State cuts worthy programs

My first reaction to the news that the state will no longer fund the National Board of Certification for Teachers was horror. The program is top-notch and provides school systems with educators that are committed and driven to prove their value and worth to their school community.

This year I have worked over 200 hours developing teaching styles and strategies that impact student learning. It is evident that the budget must balance, but of all the money the state puts into education, why start cutting with this program?

Then I remembered how things work in Augusta. The best and the brightest have a small voice. For example, the gifted and talented programs receive less than 10 percent state support and the special education funding far exceeds 50 percent.

Maybe the state is going to cut all entitlement programs. It just started with the teachers. To that I say, ”Go ahead, cut programs straight across the board!” Because the likelihood that most beneficiaries of state aid, food stamps and Maine Medicaid spent over 200 hours looking for work, taking parenting classes or making healthy choices are slim to none.

Where are the statistic that support each one of these individuals adding more value to our state? It is high time to change the distribution of funds. Let’s revisit incentive programs and reward people for their professional work ethic.

Suzanne E. Carbonneau

Auburn

 

When president’s on TV, people change the channel

I was at Central Maine Medical Center waiting for my wife, and there were six people in the waiting area watching TV, which at the time was a soap opera. A gentleman came in, dropped his wife off and asked if he could change the channel. President Obama came on CNN and everyone (I mean everyone), five women and two men, voiced their displeasure.

It surprised me in a way, but not really. Last week Obama signed a bill regarding obesity, indicating it was killing the country. In my opinion, he is killing the country in so many ways.

His wife is in charge of obesity in schools? She is not exactly a ”slim Jane.” It’s a shame we inherit wives, children and siblings of the people we elect. Remember ”Billy Beer” Carter?

Anthony Riordan

Lisbon Falls

 

It’s possible to recall a time when politicians had spines

Today, only disingenuous politicians say they are striving to make the best health care plan possible. They are Republicans who said their primary goal was to bring down the Obama administration and a few spineless Democrats more interested in getting re-elected than in the welfare of their constituents.

In both cases, the arguments they are using are specious and self-serving. The simple, unalterable fact is, everything is incremental. Social Security and Medicare, when passed, were not perfect. They had to be tweaked and adjusted until they have become two excellently run government programs.

They are two programs that Republicans tried in every way to defeat. Medicare to them was a threat to our democracy and was leading us down the path to socialism. Their backers, the pharmaceutical companies and lobbyists, used every scare tactic imaginable to prove their point.

Fortunately, back then our congressional representatives had some backbone and were less self-serving than those people who are supposedly representing us today in Congress. Although Social Security ran the gamut and was passed, it nearly became a disaster when the last administration tried to tie it to the stock market.

Today our congressional representatives must face the cold, hard facts. Because of their ineptness they are responsible for the deaths, every day, of all Americans who lack universal health care for a total of 50,000 a year.

How many more people have to die before Congress stops playing its senseless games?

Bob Roffler

North Yarmouth

 

Why no apparent outrage over stories of torture?

 I read with concern two articles in the Feb. 11 Press Herald, ”Child soldier awaits Gitmo trial” and ”British intelligence knew of man’s torture by U.S.”

The first states that the 16-year-old was tortured while at Guantanamo in 2003. The article does not address the torture of the boy but rather the problem of his age.

The second reports that Britain was forced, by a British appeals court, to reveal that a British resident was subjected to ”cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by United States.”

In Washington, the director of national intelligence said the ruling was ”not helpful.” Not helpful to ”strong, effective security”? Two routine, unobtrusive ”everyday” news stories?

Where is the public outcry? Where is the anger? The concern? Where are the indignant voices of our churchgoers? The blackguard George W. Bush and his war-loving henchmen bear the responsibility for this stain on our nation’s honor, and they should be brought to justice for it.

We prosecute rapists, child molesters and drug dealers. Is there no revulsion to torture? Our silence seals our complicity.

Do we U.S. citizens actually accept the proposition that torture is acceptable if the suspect is ugly-looking, somebody else is doing the torturing and it’s in a faraway place?

Vaughn D. Fuller

Damariscotta

 

Corporations gain power as people are losing it

The recent Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited corporate contributions to election campaigns has aroused strong critical reaction.

However, few today realize the antecedents in this debate. Historically, the 19th century was a constant battleground over what role corporations should have, if any, in U.S. life.

For the first 75 years of this country’s existence, there was fighting over whether to establish a national bank. The fear was that such a bank would place control of the nation’s wealth into the hands of a few.

We ended up with the Federal Reserve Bank. Simultaneously there was a battle over legalization and chartering of corporations. The colonists had been oppressed by large chartered European corporations and were wary.

In reality, the Boston Tea Party was a revolt against the monopoly of the British East India Tea Co. Americans citizens feared that giving legal status to corporations would lead to the control of capital and resources by a few.

Until the Civil War period, corporations were kept on a short leash with limited charters. The Civil War led to a great expansion in the nation’s productive capacity and the intermingling of private and government roles, with corporations exerting ever more influence.

Shortly before his death, Abraham Lincoln warned that” corporations have been enthroned. An era of corruption in high places will follow and the money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people until wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the republic is destroyed.”

Nevertheless, corporations gained power in state legislatures and with judges at all levels. Finally in 1886 the Supreme Court ruled, in Santa Clara v. the Southern Pacific Railroad, that a corporation is to be considered under the law a natural person with all the rights of an individual as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

Many considered this ruling to rank in infamy with the Dred Scott decision. Paradoxically, the 14th Amendment, passed to outlaw slavery, came to be much more instrumental in protecting and expanding economic rights than civil rights.

Adam Smith in ”The Wealth of Nations” stated, ”The pretence that corporations are necessary to the better government of trade is without foundation.”

Early on it was worried that chartered corporations would garner such power that they could come to dominate government.

Alas, today the mass of corporate lobbyists can be considered a fourth branch of government, one that is an ever-more-dominating power.

Duane Robert Pierson

Portland