The recent articles and editorial on the “rising state pension liability” and “state workers joining Social Security” mention that more than half of the state workers fail to vest in the retirement system and do not receive a state pension. They “relinquish all the contributions that the state made on their behalf.”

Of equal importance is that these same public employees are allowed to withdraw their 7.65 percent contributions from the retirement system if they leave public employment before retirement age. (This is not allowed under Social Security.)

When this happens, these individuals lose all credit for future retirement benefits for their years of public employment. This can have a serious impact on their future and can possibly cause them to have to rely on public assistance in their senior years.

I know of an individual who had two extended periods of state employment. After leaving state employment, this individual withdrew the contributions and spent these funds both times rather than invest them for the future. The future is bleak without the possibility of retirement income based on these years of employment.

Unless the state does the unexpected and places all new state and local employees under Social Security next year, the state should consider restricting the withdrawal of employee retirement contributions for all employees who have had, say, one year or more of employment.

These contributions could be invested and made available upon retirement. Understandably, the state retirement system would not welcome this additional burden.

Another option would be to turn the withheld contributions over to Social Security to give the former public employees half credit for their years of public employment.

Our legislative delegation would have to be brought into this effort to amend the Social Security law to allow such an option. But, the benefit of assured additional retirement income for our former public servants would be worth it.

Harold Parks

Gorham

 

Letting climate-change bill fall short was huge mistake

 

I am writing in response to the July 24 article, “Lack of climate-change bill disappoints Maine senators.” Our senators are not the only people who are disappointed and concerned about this step in the wrong direction.

There are so many reasons to support this legislation that I am having difficulty understanding why the Senate has given up so quickly.

For too long our country has been harmed by a continual dependence on fossil fuels. Oil pollutes our oceans, destroys our fisheries and the money we spend to buy it props up regimes like the one governing Iran that fund terrorist groups.

Leaving out the geopolitics, much of the money we spend at the pump bleeds out of the American economy, never to be cycled back into the country again. Our economy is a shambles and needs a new source of productivity and our climate is quickly reaching a tipping point. But where is the vision to take us in a new direction?

There is overwhelming support for comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. But given the news from Washington last week, our senators may not appreciate just how strong this support is.

Get with it, senators; if you hear us, show us you’re listening. At least give us a better reason for your delay other than, “We don’t have the votes.” Let the far right-wing reactionaries filibuster your legislation, but don’t go on your August break with barely an ounce of effort expended. Your next fundraiser can wait. We elected you, now represent us.

Polly Shaw

Bath

As we witness the worst industry-caused environmental catastrophe in our history, the worst coal mining disaster in 40 years, and sweat through the hottest first 6 months of any year on record, it is clear that there’s never been a more urgent time to move forward with a clean energy and climate policy.

Unfortunately, the big polluters and their army of Washington lobbyists have once again maintained their grip on America’s energy policy by preventing the Senate from acting on comprehensive energy legislation.

The failure to act means that America will continue to send $1 billion a day overseas to buy oil, China will continue to race ahead in creating the jobs of the future, and pollution will continue to increase at home.

In short, China will get more of our jobs, the Middle East more of our money, and Americans will be left with more pollution and fewer jobs. A minority, led by the Republican leadership, has obstructed the opportunity to solve America’s energy problems, preferring to leave the big polluters and petro-dictators in control of our energy policy.

I hope that it does not take a massive oil spill in Casco Bay in order for Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to vote to end our dependence on carbon-based fuels.

Lindsay Rowe

Portland

It was with deep disappointment that I read your recent report that the U.S. Senate has decided to set aside plans for comprehensive energy/ climate change legislation.

With the current Gulf Coast oil spill catastrophe, deaths of miners in coal mines, deadly rivers of fly ash and mountaintop removal, not to mention the calamitous possibilities of climate change, there can be no reasonable doubt regarding the urgency of getting off a petroleum-based economy.

It is in our environmental, our economic, and our national security interests to do so.

I was further distressed by Sens. Olympia Snowe’s and Susan Collins’ disingenuous comments blaming Democratic leadership for the failure to act. Both of our senators, to their credit, have done some positive work on this problem.

But I believe if they had clearly telegraphed intentions to their Republican colleagues that they were motivated and committed to seeing legislation enacted despite the political costs, we would be seeing legislation moving forward.

Maine has a stong and proud heritage of having senators from both parties who demonstrated courage, integrity and leadership on the vital issues of their day. Sens. Margaret Chase Smith, Edmund Muskie and George Mitchell are among them.

My hope is that for the good of the country, after the August recess, our present two senators will decide to recommit yet stronger efforts to enact energy and climate change legislation.

Ann Morrill

South Portland

 

Here’s a useful hint: Bring Heloise back to the paper

 

The very idea of not running Heloise any more. What happened?

But you still run two advice-to-the-lovelorn columns. Why not just one, if you must run any?

Please, run Heloise again. We miss her terribly.

Jean Fields

Portland