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Thursday, March 28, 2013: Debt, underdogs and BPA

Workers’ debt relief

Social workers are an integral part of our state. They help people cope with difficult social problems, advocate for social changes, connect people with resources, address mental illness and much more. Social workers can be found in hospitals, schools, correctional facilities, mental health centers, nursing homes and many other settings.

The state of Maine’s job outlook to 2020 predicts social workers to be one of the top 25 occupations with the largest projected number of annual openings. It is crucial for the citizens of Maine that there be qualified people to meet this projected demand. Despite the fact that social workers are so versatile and sought-after, their salaries remain among the lowest for professionals. Combine this with the fact that social workers have accumulated significant

educational debt obtaining their degrees, and this profession becomes an unattainable choice for many.

LD 1036, “An Act to Amend the Social Work Education Loan Repayment Program,” would provide debt relief to social workers who desperately need it. The bill would provide 40 applicants per year with up to $1,000 of debt relief. This isn’t much considering the amount of financial burden some social workers are experiencing, but this is a starting point.

The state of Maine needs passionate social workers. The passing and funding of LD 1036 would demonstrate the state’s dedication and appreciation to social workers and all that they do for the quality of life in our state. It is time for the state of Maine to help the people who have chosen to dedicate their lives to helping others.

Tori Wilcox



Cheering for underdogs

For Mainers, there’s extra reason to cheer for the underdogs in this year’s “March Madness.” La Salle University is guided by former Maine coach Dr. John Giannini, who produced two of the winningest teams in university history. Yet, his Maine teams never qualified for the “Big Dance” — the NCAA men’s Division I basketball championship.

Giannini left Maine in good shape and went on to restore dignity to a La Salle program in upheaval. After nine years, mission accomplished! A good and determined man is rewarded for his hard work to shape young men and to achieve excellence.

Enter Florida Gulf Coast. Their defiant confidence and sometimes reckless style has demoralized higher-rated opponents. These high-flying, exuberant upstarts are reveling in the dream to which they are called. And frustrated, trophy-barren Black Bear fans can lay claim to prominence, since Maine defeated these overachievers in December.

Why is cheering for the underdog so popular — and natural? Perhaps we all aspire to greatness, but others are always getting in the way. And it feels good to invest our collective goodwill in a fledgling on the verge of success. Perhaps our instinct to nurture is thirsty. Or, perhaps we suffer from an innate sense of inferiority, lost amid the facelessness of the unchosen many.

Humans are wired to overcome. It’s a journey we all need. So, jump on board — the fantasy will soon be over. Then, return to the dreams you were appointed to pursue. Aim high. Others stand at the ready to raise you up.

Tim Bishop



Building a toxic-free future

Most parents will agree that their children’s well-being is first and foremost. I, too, worry about keeping my son properly nourished, positively nurtured and safe from everyday hazards. I try to read food labels and make sure I’m not giving him too much sugar, sodium, or other not-so-healthy ingredients. Not surprisingly, though, he often has his own ideas about what he will and will not eat. I do the best I can.

When I learned that the chemical bisphenol-A is found right in the lining of baby food jars and cans of food marketed directly to kids, I was shocked. Why would someone knowingly distribute products containing something so harmful? The thought that my son could be hurt by something as commonplace as food packaging is terrifying to me.

Here’s the good news: A bill sponsored by Sen. Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, will make sure we close a loophole that currently blocks the state from regulating BPA in food packaging for adults and kids over the age of 3 and will require the state to take action on 49 other chemicals that have been identified as causing cancer, learning disabilities and other serious health effects.

I hope our elected officials will support this legislation to help protect our children.

Angela Olson Hart



Honest gun control

Maybe I am stupid, ignorant or simply misinformed — or all of the above. I simply cannot see how putting more gun control laws in effect will do any good. I do not have a problem with background checks, but that is it! Anything other than that is useless. Wake up, and smell the roses, people.

The laws of this great land of ours no longer protect you. The authorities can investigate after you become a statistic, but they can’t protect you. You have to do that yourself by any means available. Declare war on guns? We haven’t won a war since 1945. War on poverty, war on drugs, war on illiteracy. What a joke.

Now the war on guns. You will just drive the purchases of what you want into the arms of people like the drug dealers of today, and, for every one you bust, 10 more will take their place. Gun controls are just like locks on your door — only for the honest person.

John McCready


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