Maine needs universal child care

I was the single mom of two beautiful twins. As a single mom, child care for not one, but two children, was just too expensive, so I, like a lot of new moms, quit my job to take care of my kids. That was decades ago, and since then, child care costs have drastically increased.

Women are expected, far too often, to play the role of caregiver and breadwinner in a way that is completely impossible. Taking years off to raise children contributes significantly to the pay gap, forcing women to postpone careers, forcing them to live on pennies, and robbing them of their ability to save and contribute to retirement.

The system hurts our economy, shrinking the workforce. It robs Social Security, and the low wages of workers condemns an enormous and growing workforce to poverty, feeding the cycle that has young people leaving Maine in droves.

We need to fight a culture that accepts the pay gap and poverty as inevitable, and creating universal child care is a great way of making that happen.

Linda Cousens

Newburgh

A joyous reunion

My husband and I were so happy to hear that Bonnie, the little white dog lost for two weeks, had been found. Eight years ago we also lost our little white dog, Quigley, in Orono for 11 days.

With the help of so many people, he was finally found by Mr. and Mrs. Parent. The BDN also printed an article about our joyous reunion. Since then he has lived a great life, traveling across the country with us for five separate journeys. He love seeing new sites, and he was our special companion.

We just want to let those who remember the story, that Quigley died last month at the age of 14. We miss him so much. He was such a sweet little white dog. We wish Bonnie and her owner the very best.

Joan Holmberg

Brooksville

Trump’s criticism of Germany

Why is Donald Trump so critical of Germany? He has managed to alienate one of our strongest allies to the point that they say they no longer can count on us. What could be the reason for this?

He asserts that they are not spending enough on defense, as a percentage of GDP, as a member of NATO. Of course, this is nonsense. The U.S. spends a greater percentage of our GDP on defense because we have a lot more irons in the fire than just NATO. The U.S. troop levels in Europe are not much more than a trip-wire to discourage Russian aggression (less than 50,000 in all of Europe). So could there be another reason for Trump’s attitude toward Germany?

Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of 20th-century German-Russian history knows the fear and suspicion they share for each other after two bloody struggles to the death. Both countries have experienced horrors we, as Americans, cannot even imagine. It would be perfectly logical for Russia to want to drive a wedge between Germany and her allies by sowing lies and distrust.

So I ask again: Why is Trump so critical of Germany?

Jeffrey Huber

Farmington

Universal child care bill

I am a mother of two wonderful kids, but child care creates incredible financial strains that my husband and I never could have predicted. I’ve had years when more than 40 percent of our combined income has been for child care.

We have a 14-year-old and a 3-year-old, and just during that decade between the two kids, child care costs have skyrocketed. This is a problem that’s getting worse as costs continue to rise, and even while we are paying this much for child care, workers and agencies are strapped, too.

High costs often also force parents out of the workforce. Parents, primarily moms, take huge pay cuts to stay at home and take care of kids, and those years not contributing to retirement, paying a mortgage or growing a savings account follows parents the rest of their lives.

The child care system needs a complete reboot. Nothing in the current system is working. Rep. Drew Gattine’s universal family care bill — LD 1612 — is a brilliant new plan to help parents, children, workers and agencies by properly investing in child care.

The program is funded by taking a regressive payroll tax (where the rich pay less than the poor) and making it a flat tax (where everyone pays the same).

This program takes care of the most vulnerable in our society by creating a tax code that is more equitable.

Jessica Bickford

Bangor

Early childhood education strengthens national security

Throughout my more than 30 years in the Maine Air National Guard and my service as Maine adjutant general, I have supported programs that ensure our youth are prepared to serve in the U.S. military. It is a matter of great importance to me, as our nation’s security and strength depend on making sure our kids stay fit, stay in school, and stay out of trouble so they are able to serve our country if that is the path they choose.

I therefore read with great interest a May 23 BDN article about a University of New Hampshire study urging Maine and other states to get more kids in early childhood learning programs. Kids who participate in quality early learning programs get a stronger foundation in life and, as the story reported, they are more likely to stay in school and less likely to commit crimes.

Considering that more than 70 percent of our country’s young adults are ineligible for military service because of problems with their educational attainment, obesity, and crime and drug use, I believe more than ever in early childhood development and education programs, such as Early Head Start and Head Start, as a solution for starting our kids off on the right foot, especially kids who are identified as at-risk.

Maine must invest further in quality early learning programs. The benefits certainly are not limited to military preparedness, but they are imperative to the future strength of our military, and the security of our nation.

Nelson Durgin

Bangor