After the first year of the administration of the candidate who ran on a platform of change, the biggest change is the name on the door.

Under President Obama, the United States still has military in the Middle East, is still bailing out businesses that went bankrupt due to uncontrolled greed, is still disrespecting fundamental rights of citizens at home and abroad, is still ensuring that insurance companies will profit from human illness.

Now more than ever, it appears that there will be no change in the fundamental ways in which this country functions and treats its people.

In my state, schools are forced to decide which essential program they must cut because there is insufficient funding for all necessities. In my state, homelessness is on the increase, and resources to help the homeless and hungry are dwindling.

In my state, big-box stores are rewarded for eliminating jobs and cutting wages. In my state, the only real change from before the 2008 election is the name of the official saying “No.”

And that means there can be no change in the way I handle my own fiscal obligations. I still believe that government has a duty to help those in need and to support or provide the services, materials and diversions that make life possible for some, richer for all, and still find my government not doing so.

Which means that as in past years I have scrupulously calculated what I owe under tax regulations designed to make the lower and middle classes fund the luxuries of the upper classes, and from my payment have withheld $50. This $50, plus federal taxes I have withheld from my phone bill payments, I am donating to the Haymarket Peoples Fund that provides the support for the programs Obama only talks about (if he does even that).

Change is not always bad; some changes are not only good but crucial. I will change my approach to taxation when my government changes its approach to policy. Change can not be merely a slogan; it must be a plan with intention.

I will pay my taxes in full when my country changes its direction. Until then, in the words of Mahatma Ghandi, I will be the change I want to see in the world.

Seth Berner

Portland

How is it that so many of us have grave concerns about the cost of (almost) universal health care and care not one wit as to the cost of our current wars?

To have the capacity to provide health and to deny doing so, for any reason, is morally and theologically unjustifiable, especially given the teachings of the New Testament.

The challenge for Christians who would withhold medical help to any while providing a blank check for wars is to how to convince themselves that they prefer life to death, and have Jesus’ blessings in so doing either, let alone both.

Peter Boehmer

Falmouth

People claiming the “moderate” label are suddenly popping up everywhere. Most are making one of two mistakes.

One mistake is to confuse reckless pandering to dangerous populism with moderate behavior.

Another mistake is to live in an echo chamber disproportionately populated by loons. That creates a distorted view of the political continuum. Think Huffington Post readers and members of the Republican Party circa 2010.

New Telegram columnist Tony Payne apparently makes one of these mistakes. If you are asked to give a synopsis of the last 30 years of American civic life and all you come up with is that entitlement programs have eaten the financial heart out of our country, you are not even within hailing distance of being a moderate.

You could fire a flare into the night sky and all the moderates will see is a red glow on the horizon to their right.

Entitlement programs are a huge issue. But time frames and predictability make them some of the easier problems that would face a healthy political culture.

Making sure our poorest citizens see sound economic incentives is part of the job of government. But recent years have taught us this concern is minor compared to making sure the incentives of the rich and powerful make sense.

Our financial sector is too large, with a fee-based opaque-product business model that actually did eat the heart out of our world with lightning speed.

Our political culture is not healthy. An immature view on taxation is now devolving into the infantile tea party movement.

We, as a traumatized nation, chose to start an open-ended war. This mistake is more likely to breed terrorism for decades rather than reduce terrorism.

Kenneth O’Brien

Gorham

Yarmouth honor code case raises questions

This is regarding the Yarmouth student who, with her parents, is trying to get out of her wrongdoing by going to court. My comment is, what is wrong with the parents here? What happened to adults standing up for what is right and not standing behind their children when they are in the wrong?

I will date myself by saying that if I got in trouble at school, I would be in more trouble once I got home. I commend Judge D. Brock Hornby for doing what was right and turning down a restraining order. He should have thrown it out of his courtroom before it even began to waste everyone’s time. The family’s lawyer, Michael Waxman, reaffirms my belief that the world has gone crazy.

This incident just proves that some people think that rules were made for others and not them — the honor code is in place for a reason. If the code is abolished, then all sports and extra activities should cease as well.

If this girl gets off, it will make Yarmouth High School lose credibility completely.

Lynda Estabrook

Walpole

I have read the articles you printed about the Yarmouth girl’s lacrosse player that was found to be drinking during the lacrosse season. I feel the issue was dealt with incorrectly.

The assistant principal told the girl that she was not allowed to call her mother until she had spoken to her and the school’s substance abuse counselor, Jill Drame. The girl could have just left the office and called her mother with no consequences.

