On Sept. 6, the Press Herald carried a front-page article, “Looking out for the working class: Maine unions rally to preserve rights,” in which a labor leader was quoted as saying, “The interests of business are about profits, and they are clearly in opposition to the interests of working people.”

There seems to be an unfortunate attitude among some Mainers that, in particular, large, out-of-state-based, for-profit companies are not welcome and their profit-driven, evil business owners and executives conspire to mistreat and underpay their workers.

Profits made by small, Maine-based businesses are more tolerated. But these small businesses don’t create very many high-paying jobs for the “working people.”

Recently, State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin observed that a major problem complicating efforts to improve Maine’s economy is the lack of both high-wage earners and a much larger private business sector that would be necessary to raise the state’s standard of living.

A state which has above-national-average costs, such as for energy, insurance, public assistance and taxes, and thinks that they can be paid for by small businesses and households with below-national-average per-capita income, is clearly on the road to economic collapse and real Appalachian-style poverty.

The view that the interests of business and workers are diametrically opposed is counterproductive. That large “from away” companies and corporations are to be discouraged from locating/expanding their businesses here is incredibly naive.

The acceptance by too many Mainers that greater economic prosperity is unachievable, believing that “this is the way life should be,” is both alarming and self-defeating.

Continuing to demonize the private- sector business community is leading to a weaker and weaker economy. If Mainers really want greater prosperity, attitudes must change.

Bill Underwood

Springvale

Congratulations to Teamsters General President James Hoffa for telling it like it is. Those were tough words he used (at a Labor Day rally in Detroit, he asked the crowd to vote against tea party-backed candidates, saying, “Let’s take these sons of bitches out”) but that’s what it will take to keep our unions strong in America.

In answer to a question as to whether his language was too strong, he responded by asking, “What else do you call someone who wants to take away what we feel is important, including our pension; what kind of person would do that?”

What is vital for workers today is to maintain all of the hard-fought rights that we have gained over the years

None of those rights under the law and under our collective bargaining agreements were freely given to us.

Someone had to fight, strike or lose their jobs, and many worked their entire lives for those bargaining rights we now have.

Any political party that plans ways to take what we have won for workers has been rightly branded by Hoffa.

And that also goes for those who have a responsibility to enforce those laws and for those who look the other way and make excuses for not enforcing our rights, our contracts and our countless age-old past practices that make work safe and tolerable for everyone, union and otherwise.

Robert L. Piccone

President Emeritus

Teamsters Local 340

Portland

Recruiters in schools work for students’ benefit

I do feel sorry for the individual who is threatened by seeing a military recruiter on public high school property.

I am a parent of two public high school graduates, both currently in college and one who has already served in the military. As a military recruiter, I have seen the positive side of us being on your campus.

From an average-size public or private high school, we recruit about two young adults a year. As a whole, to keep you free, the U.S. military needs to recruit approximately 100,000 individuals a year to maintain its current strength.

At today’s high school, we need positive role models more than ever. At most high schools that I’ve visited, the lack of discipline and structure in some rooms is appalling. I have been handed classrooms that have been allowed to run amok until I stand up in front of the room to teach.

We always encourage the students to stay in school and out of trouble. We encourage higher education, fitness discipline and becoming a better you. We lead by example, which the students love.

I am truly sorry if some parents are misinformed on the positive impact we are having on their children.

We are serving proudly in your town and high school. Our role is important, as I’m sure yours is. But we are here for your own well-being and your children’s, too. I recommend visiting a country that is not free to learn what our military has accomplished.

Two final things: The very few JROTC high school units in existence are full of unbelievably proud and unique kids who enjoy immensely what they do. Second, if you have a problem with wars this country is involved in, bring it up with President Obama, not a military recruiter.

Tim Halpin

Portland

Bond-rating downgrade entirely fault of Congress

The downgrading of the U.S. Treasury bonds by Standard & Poor’s had nothing to do with the fall in the market, the unemployment rate or the national economy, but, as pointed out by economic experts, it was solely due to the failure of Congress to function as it should to lessen our debt.

The limit that House Speaker John Boehner put on the “deal” was not to allow taxes to be put on the highest incomes, over $250,000 a year.

Our wealthiest would certainly feel the tax the least and contribute where it will be needed the most toward bringing the national debt under control.

The time has come to put an end to a non-functioning government, posing and posturing for personal and political gain.

The American public demands better. It is time for free, government-financed elections, paid for by a box on tax returns to be checked to allow political deductions to finance congressional elections.

Philip Thompson

Portland