Please convey my utter disgust to Washington for the poor performance from both sides of the aisle in handling our country’s finances.

I believe I speak for the majority of rational Americans — and citizens and governments the world over — who watched with absolute horror as responsibility gave way to partisan brinkmanship in the face of consequences that threatened to pitch us from the worst recession in history into a financial crisis that lacks either definition or precedent.

There are no winners — not the wealthy, not the common man, not other nations, and certainly no political party. The biggest losers in all of this are the citizens of the United States, who are stuck with a dysfunctional government — one that I and many others are sick of paying for.

I want to see responsible action in Washington. I want to see subsidies for oil and corn and other ridiculous uses stopped. I want to see excessively wealthy individuals and corporations paying their share of the freight.

I want to see social programs that support the working class, reduce unemployment, care for our elderly and infirm, and ensure high-quality education. I want to see support for research and development of technology that will ensure a sustainable future and replace old technology that is destroying our world and its scarce resources.

I want our military to be for defense and protection of our homeland and to get out of areas it doesn’t belong. I want to see a balanced budget, debt reduction and a government that works together to solve these solvable issues.

Yes, it can be done, and doing so would demonstrate the responsible government and leadership that we expect, pay for and are depending on.

Peter Brown

Kennebunk

By threatening the U.S. economy with Armageddon, the Republicans have now prevailed in imposing their policy of trickle-down economics on the American people.

This policy success comes on the heals of Republican success last fall in extracting continued tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest citizens.

This is a benchmark moment. Republicans have consistently insisted that the only way to experience job growth and economic prosperity is through tax cuts and a reduction in government spending. Their demands have now been met. Their trickle-down economic policy is firmly in place.

Republicans and Democrats should acknowledge that this policy is now in force so that the party that created it can bask in its future success or be held accountable for its failure.

We should also note that this trickle-down economic policy is exactly the opposite of the policy preferences of most Democrats. Most Democrats believe that the way you shrink government spending, as a percentage of gross domestic product, is to grow GDP. In a recession or depression, this requires government investment in GDP through investing in the nation’s infrastructure and its people. Just as in business, you spend money to make money.

Democrats also believe that those who are in the most secure financial position — those who have, for whatever reason, benefited most from our political and economic system — have a responsibility to contribute most to the support of that political and economic system through a progressive tax code.

Republicans have accomplished through blackmail what they could not accomplish at the ballot box. Maine’s two Republican senators were quick to argue that the end justified the means. Perhaps. We will now see if this policy works for most Americans.

Dwight H. Ely

Scarborough

I hear grumblings about third-party candidates after feeling betrayed with the passage of the latest compromise debt-ceiling bill. For now, let’s not panic because we didn’t get what we wanted in this round.

The first battle and victory was 2010. It’s foolishness to believe that ended the mess in Washington. This would not have been a debate had it not been for those tea party-backed freshmen pushing this as far as it went.

They are not yet strong enough to accomplish the goals of smaller, limited government and bringing deficit spending under control with a balanced-budget process. The process must continue giving them the support they need by ensuring the election of more conservative-minded candidates in Congress, especially the Senate. Let’s not forget the extreme importance of getting the White House, too.

Let’s remember how long this deal took because of their opposition. Some may have been disappointed in the end, and rest assured they’ll have to own up to that with their constituents back home. But having more representatives like them going shoulder-to-shoulder will bring much more strength to get done the important tasks at hand. With a Senate out of the stronghold of the Reid-led Democrats and an agreeable White House, perhaps the ultimate results we are looking for will be at hand.

After 2012, if those elected mirror the voices of the American people, we will see those results be positive. However, if those elected continue on the same path as before, then we must begin the third-party initiative. I’m willing to keep the fight going, but cooler heads must prevail and have the patience to see this through. Let it be known — our patience is running thin.

Jeff Wolkens

Topsham

It’s a growing pain to get a handle on things because while screaming about the “liberal” media, the extreme right has succeeded in taking over the media and is managing what we see, what we hear, and even what is available for us to read.

Let us face a discernible reality: There is no “left” anymore in America. There is simply a small group of Americans knowledgeable enough in history, and socioeconomic history in particular, to recognize socioeconomic warfare when we see it.

It’s a clear-cut case of big-money interests operating at global levels against “we the people,” who must somehow work to earn a living that is becoming progressively scant.

Using our tax dollars to subsidize corporations that send jobs overseas and furthering corporate interests via wars in the Middle East are but the tip of the iceberg that is sinking our domestic Titanic.

A major case in point is the tea party, which has finagled and screamed about government spending. Where was the tea party during the past 30 years, in which the colossal deficit was brought on mostly by those they have sided with?

They only arose to provide a means to reduce the funds available to underwrite the enforcement of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and all those things that have become essential to our collective health and well-being because of a lack of social responsibility on the part of certain corporations, energy sellers, insurance companies and banks too big to care.

Cutting the size of government and reducing spending are just Orwellian doublespeak for cutting down the agencies that had to be put in place to monitor the lack of social responsibility on the part of all the big-money interests that are behind this movement.

It is time for prayer as well as a wake-up call. All of our lives will be further shortchanged and shortened if they get away with this devilish socioeconomic strategem.

George Eaton

South Portland

When President Obama took office, the price of gas was $1.87 a gallon, and look at what it is today. What has he done to ease America’s pain at the pump? Why, calling for increased taxes on the oil industry.

In case our good president doesn’t realize it, oil companies don’t pay taxes. Any money they send to Washington in the form of taxes is added to the price we pay at the pump. So Obama’s proposal is a tax increase on all of us, which has been one of his goals since taking office.

He has also done everything in his power to hold down oil production in this country. Oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has not returned to pre-spill levels because of rules put in place by his administration. He has done everything he could to discourage exploration for new sources of oil in this country, and there has not been any increase in oil refining capacity.

While Americans are suffering pain at the pump, there is one group that is benefiting from Obama’s policies: his Arab buddies in the Middle East. Remember, this is the same president who returned a state gift to England but kissed the ring of King Abdullah.

Obama has got his priorities, but easing Americans’ pain at the pump at the expense of his Arab buddies is not one of them.

Raymond T. West

Topsham

Education still the key to stop teen pregnancy

Teen pregnancy is a huge issue that affects many families in the United States. As the number of teenagers becoming sexually active rises, so does the risk of getting pregnant.

According to Planned Parenthood, 80 percent of all Americans have sexual intercourse before the age of 20. One out of 20 females between the ages of 16 and 20 ends up having an unintended pregnancy. About 53 percent of teen boys say they don’t always use a condom and, among girls, about two-thirds say a condom isn’t always used.

Parenthood is the leading reason why teen girls drop out of high school and don’t attend college. Many teen girls think it’s “in” to have children at a younger age. The result is the children of teenage parents receive inadequate medical care, have more problems in school, and spend more time in prison than children of adult parents.

MTV reality shows “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” show the struggles that teenagers go through to raise their children. When shows like these become extremely popular, one can’t help but be concerned about some teens who would want to get pregnant just to appear on TV.

But “16 and Pregnant” does provide a lot of insight about pregnancy and the problems that go with it. I think more effective education to teach safe sex, and provide the means to have it, can make a difference.

Teens can be taught to avoid teen pregnancy if society accepts the responsibility to equip them with the skills to succeed.

Taryn Kaczmarek

Gorham