Maine benefits from ‘geezer’ power

The guest editorial by Tim Baehr May 10 about the benefits to Maine from us older residents was right on!

Lincoln County has one of the oldest populations in all of our 16 counties. In the Damariscotta region, it is retirees, mostly not Maine natives, who are major drivers of the local economic engine.

In the Twin Villages there are six banks, two Reny’s stores, a successful bookstore, two pharmacies and five year-round restaurants, among other businesses. If they depended solely on summer visitors, they wouldn’t be able to keep going in the dead of winter.

As Mr. Baehr stated, we pay sales taxes, property taxes and auto taxes and don’t add to the school costs. Most of the volunteers for three thriving land trusts, the hospital and library are retirees. They serve on local town boards and committees, clean up and beautify our small park areas and populate the YMCA tennis and exercise areas.

And, they were instrumental in the success of Coastal Senior College, No. 11 of the now 17 such institutions in the Pine Tree State.

Yes, Maine needs to retain its young people and provide them with the education to attract clean, good-paying jobs. But we old geezers from away are not part of the problem, but part of the solution!

David Bailey
Newcastle

 

Sen. Collins wrong to defend gun sales to watch-list members

 

A bill which would prohibit individuals on the terrorist watch list from purchasing guns is languishing in the Senate, and will likely meet its demise there. One who has spoken against the bill is Sen. Susan Collins, ranking GOP member of the Homeland Security Committee.

The senator’s expressed rationale for her opposition to the bill is that guns are not generally the weapon of choice for terrorists, and that, therefore, no citizen’s constitutional right to purchase guns should be abridged.

The general propensity for terrorists to resort to means of destruction other than firearms seems irrelevant to me, and Sen. Collins’s explanation strikes me as nothing short of an insult to the public’s intelligence.

She is simply marching to GOP and NRA drummers.

Alexander Severance
Brunswick

 

While the story of a deadly traffic accident in California is tragic, I believe that Sen. Susan Collins’ comments that same day as part of the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee hearing on “terrorists and guns” would have been a more relevant story to head your “Nation & World” section.

Along with her Republican colleagues, Collins spoke in opposition to allowing the government to use the FBI terrorist watch list to keep terrorists from purchasing guns.

Yes, you read that correctly. Sen. Collins is unwilling to support a sensible limit on the ability of a would-be terrorist to purchase guns, in the same way that limits are imposed on those with felony convictions.

This has nothing to do with protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens to own guns and everything to do with pleasing the National Rifle Association’s lobby, the most powerful lobby in Washington.

So the next time you hear Sen. Collins assert that the safety of Americans is her first priority, some skepticism may be appropriate.

Mary Ann Larson
New Gloucester

On May 5, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg appeared before Congress to ask that suspected terrorists on terror watchlists be denied the right to purchase guns and explosives. “Shouldn’t FBI agents have the authority to block sales of guns and explosives to those on the terror watch lists — and deemed too dangerous to fly?” Bloomberg told senators.

I’m with Mayor Bloomberg on this one. This proposal does not strike me as being anti-gun — it’s anti-terrorist.

Even the most ardent libertarian should not have a problem denying gun ownership to people like the man arrested for trying to detonate a bomb in Times Square (who had a handgun in his car at the time of his arrest).

If you are suspected of being a terrorist and thereby placed on a terror watch list and denied the right to fly, you also lose the right to buy guns and explosives. Who would oppose such a simple, effective idea?

Our own Sen. Susan Collins, of course. She does not “want to infringe upon a constitutional right of law-abiding Americans.”

Collins is one of a growing number of Republican leaders who think that suspected terrorists can be denied their Miranda rights, be subjected to “harsh interrogation techniques” (i.e., tortured) and even stripped of U.S. citizenship.

But God forbid we limit the ability of suspected terrorists from purchasing weapons!

I wish that instead of Sen. Collins, we had an elected leader who thought for herself and represented the interests of Mainers and the United States as a whole.

All too often Sen. Collins sets aside her responsibilities to kowtow to the National Rifle Association or some other special-interest group that has her in its pocket.

These are troubling times. Having someone like Sen. Collins in Washington only adds to the trouble.

James O’Keefe
Cumberland

 

Wind power offers way to avoid fossil fuel disasters

 

The recent tragedies with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the coal mine disaster remind us that all the energy we use comes at a great cost. These costs are beyond the financial, they include environmental and social impacts and international security issues.

Here in Maine, we use very little energy from coal, but the costs of coal energy are profound to our state. The fact that we can no longer safely eat fish from our lakes and streams and the degradation to our forest from coal pollution are more subtle, but equally tragic as these other events that have recently attracted headlines.

Thus the timing is ideal for us to celebrate the leadership Maine has employed to develop alternative means of clean energy. Gov. Baldacci has proclaimed May 9-15 as Maine Wind Week. We should all be very proud that Maine is creating clean solutions that will increasingly displace our reliance on dirty carbon fuels.

The major cost to Maine for wind energy requires using our available land for wind project development. And then the benefits include economic growth, job creation and clean energy.

It is really quite a windfall to celebrate, and to continue to support. There is a schedule of wind energy events throughout the state online at www.mainewindindustry.com.

Paul Williamson
Augusta