Constitution allows for disagreement

In response to Russell Warnberg’s letter of April 3, I would advise him to take a closer look at the “history” he has been “teaching” for 40 years.

The framers of our Constitution, as any serious student of history knows, were pretty well divided among those who felt our fledgling nation needed a strong central government with the power to tax and address local issues, and their opposition, those who felt that local government was preferable, when needed, and that the best government was that which intruded the least.

Their brilliance was in realizing that people were not going to see eye to eye about this and many other issues, and in drafting a document that allowed us to work out our differences for the common good.

We have recently reaped, as we have so many times in the past, the harvest of “free capitalism.” Unfettered it led us to the brink of economic collapse and only through the power of a strong central government did we avoid calamity. Although the merits of some of the steps taken are open to debate, there can be no doubt that the lack of intervention by Washington would have been catastrophic.

The old saw about power being corrupting is true; the framers realized this and instituted a system of checks and balances for their new government. Time and again our nation’s economic experience has shown that a similar system of checks and balances is needed for our “free capitalistic” system.

We live in a world infinitely more complex than our Founding Fathers could ever have imagined, but the beauty of the document they left us is that it is as applicable now as it was in the 18th century.

The demonizing of the opposition is no path to righteousness; calling yourself a “good American” doesn’t make you one. Politics shouldn’t be about you, and it shouldn’t be about me, it should be about us.

Gerald F. Slack

Casco

 

Tony Payne column raises ethical concerns

 

Until recently, Falmouth Town Councilor Tony Payne was writing a biweekly essay for the Northern Forecaster. That such a publication would print an opinion column by a sitting elected official exhibits suspect journalistic standards by the newspaper’s publishers and questionable principles on the part of the individual involved.

However, in the Forecaster’s April edition an editor’s note explained that Mr. Payne’s essay that week would be his last for the paper, because he had become a declared candidate for re-election.

Fairness dictates that providing a regular print or broadcast public forum for a particular candidate to air his or her views is unjust, unless equal time is provided for said candidate’s opponent(s).

That’s why it was so surprising to see a column with Mr. Payne’s photo and byline on it in the April 4 edition of the Maine Sunday Telegram. In it he cheerfully introduced himself to his new (and significantly larger) audience, informing us that he’ll be bringing up issues which he thinks are important to Mainers each week, and putting his own spin on them in the process.

Mr. Payne should be a columnist or a candidate, but not both. That the Maine Sunday Telegram has chosen to run the opinions of an actively campaigning elected official speaks volumes about the paper’s lack of journalistic integrity. And Mr. Payne’s opting yet again to grab an opportunity to share his opinions in a newspaper while simultaneously running for office leaves little doubt about his personal ethical standards.

Andrew D. Young

Cumberland

 

Diocese stayed true, but Swann fumbled badly

 

I read with interest the Press Herald’s article about the Catholic Church’s confrontation with the Preble Street Resource Center over the latter’s violation of a written agreement with the diocese.

According to the article, the local diocese along with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development donated almost $40,000 per year to Preble Street for 13 years, a total of more than $500,000. The money was designated for use by the Homeless Voice for Justice.

As part of the agreement, Preble Street had to agree not to violate basic Catholic teachings, especially on controversial issues such as abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage. Preble Street violated the agreement by visibly supporting same-sex marriage in the November referendum.

If Mark Swann, the executive director of Preble Street, were so concerned about the homeless as he so painfully expressed, wouldn’t you think he’d have reflected more deeply before violating the agreement? After all, $40,000 per year is not insignificant. Wouldn’t you think that he would have at least contacted the diocese beforehand and said that we have a potential problem developing?

No, he did none of the above. Frankly, if I were a member of the board at Homeless Voice for Justice, I’d be so upset that I would have insisted that Mr. Swann consider resigning.

As for the diocese and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, there was no choice for them but to withdraw their support.

People must recognize that the donated funds came from individual Catholics who expect that their donations adhere to Catholic teachings. The bishop, who is shouldered with the solemn vow to uphold Catholic teachings, did what he had to do knowing full well the assault that would follow from the media and dissident Catholics.

Carl J. Maddaleni

Cape Elizabeth

 

Cost of health care reform pales beside cost of war

 

It is interesting to me that critics of the recent health care reform bill, and that includes the writer of this past Sunday’s lead editorial (“Congress should fix awful health reform law”), insist that the cost of the bill is too steep, that it will hurt business and bankrupt the country.

I would like to see these critics, and that includes the Portland newspapers, publish the costs of the disastrous wars we have been waging for the past eight years. If we were to put those costs side by side with the cost of this reform bill, we might get some perspective on what is more likely to bankrupt our country.

Even that will not tell us the whole story, for there are terrible hidden costs resulting from these wars that will haunt us for a generation to come, e.g. the many badly wounded “survivors.” And there are equally terrible hidden costs that will cripple us economically if we do not radically reform our health care system.

The bitterly partisan debates in Congress and elsewhere have ill served the cause of informing the people of this country on what is really at stake.

Mary-Jane Ferrier

South Portland