The girl may have admitted to doing the act, but the school did not handle the situation in the correct manner.

The girl did break the honor code of the school, and the law, which gives the school the right to suspend or terminate her lacrosse season for the remainder of the year.

The school officials have made this issue more blown up than it should be just because of the way they handled it. They forced the girl into a story and I feel an investigation should be held to determine the real story.

The real story could be that her parents gave her a drink and took a photo of it on the girl’s camera. When the girl uploaded her photos from her day at school with her friends she forgot that the image was there and it was accidentally uploaded onto her Facebook page.

There are an endless amount of possibilities to this incident and one can’t determine the punishment without a proper investigation.

Ryan Regis

Biddeford

 

I would like to applaud the commitment and courage of the attorney and parents of the 16-year-old lacrosse player at Yarmouth High School. It is not often we see the justice system used so effectively to protect the absolute rights of high school students to drink alcohol and play on their school lacrosse team.

Our justice system protects us from overreaching, authoritative figures like Assistant Principal Amy Bongar. Who is she to enforce the rules to which the student and her parents agreed? Who is she to infringe upon the rights of responsible parents to allow their 16-year-old daughter to drink beer, even if the code says that was wrong?

Is nothing sacred, if not a teenager’s right to play lacrosse for her school? How could she possibly grow up to be a successful adult if she misses three weeks of lacrosse, including a team trip on April vacation? What about the other girls on the team? Where are they going to get beer now?

Thank you, Michael J. Waxman and the unnamed parents! Without your fearless defense of this young lady, our kids might grow up thinking they have to live up to their obligations, refrain from using illegal substances and behave in a manner consistent with the laws of our country.

To quote the Beastie Boys: “You gotta to fight for your right to partaaaayyyy!!”

Kyle Parrish

Cape Elizabeth

 

Really, how influential are those conservative voices?

 

In The New York Times a few weeks ago, David Brooks wrote about how ineffective Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of their gang were in their efforts to influence the Republican Party.

Brooks’ contention was that for all of the hot air they released, their biased opinions had no meaningful effect on the party. “The talk jocks,” he said, “couldn’t even deliver conservative voters who showed up at the primaries. It’s a story of remarkable volume and utter weakness.”

Glenn Beck, a member of this Wild Bunch, shot himself in the foot recently, with his tirade on “social and economic justice’ while holding up a Nazi swastika and a Communist hammer and sickle. His words and actions were so far out of the realm of common sense that members of the clergy and his own Mormon church questioned the veracity of his harangue.

It would be in his best interests to think about taking a refresher course in Bible interpretation in the near future. Surely any Christian evangelical cleric or Mormon church member would be happy to assist him in this endeavor. In the meantime it is probably best if he refrain from quoting any passages from the “Good Book.”

Then there is Rush Limbaugh, a master of innuendo and long-winded hyperbole. A column in the Maine Sunday Telegram of April 11 noted that Limbaugh threatened to leave the country if health care reform became the law of the land.

He’s still here! If he left he would have to give up the big bucks and go back to smoking cheap cigars. There are those Republicans who think these “talk jocks” are not leaders of their party. They feel it is time to find someone in their ranks with honesty and integrity to lead them out of the wilderness. Certainly that’s a formidable task with such a limited number of candidates available with these qualifications.

Bob Roffler

North Yarmouth

 

Joe Queenan’s commentary in the April 11 Telegram on Rush Limbaugh was fatuous and based on an error. As a frequent Limbaugh listener, I did hear the program in which Queenan claims that Rush threatened to leave the country if ObamaCare passed.

Not so! Limbaugh said that he would take advantage of a possible private health insurance plan in which better medical treatment in Costa Rica would be provided; that is, he would travel to Costa Rica for medical care if ObamaCare were to be enacted.

Queenan, like the paper’s editors, are entitled to their opinions. Queenan, and by extension, the editors, are not entitled to their own facts.

Ron Goldstone

Dexter

 

Heading for the mountains? Consider what’s best to bring

 

I’ve lived in Maine most my life, along with a little in New Hampshire and 15 years in Vail, Colo.

In Colorado, if you get lost in the mountains skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, whatever, so long as you have a hunting/fishing license, you will get no bill for getting lost and won’t still be a news story on page B2 of The Portland Press Herald.

That’s what I call “being prepared.” About everyone knows that slogan before they’re old enough to be a Brownie or Cub Scout.

Here is the big debate. If one is going exploring any mountain, any time of year, what’s best to bring? Hand sanitizer? Or an avalanche beacon?

Jeff Champagne

Portland