The University of Maine is being forced to make drastic reductions in its course offerings due to Maine’s poor economy and loss of state revenues. The effects of these reductions will be felt for years to come in many facets of Maine’s economy, Maine’s students and Maine schools.

The elimination of majors in foreign languages, theater, and music are particularly disturbing to me as an educator, a citizen, and a UMO graduate. At a time when we recognize the ever-increasing role of the global economy, we are not providing for the education of future teachers of foreign languages in our schools.

Where will our teachers of foreign languages come from? I know first-hand that it is very difficult to recruit language teachers now.

For students who are talented musicians or actors, we are cutting off their hope for the future. Our governor has been promoting the “creative economy” in Maine. It seems that we are now going to give up on what we have been told was a vibrant aspect of our economy. Reducing our commitment to the arts is not the way to keep Maine a place that is “the way life should be.”

I have not heard any discussion of how the university might reduce its administrative bureaucracy in order to save programs for students. I urge Maine people to demand a more clear accounting of the finances of the university including the administrative costs.

Let’s work together to preserve the academic integrity of our state university.

David C. Wiggin

Rockport 

I am proud to say I am a student at the University of Maine. UMaine features great undergraduate programs with nationally recognized research.

One such program is the advanced engineering program. Although I am not a member of the engineering college, I am amazed at the amount of technically advanced research that is developed through the program year after year.

One of the more notable projects the engineers at UMaine have been working is wind energy research. Renewable energy is important because it’s the key to our future. This program will allow us to decrease our dependency on foreign countries for oil and other forms of energy.

having this advanced research in our state and encouraging wind energy in Maine, it is allowing graduates of this program to have jobs in the wind industry without leaving our borders. This helps the state economically because the students will stay in Maine and will be spending their money in Maine businesses.

doing this type of research, the engineering department at UMaine continues to be thought of as one of the most prestigious, well-respected programs in the country.

I am proud to say I am a student at the University of Maine because of the groundbreaking programs like the research being done in the engineering program. This program is constantly looking toward the future, developing and executing ideas that will help out our great state. Any development that comes out of this prominent program, I will gladly support!

Ted Swett

Portland

FEDERAL SPENDING VITAL WHEN ECONOMY FALLS SHORT 

In response to Martin Jones’ March 15 Maine Voices column on “Progressive government’s high cost:” There’s nothing like a recession to fan the fear of “government spending.”

With a shrinking economy, the current recession exacerbates our long-term problem of budget deficits. Yet, there is consensus among economists, liberal and conservative alike, that temporary deficit spending is necessary to create jobs and restore the economy.

When private spending and investment plummet, government must act to spur hiring and improve infrastructure for future growth.

Along with tax relief for businesses and individuals, Maine has received stimulus aid for infrastructure investment and for health care and education services — possibly saving 7,000 or more jobs in health and education alone.

These funds have helped keep Mainers working, encourage local economic activities and protect our most vulnerable citizens.

Though the worst of the recession might be over, job creation remains a serious challenge. As of January of this year, Maine’s unemployment rate remained high at 8.2 percent.

We need timely funding to help retain and create jobs, retrain our work force and reinvest in our communities. Without it, we would see a much higher unemployment rate, increased child poverty and outdated infrastructure — all of which would further delay Maine’s economic recovery.

The federal deficit should not be a political issue used to divide people. We can all agree that deficit spending needs to be temporary and targeted.

And we should all set our sights on fixing the nation’s structural deficits in the long run. We need to end fiscal recklessness (like tax cuts for the wealthiest that were not accounted for), continue to strengthen our middle class, and bring balance and discipline to future fiscal policies.

Connie Zhu

Maine Center for Economic Policy

Augusta

The recent column by Amity Shlaes (not Shales, as printed in the Press Herald) is not only ignorant, it is insulting to American workers. Shlaes informs us that jobs in government have increased more than jobs in the private sector.

This is especially unfortunate, she opines, because these jobs carry a fair amount of security. From her comfortable perch at the Council on Foreign Relations and The Wall Street Journal, she fears for a world in which we may become addicted to job security.

She counsels us to eschew secure employment, whether with the government or with stodgy companies like the old AT&T, and instead to embrace the riskiness of jobs in the private sector.

It seems not to occur to her that American workers may have had quite enough experience with job insecurity from companies that ship jobs overseas, invest in arcane financial instruments rather than in factories, and increase their “productivity” by slashing benefits and making do with fewer workers.

And before she goes too far in exhorting us to embrace risk for the good of our souls, perhaps she should read Malcolm Gladwell’s article in the Jan. 18 New Yorker which describes how entrepreneurs have amassed their riches through the studious avoidance of risk.

The crowning insult of her article lies in the last paragraph, where she disparages young people who “decide” to be “mere employees” rather than employers. So much for the dignity of labor.

Harold McWilliams

Gorham