Are we better off today than we were four years ago?

Let’s remember the autumn of 2008:

In September, financial giant Lehman Brothers shocked the country with its bankruptcy. Other national banks and insurance companies teetered.

The stock market dropped precipitously — sometimes as much as 500 points per day.

Then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson warned that our entire economy could collapse and pleaded with Congress for $700 billion.

Locally, we worried: Could our community banks fail?

We were fighting two wars. Thousands of American lives had been lost; billions of dollars had been spent.

Osama bin Laden had eluded us for seven years.

Massive layoffs had begun and would skyrocket at year’s end.

The American automobile industry was on the verge of collapse.

Housing prices had been falling since 2007.

  If a person was ill, he/she could be denied health insurance coverage because of “pre-existing conditions.”

I strongly believe that — as a nation — we are better off than four years ago.

It’s true that the recovery has been agonizingly slow. But despite continued hardship, our economy has stabilized and has begun to grow again.

Our troops are home from Iraq, and our war-weary nation is looking at the end of our involvement in Afghanistan. Al-Qaida leaders are dead. And for the first time, health insurance is protected for those who are sick — the most vulnerable among us.

President Obama led us through very difficult times.

We need to stick with him for another four years.

Nancy Greene

Auburn

People I have been talking to for weeks about the election have a standard excuse for the terrible job Barack Obama has done as president: “Look at the mess he inherited!”

Really?

What they mean is he was in over his head from day one! Yet at the end of President Bush’s term, the country was coming out of the recession!

Let’s compare where we stood when George W. Bush left office and where we stand now:

Then: AAA credit rating vs. Now: AA credit rating.

Then: 7.6 percent unemployment vs. Now: 8.3 percent unemployment … for 42 straight months.

Then: 26 weeks unemployment benefits vs. Now: 99 weeks of benefits.

Then: gasoline $1.81/gallon vs. Now: $3.89/gallon.

Then: $10 trillion national debt vs. Now: $16 trillion.

Then: 23.5 million people on food stamps vs. Now: 39.5 million.

Then: Bush left Obama a budget vs. Now: No budget since Obama took office.

President Obama has no excuse. He bungled the task of leading the country economically and philosophically, yet blames his predecessor and the Republican Party.

I’m stunned that his star-struck idolators cannot see that the man has “clay feet” and that he needs to move on to a job with less responsibility.

Rose Marie Russell

Westbrook

Cremation story overlooks impact on grieving process

I think your article in the Sept. 9 Maine Sunday Telegram concerning cremation missed the mark (“Will you choose to be cremated?”).

There have been many stories recently regarding cremation — its cost, its acceptance by consumers and society as a whole and the statistics demonstrating its bright future. All of this, I believe, most of society already knows.

As a licensed funeral director, I find that many families experiencing a death in the family initially ask for cremation, thinking that it’s the only decision they have to make. In reality, cremation is one form of disposition, the others being earth or sea burial.

Most families don’t realize that they are missing the more important question: How will we honor our loved one’s memory? Maybe that is what should have been your question on the front page.

Will we view and have a service prior to cremation? Will we cremate and then have a service?

If society looks at cremation without some sort of ceremony where friends gather around the grieving family and support them at a time when it is needed the most, we will be losing the best opportunity to begin the grieving/healing process that is so necessary to a future without our loved one in it.

Douglas R. Bibber

funeral director

Damariscotta

Editorial on liquor prices espouses outdated views

I couldn’t believe that you would demean your newspaper with that lead editorial Sept. 8 (Our View, “Don’t lower liquor prices to boost sales”).

Wow! The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union still does control Maine. I couldn’t believe I was reading something so old-fashioned as your editorial encouraging high liquor prices to reduce the temptations of liquor. Right out of the ’20s!

Of course I grew up in that den of sin, Massachusetts, and then spent most of my adult life in that other awful sin pit, New York, so I understand the real (bad) world (and was grievously scarred by it).

I so enjoy having the privilege of paying extra for each bottle I buy here to support your dogma. But better than that, I enjoy it more buying liquor myself in New Hampshire and via friends coming through New Hampshire every chance I get to avoid your stupid pricing.

And oh, by the way, stop driving readers and subscribers away from your newspaper with editorials like that.

F. Parker Bartlett

subscriber

Boothbay Harbor

Acquisition of Mercy could bring both sides to center

The state of Maine is decidedly liberal — especially southern Maine and especially the medical community. Yet here Mercy Hospital has found that its best option for survival is that bastion of corporate conservatism, the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, through its subsidiary Steward Health Care System.

It is hoped that the symbiosis of these two extremes will combine to improve our local community — and perhaps ameliorate the harshness of today’s political environment.

John Roediger

South Portland