I would like to write an obituary about an old and productive friend: the U.S. space program.

As we all know, July 8’s launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis marked the end of our manned space program!

I grew up during the “space race.” I started teaching after the moon landing in 1969. I remember the challenging words that President Kennedy spoke in the ’60s that started our serious entry into space. At the time, people talked about wasting money in space and how we should spend the money here on Earth.

We need to be reminded that the money was spent on Earth! Thousands were employed in good-paying jobs. New technologies and products were produced. Does anyone remember Tang?

Of course, a juice drink was minor compared with the technological advancements.

Do you realize you have more computing capability in your smartphone than they did on the first Mercury mission, thanks in no small part to the space program? Do you realize that most of what we have today is a direct or indirect result of our space program?

The really sad and potentially negative offshoot of dropping our leadership role in space exploration and innovation is telling our children that dreaming about innovation, exploration and the future possibilities isn’t a worthwhile pursuit!

How can we encourage our young people to study more math and science when we show them that there is no future in those fields? Why would anyone want to be a “rocket scientist” in today’s world?

The movie “October Sky” shows how the launch of Sputnik spurred the U.S. to promote math and science like it had never done before. Now the only way we can get our astronauts into space is in a Soviet spacecraft.

It is now time to mourn the loss of a good and productive friend: the U.S. space program.

May it rest in peace and may we not regret our decision, as I fear we will.

Steve C. Pomelow

Gorham

Budget crisis fault of Republicans, Congress 

The first secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton, recognized in 1789 the importance of establishing a good credit standing for his new country.

Toward this end he had the federal government assume the foreign debt of the states, some of which otherwise would have defaulted.

Throughout American history, Hamilton has been a conservative icon because of his dedication to ensuring that his country would always honor its financial obligations.

Standing the dictionary definition of “conservative” on its head, the current leadership of the Republican Party is prepared to end this 222-year-long tradition unless it is successful in preserving unconscionable tax breaks for a thin sliver of the very wealthiest Americans.

This thin sliver now holds an unprecedented share of our national wealth and has been able to use this wealth to dominate our politics.

Republicans argue that reducing the after-tax income of this group would “destroy jobs,” whereas spending their tax money for such things as necessary infrastructure maintenance would hurt the economy.

This argument would be ludicrous if it were not for the real suffering of our unemployed.

Government spending to rebuild decaying bridges clearly creates jobs, while money in the hands of the very rich may well result in more investment in factories in Bangladesh or China, or it may simply be blown in gambling casinos.

The Bush administration tax cuts for our wealthiest citizens did not produce jobs; its policies led to financial collapse.

The Republican presidential contenders who are now in Congress say that they will vote against increasing the debt limit. Increasing it is absolutely necessary to prevent default on debts already incurred, with unforeseen and likely disastrous consequences.

Threatening the world with economic suicide is an act not of responsible and patriotic Americans, but of irresponsible cynics and fanatic extremists.

Meredith N. Springer

Scarborough 

As soon as Barack Obama was elected in 2008, Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rush Limbaugh, said time and time again that their main priority was to make Obama a one-term president.

For him, in fact, to “fail.” Their main priority. Not jobs, not debt, not health care, not climate change or any of the myriad of real issues that face us all, regardless of party.

Well, just recently, when asked the question, on national television, if his main priority was still to make Obama a one-term president, McConnell affirmed that was his “single most important goal.”

It would seem to me, if Obama is trying to move the country forward and try to fix some of these problems that frankly, he inherited by the wild spending and tax cutting of the previous Republican administration, that McConnell is trying to do the exact opposite in order for Obama to fail, and thus become a one-term president.

I think it would be prudent of those who criticize Obama, myself among them, to ask themselves, what is he trying to do, what makes sense and is logical and who is fighting him tooth and nail every step of the way in order that he fail.

Bruce Maasbyll

South Portland 

How can we forget the reign of George W. Bush and the financial quagmire he got us into?

Tax breaks for the rich, war with Iraq over non-existent nukes, thousands of millions to bail out banks, mortgage-backed securities and the car industry.

Those people still get bonuses and health care. Thank you, Mr. Bush. Do we not remember the saying, “Those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat its mistakes”?

Is President Obama going to be forced to keep tax breaks for the rich while reducing Social Security payments, Medicare and Medicaid payments to the elderly and the poor?

Isn’t that robbing the poor to pay the rich? I thought it was supposed to be the other way around.

Congress just voted to give itself a pay raise and they keep their health insurance. They get paid vacations.

Alexandria Turek

Scarborough 

With all the bickering in Congress about the budget, I haven’t heard one word on congressmen taking a pay cut.

Bernadette Wahle

Raymond