We need better anti-poverty policies

Thanks to columnist Greg Keisch, who uttered the unutterable word in politics today, poverty (“Poverty in Portland should be top issue in mayorality campaign,” Aug. 31). Unfortunately, Kesich, much like most American politicians, tends to become very vague when he and they speak about poverty.

However, we do know some of the answers to not only poverty, but America’s increasingly downwardly mobile middle class.

First of all, we need to look at the astronomical growth in housing costs in the Portland area. There are many policies to control housing prices, including rent control, and there are many ways to leverage money to build affordable housing.

Portland is actually a laggard in this area compared to other cities and counties.

Second, there are issues of low wages in Maine compared to costs, particularly in southern Maine, which are very high. We need to look at liveable wage campaigns and other ways to bring benefits up so that the large percentage of people in Portland who can’t afford to live here have a chance.

I would vote for someone who made specific policy proposals to affect poverty and low wages and high rents in Portland.

I will be surprised, though, if any of the candidates actually do.

David Wagner

Portland 

Why is anyone worried about S&P bond ratings?

While I am very concerned about the financial condition of our country, I cannot imagine why anyone cares about the ratings given to Treasury bonds by Standard & Poor’s.

We need to remember this is the company that oh-so-carefully rated AIG, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns. S&P failed to notice that these corporations were collapsing.

In the larger view, S&P completely failed to predict the financial meltdown of the late-2000s.

That grand error shows them to be either negligent or complicit in the world financial collapse. I would hate to think that their opinions matter now.

Lary Shaffer

Scarborough 

Gov. Perry doesn’t admit what Texas owes military

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is fond of attacking the federal government at the drop of his 10-gallon hat. Sometimes, if the audience is open to the idea, Perry will even throw words like “secession” around to really get the crowd enthusiastic.

I understand that a disconnect between words and reality is a hallmark of neo-conservative personalities and politicians, but Perry is an extreme even among extremes.

Forget for a moment that the anti-government crusader had no qualms taking federal stimulus funds, the same federal stimulus he will no doubt rail against during his campaign.

There is an even more obvious example of Perry’s selective blindness when it comes to federal dollars: that there are more than a dozen Army, Air Force and Navy facilities located in the state of Texas along with the more than 100,000 active duty military personnel based there.

I’m not sure if Gov. Perry knows this, but those 100,000-plus soldiers, sailors and airmen are all federal government employees. Countless private businesses cater to military personnel and their families as well, making the economic ripple even wider. The positive economic impact of those federally funded bases and installations for the state of Texas is in the billions of dollars.

If you have any doubts about that, recall how hard Maine and New Hampshire senators and representatives fought for the Brunswick Naval Air Station and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Those installations and their economic footprints are small compared to Texas mega-bases such as Ft. Hood and Lackland Air Force Base.

Gov. Perry likes to portray Texas as an economic island unto itself that prospers not with help from, but in spite of, Washington. He has the right to that fantasy, but I hope that Republican primary voters can see around the empty hat and glimpse reality.

Jeremy Smith

Old Orchard Beach 

Bad economy Reagan’s fault? Surely you remember Carter

When I read John Wood’s letter on Aug. 27 (“Pitch in to restore the economy”), I had to respond.

The problem with our economy started with President Ronald Reagan listening to economists like the Nobel-Prize-winning Milton Friedman, according to Mr. Wood.

What alternative universe did he and other people who believe that reside in while Jimmy Carter was president? I recall the Carter days, and they were far, far worse than when Reagan was elected and turned the sinking ship around.

Since Reagan, we have had moderate Republicans George H.W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush, who both continued spending along with Bill Clinton, who also continued the entitlements to which Americans have slowly become addicted.

President Obama has pushed 10 times faster in the same failing direction. I watch as liberals scratch their heads and some seem panicked as Obama’s plans are failing before our eyes.

Americans more and more have been moving from providers to consumers of the welfare state. Simple math shows this cannot continue.

Liberals are biting the very hand that feeds them and do not even seem to realize it. Continue attacking business and jobs will continue to disappear.

Robert Moore

Falmouth 

Thanks to those who helped minimize Irene’s impacts

It’s not an accident that most of us in Portland didn’t lose power while Irene pounded the city.

Some would say we were lucky, and that’s surely true, too. But let’s say thanks to the generations of engineers, managers, technicians and yes, regulators and inspectors, who designed and implemented a good system and who still maintain and monitor it.

Over the years, people certainly held out for a decision to do it right, when they could have cut a few corners and saved some short-term dollars.

For that, and for the privilege of riding out this and many other storms with the lights and the electronics and the refrigerator on, we really do owe a debt of gratitude.

Patricia Garrett

Portland