Probably most people are aware of the referendum on June 8 in which we can vote for repeal of the so-called tax reform passed by the Legislature, but put on hold pending the result of this referendum.

Most of the news reports and opinion pieces about this proposed law mention its slight reduction in income tax rates and its broadening of the sales tax, but one provision seems to be studiously ignored or purposely hidden.

If this referendum is defeated, some generous people may be in for a rude shock when filing their next tax return. Not one of the several people I have talked to about this was aware that the proposed law eliminates the charitable deductions for those who itemize when filing their taxes (replacing it with a credit that is capped).

Not only will this hurt those who give generously, but it will also hurt many charities that depend on private contributions.

It is difficult not to suspect that those who stealthily push this proposal resent the competition private charities pose to the growing thrust of government to take ever more control of our lives and to be recognized as the monopolistic source of all our help and blessings.

Yes, Maine does need tax reform, but this particular legislation is not the way to achieve it. Please help preserve individual rights and responsibilities and join me in voting “yes” on referendum Question 1 on June 8.

Stephen A. MacDonald

Gorham

 

Meet Mo and Po. Mo is a big-time lawyer from Portland who makes $500,000 a year and Po is a clam digger from Eastport who makes $15,000 per year.

With the reduction in state income tax from 8.5 percent to 6.5 percent, Mo saves about $10,000, and since Po doesn’t pay state income tax because his income is so low, he saves nothing.

However, because lawmakers have added 102 new everyday items to the sales tax rolls, Po is paying a lot more taxes out of his meager earnings.

Mo magnanimously thanks Po and all the many Poes in the state of Maine for helping him save a bundle on his income taxes. But as Mo turns and walks away, he silently mouths the word “sucker.”

Larry Davis

Hallowell and Peaks Island

 

 

Plight of Somalian woman reflected in U.S. politics

 

The recent story and picture of a 19-year-old woman holding a 5-month-old daughter was heartbreaking. She had fled from Somalia to Kenya to prevent being stoned to death by the Islamist militia, the punishment for being pregnant but unmarried.

Why are pregnant women singled out for punishment? Why aren’t the men?

Why is it so easy to recognize the horror of fundamentalist religious practices toward women when religions here in the United States are doing the same thing?

To overturn Roe v. Wade is obviously one of the most important goals of conservative religions. Their goal is to force women, girls, even pregnant children (yes, it happens) to have a baby even if they don’t want to be a mother, even to save their lives. No exceptions.

The purpose of Roe v. Wade was to protect the life and health of a woman, to provide for a safe abortion instead of the back- alley practitioners which ended too often in death.

The recently passed health insurance for Americans denies funds for a safe abortion. Why? Because the political strength of the religious right is powerful.

When George W. Bush was president, all funds to foreign countries to fight AIDS, etc. could not be used for abortion or contraception. The separation of church and state deteriorated.

Why shouldn’t women have the right to makes choices for themselves? Men do. Who mostly controls the fundamentalist religious institutions? Men do.

Women have had to fight for their rights and, unfortunately, there is no end in sight.

Gene Proctor

West Bath

 

 

United, Continental merger will create costly monopoly

 

Portland and Cumberland County officials, the governor, attorney general and the whole Maine congressional delegation should tenaciously oppose the recently proposed merger of United and Continental Airlines.

Many may recall the days when Delta Air Lines was the only act in Portland, when the leg from Portland to a Boston connection cost as much as that from Boston to the West Coast. Delta had a stranglehold on Maine, charging near usurious prices, a booty, to leave Portland.

People commonly drove to Boston and parked a car for a week for less money than the cost of the Portland-Boston leg.

I travel on average twice a month from Portland to Los Angeles on Continental or United, depending on price and schedule. They are the most efficient means. Any other option takes more time and is less convenient.

If the federal government allows this merger, the resulting carrier will have a stranglehold on Maine, and ticket prices will soar. There are other cities nationwide in the same predicament who should also strongly oppose this merger.

Here are some quotes from May 10 Bloomberg Business Week magazine on the merger.

A Piper Jaffray airline analyst, Douglas Runte, wrote, “But the immense challenges should not be underestimated. U.S. aviation history is littered with the debris of airline mergers.”

According to the article, a United- Continental combination will surpass Delta as the top U.S. carrier on routes across the Atlantic with a 40 percent share, and a 53 percent share of all traffic on Pacific routes.

Increased fares from this market domination for all Americans, including Mainers, will be in addition to the booty charged for leaving Maine.

Runte’s article goes on to note the merger of U.S. Airways and America West after five years has still been unable to integrate operations, continuing to maintain two separate sets of work rules at additional costs.

Carl J. VanderPutten, D.O.

Gray

 

 

New health care law better than present plans

 

After readiing Dean Scontras’ bash of Rep. Chellie Pingree, his prospective opponent in November, I won’t point out all its flaws, but one really stands out.

He says under the new health care law she voted for, a government panel will decide who will get health care.

Could it be any worse than what we have now: insurance companies’ claims review clerks?

Robert Marsh

Sanford