On the surface, Maine’s Medicare and Medicaid achievements outlined in a Maine Voices column as keeping seniors healthy and making sure children and families have access to health care are nearly impossible to criticize (“Votes for Medicare, Medicaid funding will aid many Mainers,” Aug. 7).

It is only when the mounting costs of these programs, to both state and federal government, are examined that they become juicy targets for budget rhetoric.

The authors point proudly at Maine’s low percentage of uninsured patients, for which they say MaineCare is largely responsible. On the flip side, Maine House Republicans looking at the same data from a different perspective say this is nothing to be proud of, with 19 per cent more Mainers on Medicaid than the national average.

No matter how you slice it, we have a lot of Mainers receiving state-funded medical insurance and it costs a lot (more than $1 billion) to pay for them.

Frankly, our state and federal budgets are in for some serious cuts in the coming years, which could spell carnage, not only for Medicare and Medicaid, but for entitlement programs across the board. If we don’t tighten our fiscal belt, some economists say we’ll face a day of economic reckoning down the road.

But Republicans who rally around a vague crusade to cut entitlement spending as a quick fix to budget woes should shudder at the fact that 40 percent of MaineCare recipients are children.

So how are we possibly going to cut entitlement spending without cutting important health benefits to children? Such a task awaits our next governor and state representatives. The modernization of Maine’s government won’t happen at the flick of anyone’s wand. It will require great leadership and, quite frankly, a lot of brains and creativity. Choose wisely.

Rob Macdonald
Cape Elizabeth

 

Too many Maine workers do without paid sick time

 

I was disappointed by the message in “Paid sick time rejected by Maine legislators for very good reasons” (Maine Voices, Aug. 5). Every one at one time or another gets sick but not all of us can afford to get well.

Too many workers in Maine have no paid sick days for themselves or their loved ones. As a working mother I am all too familiar with this dilemma.

My son is 5 years old and like any active kid, he gets sick from time to time. Although I’m fortunate enough to work for an employer who provides paid sick time for me to use to care for myself or my family, I have often thought about those who don’t have that basic right.

It’s a tightness in your chest, a knot in your stomach, when you are faced with the decision to send your child to school or day care when he’s sick or risk being fired from your job because you’re missing another day. No parent should have to go through this.

Bodi Luse
Portland

 

Right to build a mosque comes with a responsibility

 

Some thoughts after reading the Associated Press account of the president’s support of American values, including the right of Muslims to build a mosque.

While I agree with the principle, the president gravely missed the opportunity to call for Muslims around the world to denounce violence before erecting this mosque. We can not prevent it, but we sure can bargain for more responsible behavior before approving the insensitive erection of a mosque near ground zero.

I am absolutely furious, outraged and apoplectic about the president’s insensitivity to the country’s distrust of Muslims and how it makes us feel to have that mosque erected in Manhattan — betrayed by Muslims and betrayed by our president.

I submit this with the absolute minimum of respect for this president.

Brian C. Jones
Scarborough

 

World Cup softball report treated a champ badly

 

I was appalled by your report on Women’s World Cup softball in the July 27 newspaper. No photos. No real coverage. Just a blurb, “Finch propels USA past Japan in World Cup final, ends international career as champion,” and three paragraphs with the final sentence, “(Jenny Finch) didn’t allow a run in 182/3 innings although she wasn’t much of a factor in her final game.”

What? The score was 5-1. What kind of factor did the writer think she should be? Why put the last part of the sentence in at all?

Jenny Finch is a champion. She helped USA “win its fourth straight World Cup of Softball title in Oklahoma City.” Why degrade her years of accomplishment by printing such garbage? It’s bad enough the coverage of the Softball World Cup was inadequate, we also have to read underhanded comments like the one above.

Fair coverage of women sports? What fairness? What coverage? Title IX is such a joke.

Jackie Freitas
Friendship

 

Criticism of USM leader failed to make its point

 

I’m sorry L. Morrill Burke didn’t like the “politically forced merger” that created the University of Southern Maine in 1970-71.

However, Burke’s commentary (“If USM is to be a teachers’ college again, why all the frills,” Aug. 14) doesn’t make much of a case for whatever point he thought he was making.

I question his assertion that the events of 40 years ago have anything substantive to do with today’s challenges. I fail to see what spreading dye, cell phones and aging trees have to do with what President Selma Botman is trying to accomplish.

I’m astonished by his repeated sneers at Botman’s handling of the language. The June 25 column he was criticizing was well constructed and logical. It provided reasoned argument and factual information in explaining what the university is doing and why.

The level of grammatical perfection was suitable for the venue and the intended readership.

The ultimate decision about the value of Burke’s contribution should rest on his statement that “Providing large numbers of students a university education is probably an oxymoron.” Heaven help the United States if, in today’s world, anyone takes him seriously.

Jim Milliken
Portland