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Saturday/Sunday, Jan. 14-15, 2012: Raw milk, welfare and distracted driving


Let Farmer Brown pay

There is a clear way for “Farmer Brown” and his raw milk-drinking supporters to have their way, and for the general public health to be protected at the same time.

Farmer Brown and similar farmers who want to sell uninspected raw milk, should be asked to post a bond approved by the state. This bond would ensure that, if health issues arise from drinking raw milk, all medical, hospital and drug costs are covered by Farmer Brown — and that absolutely none of those costs are covered by MaineCare, Medicare or local hospitals.

Likewise, as a backup those who wish to buy and consume such milk should be asked to sign a simple affidavit, affirming that they will be responsible for paying all such costs should the need arise, thus not putting MaineCare or Medicare or local health providers at financial risk.

If people want to put their health in jeopardy, like those who ride motorcycles without helmets, they should be allowed to do so. But those of us who don’t take that path should not be required to help subsidize their health care costs.

If raw milk is as safe as the current public relations/political campaign would have us believe, the financial risks taken by Farmer Brown and his customers under this system should be virtually nil. Otherwise, the question is, why should health care systems in Maine subsidize potentially dangerous habits like drinking raw milk?

John Edwards


Welfare and working poor

It’s easy to twist statistics — just how many filers who didn’t pay income tax are retired, unemployed or “working poor”?

If a working person doesn’t make enough to pay income taxes, they are still working. The governor should be encouraging workers instead of saying they are “on welfare” because they qualify for food stamps.

MaineCare for the working poor is an investment in the future of this state — we need to be healthy to work. The governor should be finding ways to encourage people to work the jobs without benefits that seem to be the only work available.

He needs to stop serving corporate interests and find out why people stay on “welfare” instead of working. I think he will find that available jobs don’t pay enough for gas to travel, day care and living expenses. There should be no such phrase as “working poor” but that defines many of the “nontaxpayers” in this state.

We are the oldest state in the union, many of the “nontaxpayers” are retirees collecting Social Security (known as welfare to the tea party). Retirees who worked their entire lives contributing to the economy deserve to live. If Social Security pays less than what it costs to live, then retirees deserve the food stamps and heating assistance they get.

Corporate America should be paying back those who gave their blood, sweat and tears to make the 1 percent richer. Instead, many can be categorized as “nontaxpayers.”

Donna Twombly


Indeterminate sex

If the family in Orland looks for their cow (BDN, Jan 10), they must be raising a hermaphrodite! Let’s hope that someone steers them in the right direction and gives them no bull. Perhaps the perpetrator who took off with that animal has in mind that he/she will get rich showing off that most interesting bovine!

Dana Allison


Safe driving prognosis

Marijuana “causes” devastating addictions. We make it illegal. Underage drinking “causes” drunk driving. We make it illegal. Driving while texting “causes” crashes (making “driving” the subject of that now cliched sentence doesn’t help). We make that illegal, too.

Marijuana consumption has not decreased. Drunk and distracted driving still cause crashes regularly. What’s wrong? Are the police not vigilant enough? How do they become more vigilant? More hours, perhaps? More officers? Fewer restrictions on search and seizure? There’s nothing law enforcement can do to prevent adolescents from driving unsafely, partly because there’s no way to become measurably more vigilant.

The more important lesson, though, is that simply making illegal a dangerous activity doesn’t work. Adults still make campfires without permits and set off fireworks they once had to buy across state lines. Similarly, laws don’t scare adolescents into complacency. If anything, we have too many laws against safety hazards. If we make every symptom of distracted driving illegal, it makes each law harder to obey (and take seriously), and in the end a lot of adolescents just give up. It’s much easier to break into underage drinking once you’ve already broken the law a thousand times by simply pressing a few buttons on a cellphone while driving at 30 miles per hour.

Can adolescents learn to drive safely? Of course, but that can only happen through education. As Secretary of State Charles Summers has realized, they will not (nor should they have to) be frightened, threatened, or bullied into living safely.

Billy DeSisto


‘Loophole’ not abused

I was greatly disappointed to read the recent article that implied that there was some kind of loophole by which Goold Health Systems won state of Maine contracts during Joe Bruno’s time as CEO. I have been with this company for over 10 years and nothing could be further from the truth.

It is completely inaccurate to suggest that Joe used his influence in the Legislature to provide government contracts to Goold. As a business leader and pharmacist, Joe was an advocate for common sense health care management practices and was transparent about his employment relationships.

Joe left this company nearly eight years ago. Since then we have continued to grow and doubled in size with work across the nation. If the BDN or anyone else thinks there is a “loophole” concerning disclosure that needs to be closed, then convince the Legislature to enact legislation, but don’t condemn current and former quality public officials such as Joe Brannigan, Brenda Harvey, Arthur Lerman, Joe Bruno and others based on the perception of a problem. Maine is better than that.

GHS has been a proud partner of the state and other clients for over 37 years, providing health care management in a productive and transparent way. For example, by maximizing the pharmacy benefit, we helped to save the state hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid costs over the years.

The 200-plus Goold employees take their responsibilities seriously and to suggest an impropriety without factual basis is inaccurate and unfair.

Jim Clair

Chief Executive Officer

Goold Health Systems

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