After reading Davies Allan’s letter to the editor (“After vain pay hike request, strikers now public burden,” Jan. 8), I felt compelled to respond and educate Mr. Allan just a bit.

First and foremost: The strikers were not striking over pay. If that were the case, they would have been on strike for more than five-plus years now.

The Biddeford workers were making more per hour in 2003 than they were in 2012, and that’s before the 8 percent pay reduction in 2012 took place. The workers never once thought the pay “wasn’t good enough,” as Mr. Allan stated.

The issue was the stealing. The backbone of every worker’s retirement is planning, and the workers who Mr. Allan states want to “ride for free” have been very responsible, to the tune of putting aside 25 percent of their pay for retirement.

Up until August 2011, Hostess was sending those wages to the workers’ chosen destination: their pension fund. Then Hostess decided that a 300 percent wage increase for their CEO, among other things, was more important than safeguarding the workers’ retirement funds and started using those funds for their own benefit.

The workers tried for more than a year to get Hostess to return that money. Hostess was not only not returning it, but they were going to use U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, N.Y., to allow it to happen.

Even after the judge gave Hostess open reign to take what they wanted, the workers were still willing to work with Hostess, but only if the stealing of the pension funds stopped, an issue Hostess felt was not necessary to address.

One last fact: The average worker had about 15 years of seniority. That’s a lot of rowing of the boat they now, as Mr. Allan states, “ride in for free.”

John Jordan


As old, young vie for funds, Pentagon budget unscathed

In a recent Tribune Washington Bureau article on spending priorities (“Competing interests cloud spending picture,” Jan. 3), the author reduced the matter to an inevitable clash between two groups: those over 50 and those in their teens and 20s.

The gist of the article might be summed up as: Do we support health care and retirement benefits, or do we support education and job training?

This is a classic “divide and conquer” tactic to keep well-meaning segments of our society pitted against one another. This plays nicely into our love of events that produce winners and losers.

In fact, these two population segments are natural allies. On the one hand, people near retirement have decades of life skills and on-the-job experience that, if not passed down, will be lost. On the other hand, youth needs every bit of collective wisdom to manage a path into the future for themselves and their families

What is conspicuous by its absence in the article is any discussion of military spending. Federal military spending is the “elephant in the room” that no one wants to talk about today.

This has not always been the case.

On April 16, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his notable “Cross of Iron” speech, in which he spoke clearly and eloquently about a world dominated by military spending and militaristic policies. He said, “This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

In the next few months, there will be more arguments for diminished investment in programs that actually help people and our increasingly fragile planet. I would urge people to question such arguments.

Eisenhower’s words of April 1953 were true then, and are still true today. Can we afford to continue to be so reckless?

Tom Kircher


Popularity of ‘Chainsaw’ may signal mass madness

At all IMAX theaters and many others, the movie “Texas Chainsaw” is being shown, touted also to be in 3-D to add to your viewing experience. This movie is the No. 1 grossing (and gross) movie in the country presently.

Have we all gone so mad that the dismemberment of human beings is the theme of a vile form of movie entertainment? What next? A film version of the Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., tragedies for our debased viewing pleasure?

Linda Cornish Rioux

Old Orchard Beach

Gun rights facing threat; critics cite dubious data

The Jan. 5 Portland Press Herald had an above-the-fold piece (“Open carry law: Police chiefs in Maine seek tighter rules”) regarding the police chiefs in Maine looking at open-carry laws, to give them more authority to stop and question those who carry openly.

My guess is that it will not stop there, but they will further attempt to meddle with the Second Amendment rights that guarantee our freedoms.

Further, two writers of letters published that day (“Easy access enables gun tragedies“) show considerable ignorance of the facts about assault rifles.

One said he didn’t understand the need for semiautomatic rifles capable of firing hundreds of rounds. Many of Maine’s favorite deer rifles are so capable. Then he uses the term “clips,” which is incorrect; clips are used by the military in rifles of a bygone time as today’s AR-15 uses magazines.

The other letter writer doesn’t think that hunting requires “high-powered, high-capacity military weapons designed to kill.” Again, her ignorance is showing and is indicative of the common misunderstanding of the public at large.

The .223-caliber rifle that is being used by the military is not designed to kill but to wound. The military has long known that to wound is a more effective military tactic than killing.

The .223 is not a high-powered cartridge. Most knowledgeable gun people know that it is considered a varmint cartridge, less powerful than what most Maine hunters use for deer hunting.

Lastly, the second letter writer says we have “regulations for just about everything, but very few governing the sales and use of guns.” Wrong!

There are more than 20,000 gun laws in the USA, and that is part of the problem. There are so many they are ignored by the perpetrators in each and every incident. Adding more will not change the outcomes. It will only make the liberals feel better.

George A. Fogg

North Yarmouth