I remember a time when the state of Maine was one of the leading producers of shoes and textiles in the world.

I also remember when it was an easy task to buy American products in this country. Nowadays it’s akin to searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

The decline of the American worker isn’t a reflection of poor workmanship or sloppy work habits, but of past decisions by our government to pass one-sided trade agreements such as NAFTA and CAFTA, which have succeeded in outsourcing many of our high-paying manufacturing jobs across the border to other countries.

The latest assault on the American worker is the practice of agencies such as the International Trade Commission turning a blind eye toward the illegal dumping of products by developing powers such as China and Indonesia.

This affects us by creating an unequal market condition for American manufacturers. A case in point is the struggling paper industry in Maine, which spends millions of dollars a year to adhere to stringent environmental and work safety laws, while competitors China and Indonesia don’t have to comply with such measures.

This, coupled with the Chinese and Indonesian practice of illegally subsidizing their companies below the cost of manufacturing, creates an unfair market in which to compete.

The paper industry in Maine is one of the few remaining places where blue-collar workers can still make a decent wage in this state.

We need to encourage our leaders at the state and federal level to enforce our international trade laws so that we all can compete on a level playing field. Our futures and the futures of our children depend on it.

Neil C. Marquis

Rumford

 

 

Enough is enough. How many jobs do we have to lose to foreign companies before we find some way to hold onto them?

China and Indonesia have been illegally dumping coated paper in the United States by manufacturing it below cost.

They cheapen these products by using methods that are illegal in this and many other countries, such as illegal logging, child labor, paying sweatshop wages, and government subsidies for energy, chemicals and wood.

Making paper is as much a Maine way of life as building ships, farming potatoes and fishing. The textile industry is all but gone. We need to keep the jobs we have in this state and hopefully develop more. We can compete in any global market, but we need an even playing field.

I’m hoping to reach out to communities outside the papermaking towns in an effort to get the community leaders and representatives to speak up and pass a anti-dumping resolution.

Support your fellow Mainers whose jobs are being threatened. We have lost too many manufacturing jobs already.

Ed Bulger

Rumford

 

 

Too much defense spending takes away from other needs

 

In regard to Cal Thomas’ recent column, “Yearning to breathe free again,” I believe he left out one entitlement program the Republicans and also Democrats refuse to bring up or talk about, which is the cost of the military/defense complex.

From what I have read, the defense industry spends 25 percent of our national budget, and that this portion of the budget is greater than the rest of the world’s military spending combined.

If you consider that people employed in the defense industry make, on the average, close to double what non-defense workers make, it would be sensible to switch spending to items that would decrease unemployment and provide useful products, health care, and improve America’s infrastructure.

This country could prosper if the money would not be spent overseas on nation-building, wars and keeping troops in many countries 65 years after World War II ended.

If we bring our military home and only worry about protecting the Western Hemisphere, we could re-employ all those out of work, solve the health care issue and rebuild broken America. And save $500 billion a year.

It’s a no-brainer. Why can’t our stymied politicians think out what the people need and want? Are their hands tied to lobbyists and big business?

If a president can have only two terms, how can we let the other politicians sit in Congress for 40 years and help cause our bankruptcy?

Thomas says our country needs a revival of principles that made us strong, so make two terms a limit and bring in people who can think about what’s best for all — or just vote the long-termers out.

Thomas H. Stone

Bridgton

 

 

Majority’s wastefulness coming home to roost

 

While there is so very much to be said about the dysfunction in Washington and how that will eventually affect us in Maine, I want to address issues of more urgency.

First of all, it is good that the Baldacci economic and political story is coming to its sad fruition. Unfortunately, for the common thinkers, this is happening at the end of his administrative reign.

Those who put him into office for two terms are now feeling the heat and were betrayed.

Recently, state Sen. Stan Gerzofsky stated: “We’re in a downward spiral on funding … we have to tighten our belts even more … these are going to be very hard times and lean years, not just in Brunswick but the whole state.”

This state senator, a decent and smart politician, knows why we have gone too far into the deep waters of economic trials and struggles. Do you?

For 20 years, the leaders in the governor’s mansion and State House have been a one-party — well, party. For some reason Maine has lacked political balance.

Politicians in Augusta for years have been sharks on a crazed frenzy, feeding on taxpayers and middle-income workers at will, with no natural predators to keep the natural world of politics in check.

Hopefully 2010 will be a year of bringing back reality and healthy renewal for a hurting population.

Demand change. Do not settle for government control and dependence. Election Day is seven months away, so cheers for democracy.

Jeffrey Schneider

Brunswick