuse Reporting

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Respect pot vote

As a person who requires medicinal marijuana in order to live a productive life, I am completely outraged with the government here in Maine.

I worked hard back in the late 1990s to get our initial medicinal marijuana law passed. This law, in short, gave me the right to be a criminal to obtain needed medication. Then, in November of last year, the people of Maine overwhelmingly spoke, stating that this law was ridiculous without a system to provide a supply of the medication.

We, the people, directed our Legislature to provide a distribution process. Since then our attorney general, in her infinite wisdom, has stalled this whole process with committee meetings, to decide what committee meetings are appropriate. On top of this, we have had small-minded, small-town politicians, beginning with Brewer and most recently Lewiston and Auburn, trying further to stall this whole process with their local injunctions against implementing the will of their constituents.

I hope that the voters remember their callous disregard for their vote, when they are up for re-election.

Twelve years is long enough for this nonsense to go on. This is a viable medical treatment, and should be addressed as the people of Maine directed.

I urge the voters who overwhelmingly demanded that this treatment be effectively implemented to rise up and demand that their wishes be honored.

Almon W. Mitchell

Fayette

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On public option

I write to correct an error in Susan Goodwillie Stedman’s OpEd of March 13 on health care. She wrote: “We are the only industrialized, western society that doesn’t have universal health care — known here as the public option.”

The so-called “public option” is not “universal health care.” In fact, the “public option” never has been clearly defined. It began as an academic proposal from policy entrepreneur Jacob Hacker that would have included 130 million enrollees in a Medicare-style program. It ended as House legislation that would have covered 9 or 10 million, a number clearly insufficient to bring pressure to bear on the insurance companies, its ostensible rationale.

At all times, the public option was one component of the administration’s larger, market-based solution, and in no case was coverage ever universal; in some proposals, as many as 21 million people were left out.

Other countries have achieved truly universal coverage with the centrist single payer solution (Canada) or with fully socialized medicine (the UK), and achieved better health outcomes at half the per capita cost. In this country, the equivalent solution would be Medicare for all. I’m at a loss to understand how Stedman, who seems eminently qualified, could conflate the “public option” with universal coverage.

Sam Hunting

Orono

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