Shifting budget woes to the most vulnerable populations will result in a devastating blow to Maine’s low-income seniors and Maine taxpayers.

When people are hungry and cold, paying for medicine to treat chronic diseases will always come last. Survival struggles such as these will force the most vulnerable of populations to eat and stay warm rather than spend money on medicine.

The results of the elderly going without medicine may not be seen for months or years. Maine’s elderly health will decline, and Maine’s hospitals, clinics, nursing and boarding homes will become full of seniors with treatable diseases and preventable complications.

Providing a clinic in the most rural area of Maine to help elderly residents age in place has been my personal goal. Without this benefit, I fear the population I have diligently worked with to provide primary health care will be forced to move away from their homes and family and into residential and nursing facilities.

The short-sighted decision to remove the drug benefits from low-income seniors will be devastating not only to the health of the patients at my clinic in Allagash but to all low-income seniors in Maine. The high financial costs of untreated disease will ultimately shift to all of Maine’s taxpayers.

Medicine to treat chronic disease for low-income seniors should always come first. These patients are the same people who worked their lifetimes in Maine, and I believe they deserve the best health care and the necessary medicines.

Paula Carson-Charette, FNP-C

Full Circle Health Care, Allagash

Fort Kent resident

With greater gender parity, better policymaking possible

What’s wrong with this picture?

Simpson-Bowles Committee: Fifteen men, three women.

Biden Deficit Commission: Six men, no women.

“Supercommittee” on Deficit Reduction: Eleven men, one woman.

Bipartisan immigration reform “Gang of Eight”: Eight men, no women.

Bipartisan gun policy reform group: Four men, no women.

At least in our own minds (tongue in cheek), women are recognized as multi-taskers and problem-solvers. It’s hard not to believe that if more congressional women had been involved in discussion of the tough issues facing our country, we would be much better off!

Now is the time for all of the “leaders” of the Senate and House to step down and let some real leaders take a shot at moving the country forward.

Anne B. Pringle

Portland

Government involvement no boon to railroad service

Interesting article by Colin Woodward on Feb. 4, “Expansion of passenger trains in Maine takes slow track.”

As noted in the article, the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which manages Amtrak’s Downeaster employees and trains, is a quasi-state agency. Amtrak, which owns those trains and hires those employees, is a quasi-federal agency.

Is that any way to run a railroad? Well, it worked for the Soviet Union, sort of, didn’t it?

John MacKillop

Brunswick

Don’t allow the carping few to determine pipeline’s fate

Regarding the recent protest march held in Portland in opposition to any use of the pipeline for the transportation of tar sands oil (“Huge crowd turns out to denounce possible transport of tar sands in region,” Jan. 27), I am confident that this small minority — bolstered by out-of-state “activists” — does not represent the opinion of the people of Maine.

I believe that Mainers have too much common sense to ban something for the abstract threat that a possible spill poses. No one wants to see oil spills, but the fact remains that we need energy. To block something because of a potential future risk is not rational policy or government.

As seen by the recent cold snap with the corresponding increase in fuel usage, the ever-increasing use and energy demand posed by electronic devices, and the myriad of other end users, the demand for energy is a constant.

Also, in a state where economic uncertainties are an everyday worry, Maine and Portland should act to make sure this opportunity for jobs, growth in the port traffic and tax revenue does not pass us by. Because it can and will!

If we act in an immature manner and do not allow the oil to flow, our neighbors to the north will be only too happy to have it go to New Brunswick or another Canadian port.

Jeff Estabrook

Brunswick

Mainers couldn’t weather four more years of Baldacci

If there is one thing Maine absolutely, positively does not need, it is John (“I never saw a camera I didn’t want to stand in front of”) Baldacci back in the Blaine House.

There is a reason Libby Mitchell only got 19 percent of the vote in the last gubernatorial election and the Democrats lost control of the Legislature. Eight years of incompetence should not be rewarded.

Bankrupt Maine retirement fund.

No pay to hospitals.

Maine Housing paying $300,000 for a $100,000 house.

Out-of-control turnpike director.

No balanced budget. (Wish I could balance my budget by not paying my bills.)

School consolidation sneaked through. (How’s that working out?)

Disastrous Dirigo Health.

Putting anybody with two legs on MaineCare.

Spend, spend, spend.

Thankfully, we have a nonpolitician in office who is not afraid to tell it like it is and do his best to clear up the mess.

If Baldacci is serious about helping Maine, may I suggest a move to Alaska?

Craig Elliott

Bristol

Critic of rifle ban makes unfounded comparisons

The Feb. 3 letters to the editor included a writer (“Assault rifle ban ‘not the answer’“) citing his “degreed historian” status in support of his argument that the difference between the murder rates of Detroit and Maine is evidence that “… our nation does not have a firearm problem.”

That comparison, and several other specious arguments bolstering his view on firearms safety measures, sound plausible but are only classic “apples and oranges” comparisons.

There’s no surprise that Detroit, a city with a population density of 4,900 persons per square mile, has a higher murder rate than a rural state with a density of roughly 41 people per square mile.

Maine’s lower murder rate does not relate to fewer or more firearms control regulations. Our good fortune relates to the fact that we live in a much safer, less dense and dangerous environment. Add 4,851 folks to all square miles in Maine, and our murder rate would be considerably larger, even if all other conditions were not the same.

Lastly, as an ex-history teacher, I was most troubled by the author’s comment that “… our underpaid teachers have little recourse when they encounter verbal abuse and violence in their own classrooms.”

Teachers need weapons for class control? Although this may be just another specious observation, it takes on an alarming implication when one considers the proposal by Sen. David Burns, R-Whiting, to authorize armed teachers. Although the author of the letter did not indicate his support for such legislation, it is one of the major points being made on his side of the debate.

What we do need is a debate focused on reducing the unrestricted availability of equipment designed only for mass killing, an ability to identify those with mental issues who are prone to violence and background checks that complicate the straw purchases that supply weapons to Detroit and other cities.

Robert Piper

Damariscotta