As a doctor here in Maine, I have serious concerns about our national chemical policy.

This month marks the 35th anniversary of the signing of the Toxic Substances Control Act, a weak law that has allowed nearly 80,000 chemicals into consumer products without adequate safety testing.

I am outraged that this law has left children and grandchildren, including my own, vulnerable to chemicals that cause cancer, learning disabilities and other major health problems.

Maine’s Legislature has made great progress in recent years to phase out the worst of the worst chemicals from consumer products through the passage of the Kid Safe Products Law in 2008 and the banning of bisphenol A, or BPA, in 2011.

However, the nation’s problems with toxins are a systemic issue, and Maine needs its senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, to support real reform in Washington, D.C.

That’s why I am calling on Snowe and Collins to co-sponsor and support the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S.847).

If passed, the bill would give consumers the information they need to make informed decisions and would reduce our children’s risk of exposure to dangerous toxic chemicals.

The bill would require chemical manufacturers to provide information about the risks of chemicals they produce, and it would require the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate chemicals based on the risk they pose to human health and the environment.

Therefore, I strongly urge Snowe and Collins to co-sponsor this bill.

Tony Owens, M.D.

Cape Elizabeth

Better fuel efficiency would save us money

Regarding the Oct. 10 story, “Maine average gas price continues to fall”:

It’s a sign of the times when a drop in gas prices makes front- page news, as Maine families and businesses start to brace themselves for this winter’s heating bills.

Our addiction not only threatens our pocketbooks and economic recovery, but it also takes a tremendous toll on our environment, with oil the leading source of our most intractable environmental problems, including air and water pollution and global warming.

Fortunately, the Obama administration is developing new fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks through 2025 that will require new vehicles to average 54.5 miles per gallon. These standards, if finalized without loopholes, will cut gasoline use in Maine by 97 million gallons, saving Mainers more than $329 at the gas pump annually by 2030 and cutting pollution.

For the sake of our economy and environment, these new rules should be as strong as possible to start weaning Maine and our nation off oil.

Chris Gallagher


Legislators’ raises come at bad time for state

During these very hard times for all Maine’s people, our state legislators have taken from the people of Maine and given back to themselves.

They say they have to make so many hard decisions as far as where state money should go, and they talk about all these tough cuts that have to be made, and where does the money go? Back into the pockets of the legislators, when so many of Maine’s people and programs are suffering and being cut.

During the period of December 1, 2010, to June 29, 2011, the 125th Legislature gave itself a cost of living raise of 2.41 percent, which amounts to an increase of $326 to each legislator.

What kind of people take away from the people who elected them to office and give the money back to their own bank accounts?

Maine state retirees have not had a cost of living increase in three years. Many state programs have been cut and state taxpayers have paid the price, and yet these individuals, whom the people of Maine elected, find it just and right to give themselves a pay increase.

Plus, this is not the first time in the last four years that they have found it necessary to line their own pockets before helping the people who elected them to the positions they have.

What kind of people have we elected to speak for all of us when they think of themselves first? These increases can be verified through the office of the executive director for the Legislative Council.

Shame on all of you in the Maine Legislature!

Robert F. Tomlins


New payment model cuts doctors’ caseload

In the Oct. 10 Maine Voices column (“Got patients? Doctors exploring new approach to health care in Maine”), Jim Kerney’s analysis of current doctor-patient relationships covers many of the trends occuring locally. However, it might be informative to elaborate on some of the issues he raised.

He mentions a new payment model that adopts a “per member per month” care management fee. An example of this arrangement is that one local physician recently told his patients that they will now have to pay him $1,500 per year ($3,000 per couple) in order to remain in his practice. This will allow him to reduce his patient load from about 2,000 down to 600, thus giving him an income of $900,000 per year.

According to Google’s reports on similar physician arrangements, he will keep $600,000 of this for his operations and send the remaining $300,000 to MDVIP, Procter & Gamble’s wholly-owned affiliate in Boca Raton, Fla.

This $1,500 annual charge is in addition to all of the usual bills for medical services that a patient would have to pay anyway.

For Medicare patients, this is a stratagem for exceeding the fee limitations administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Donald J. Morton, Ph.D.


Public outrage must be channeled into action

Wall Street protests and growing media reports show a groundswell of public outrage that will shape the next election. America is in trouble on all fronts.

In their insightful new book, “That Used to Be Us,” Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum detail what’s wrong with America and how to fix it.

Five pillars that made this country great are all in decline: public education, infrastructure, immigration, research and development, and regulation.

As a nation, we have become dumber, fatter, lazier, older, poorer and unemployed. We also have allowed a corporate-run government, paid off by the rich, to redirect most of the wealth against the common good. If we don’t reverse this downward spiral, we will be left behind a developing world to face a bleak, painful future.

We are still a great people. We have used our creative diversity and collective will before to defeat seemingly insurmountable odds, and we must do so again now. We have a year to find and elect extraordinary, bold leaders who will face reality, tell the truth and show the way. Corrupted, partisan obstructionists must be swept aside. We have to bite the bullet and make the investments and fair sacrifices that will restore our leadership in the world.

It will take all of us to do that. Many groups, like the Wall Street demonstrators and the American Dream Movement, are fighting back. Let’s pay attention and support them any way we can, while we still have a chance to save our country.

David Estey


Unemployed, but not for want of looking

I am responding to George Fogg’s comment “Benefits of not working encourage unemployment.”

I realize that there are a number of people who don’t work and rely on assistance, stay at home, play video games, watch TV, do drugs and make babies.

This is not true of all the people who are unemployed, people who are looking for employment and not having results due to the high number of applicants for a position or the applicant’s age (Anyone over 60 can kiss an interview goodbye. Employers don’t want the elderly.) It’s not easy.

If Mr. Fogg has a job, he is lucky. There are so many that are unable to find a position, especially people past 60. These are the ones who give up. They don’t sit around watching TV, doing drugs, making babies, etc., they are out there trying to find a job.

So, Mr. Fogg, don’t just look around at the people who abuse the system, look at the number over 60 and understand they can’t find a job. Will you hire them?

June Watson


We are deflating as a nation strong on job security. I am a 25-year-old college graduate in the Bangor area who has waited more than a year now to obtain a job that is only seasonal and allots me (maybe) two shifts per week. I need President Obama’s jobs bill to pass.

My roommate is a 55-year-old woman who has had a job all her life. She has lived in the Bangor area for three years now and has received few bites for jobs, and none of those bites amounted to anything. She needs this bill to pass.

My 27-year-old friend who has many years of experience in the automotive industry has been stuck on the same level of employment at the same job for four years. There have been no attempts to promote him or raise his wage to a reasonable rate. He needs this bill to pass.

The American Jobs Act of 2011 would creat jobs and help get the economy moving right now with values based on the responsible being rewarded, that hard work pays, and everyone in the nation playing on the same field.

Do not allow the personal agendas and petty hang-ups of your congressperson stop the progress we all need to rebuild prosperity in the United States. This bill is not an attack on any subgroup of citizens. This is a fair shot at a better tomorrow for everyone.

Whether you’re looking for work, better pay, you’re a business owner trying to make ends meet, or simply a prosperous worker who believes in the equality of all citizens, you need to promote this message and put people back to work.

Jesse Call