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Letters to the editor March 25, 2011


Enemy of unions

In 1933, when Adolf Hitler became the outright ruler of Germany, the first thing he did was outlaw labor unions. Could that ever happen here? Anything could happen here.

George Michaud

East Millinocket

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Facebook LePage

There is a saying that some people “make up their minds and refuse to be swayed by the facts.” That description fits Maine’s governor.

Recently, he presented a budget to the legislature and announced that, no matter what facts they offered to justify changes in the budget, he will veto it. Last week, he stated emphatically that he still advocates nuclear power, he won’t be swayed by any facts that follow from Japan. Also, a few weeks ago he went to the White House governors’ conference and typed at his computer, back to President Obama as he spoke, ignoring whatever facts the president presented. (See AP photo in the March 1 BDN. Twenty-plus other governors in the photo are facing the president.)

Even before that conference, Maine’s governor used spoken language to express his disdain for the president. Why did he spend thousands of taxpayer dollars to go to D.C. with his staff to express that disdain using body language? And all the while, the governor claims he is trying  to reduce costs for Maine citizens.

Possibly, the governor derived some benefit from communicating with other governors at the conference, but given the fact that he turned his back on the president, I suspect he also ignored all Democratic governors. Why didn’t Maine’s governor stay in Augusta and eliminate travel expenses by communicating with governors of his own political persuasion via the same means reportedly being used very effectively in the Middle East: Facebook.

Fern Stearns


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Crowing, not solving

My initial reaction to Larry Lockman’s “Maine can head off mob action of union supporters” was one of sadness. Pitting state workers and private sector workers as adversaries is hardly a way to solve Maine’s budgetary problems. His diatribe was doubly offensive to his focused targets — i.e. unions, state workers, teachers and retirees.

His first offense is to label those public sector workers as “them” and private sector workers as “us.” By pitting the “us” (taxpayers) against “them” (state workers), Lockman assumes the readership will swallow this tired slogan.

We all are taxpayers. As a 76-year-old retired teacher, I file a tax report annually and hope my math is accurate and honest. The only tax loopholes teachers have are their pride in their profession and their dedication to teaching students with or without genius aptitude.

Second, Lockman blames teacher’s unions for “having a stranglehold on education policy” and being responsible for protecting teacher tenure, blocking merit pay, making it impossible to reward great teachers and failing to weed out the bad teachers. Lest we forget, teachers don’t hire teachers and teachers don’t fire teachers. School administration has always had that task.

As Lockman points his finger of blame at unions, state workers, teachers and retirees, he is doing nothing more than crowing for attention and offering few solutions. George Eliot said it more elegantly: “He was like a cock who thought the sun had risen to hear him crow.”

Elizabeth Jalbert Pecoraro

Fort Kent

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State jobs don’t pay more

State employees do not make more money than comparable employees in the private sector. Please don’t accept statements that they do without checking the facts.

There is a 2009 labor market survey by Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services which clearly shows that Maine state employees consistently earn lower hourly wages than Maine private sector employees in comparable jobs.

A large and varied sample of jobs in the Maine private sector is used, the employers participating are named, education and experience requirements for the jobs were compared and job descriptions were examined. Comparisons of hourly wages by job classification are shown, as are hourly wages for identical private sector and state jobs at the same experience level and the percent of difference between private and state wages.

State salaries are almost always lower than comparable private sector salaries, many of them around 20 percent lower, and some lower by 30 percent or more. You can download the study at the link at the bottom of this Web page: mecep.org/view.asp?news=1420.

The only accurate wage comparison is between identical or almost identical jobs requiring the same level of education and experience. This study is based on that kind of information.

Jane Edwards

retired deputy state law librarian


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Cheers for Medicare

I am writing to thank those citizens who have contributed their hard-earned money and given their political support to the Medicare program.

Last year at this time, I was diagnosed with two potentially fatal conditions, both of which are treatable with surgery. Thankfully, I am enrolled in the Medicare program. As a result, I was able to get the medical care and the surgeries I needed. I was able to choose the time, place and providers of this care.

Because the facilities and care providers I choose all accept Medicare funding, I was confident that they had been assessed and found to provide safe and competent care. Medicare paid more than $32,000 for the care I received. Fortunately I did not have to deplete my retirement savings or burden my family financially to save my life.

With my restored health, I hope to be able to combat the misinformation that was spread about Medicare during the recent health care reform debate. Additionally, I hope to see the day when all Americans have health insurance coverage comparable to what I have. I intend to do whatever I can to make that day come sooner rather than later.

Sue Davis


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Sick of U.S. policy

Has anyone thought of a reason why we’re bombing Libya, other than we don’t like Gaddafhi and no one is big enough to stop us?

If any other country bombed us because they don’t like our president, we would instantly be at war with them. Where do we get the right to bomb a country just because we don’t like its leadership? And why do we expect a new government in Libya would be any better? They have no democratic tradition, so almost certainly it would be a new dictator replacing the old.

If we’re going to bomb Libya, why not North Korea and Iran among others? Answer: They might fight back.

I though Obama was supposed to be a lover of peace — he got the Nobel Peace Prize. But now he’s risking a third war to go with Iraq and Afghanistan, where casualties continue.

Our foreign policy makes me sick. I don’t like being hated by foreigners, and we’re giving them plenty of reason to hate us.

Lawrence E. Merrill


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