Amid all the hyperbole coming out of the media about the government shutdown, all the finger-pointing from both sides of the political aisles, the doomsaying, the weeping and gnashing of teeth that the world is coming to an end – in all of this lies hidden an opportunity for reflection on what should be an obvious question: Doesn’t this make it crystal clear that we have allowed ourselves to become far too dependent on the federal government for practically everything we do?

In a sane world, if Washington were shut down, it would be weeks before anyone even noticed, and then it would be a paragraph on Page 3 of the newspaper. But instead, we turn our sad, imploring gaze toward Washington as the answer for everything from education to Medicaid.

Instead of fighting for federal subsidies, let’s fight to earn back our independence, and start reducing our reliance on the ruling class that has imposed itself upon us.

Kerry Peabody

Scarborough

The so-called shutdown of this nation is indirectly enlightening the citizens that a significant portion of government activities are not really necessary for our country to effectively operate.

Therefore, it would seem that when spending bills come up for consideration, a wise politician should question the need for the government to allocate further funds for such “unnecessary” activities!

Hopefully, the news media will also take up the argument to cut back unneeded government expenditures,

John Barritt

Cape Elizabeth 

Support business and reject harsh waterfront ordinance

I write to express strong concern for Greater Portland’s business health and to encourage South Portland voters to vote against the overly restrictive and overreaching Waterfront Protection Ordinance.

I write as president of the WH Shurtleff Co., a South Portland industrial distribution company and landlord to other commercial and industrial businesses that depend on South Portland’s infrastructure.

The proponents of the Waterfront Protection Ordinance want to prevent Canadian tar sands oil from transiting South Portland. They claim that the only means they have of achieving control and restricting tar sands oil is through land-use ordinance change.

Additional regulation at the municipal level is unwarranted and restricts commerce. While it is worthy as a community to discuss the merits of this product’s movements, handling and environmental risks, this poorly written citizens initiative broadly blankets specific land areas and the petroleum industry for scrutiny and control beyond the scope of the city’s capabilities and comprehensive plan.

The business activities targeted and land areas impacted are among the most regulated and controlled at the federal, state and local level.

The permitting process for new construction is rigorous. Creating an additional municipal responsibility to control all activities as a way to address the highly politicized tar sands oil product movement is excessive and unfair. Tar sands oil may be bad; pre-emptive, overreaching and controlling regulation is worse.

I urge South Portland residents who support private business as the backbone of a healthy economy to vote against the Waterfront Protection Ordinance. It is a measure that does too much to too many in the interest of stopping a single product that is not mentioned by name, nor is it currently proposed for commercial transit of South Portland.

Malcolm Poole

president, WH Shurtleff Co.

South Portland 

Pass waterfront ordinance to protect precious planet

With the tar sands oil issue now looming in South Portland, many of us at Congregation Bet Ha’am and in other faith communities across Maine are concerned about the impact of the potential project on our congregational home community and on the Earth, air and water we all share.

Tar sands processing poses enormous risks to the environment, raises a host of troubling, still-unanswered questions about long-term impact, and boasts a troubling, unimpressive safety record – all with minimal economic benefit to our community.

Both as people of God and inhabitants of an ailing Earth, we feel strongly that it is time to take up the challenge of addressing global climate change as a moral imperative, a practical strategy for survival and a matter of justice. Within that context, we must oppose any tar sands project.

As individuals and congregations, we feel we must work not only to stop what would be a disaster for Maine, but to act on the broader moral and ethical issues the potential project raises: to recognize the disproportionate burden that climate change imposes on the world’s poor, advocate for governmental action in support of clean renewable energy, take steps to reduce our dependence on oil in our own lives, and make environmental responsibility part of our collective agenda.

Above all, we must acknowledge the ethical task of healing the planet as a part of who we are.

In the name of protecting God’s excellent works, we have been called to repair the world for our children, our grandchildren and all who come after us.

Voting for the Waterfront Protection Ordinance on Nov. 5, and stopping any tar sands processing, is an excellent place to begin. Asked one of our sages: “If not now, when?”

Susan Cummings-Lawrence

South Portland

Abby Zimet

Portland 

Dead lobster not best way to take stand for live ones

Regarding the full-page People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ad Oct. 3, did it strike anyone as ironic that the lobster not wanting “to be dismembered alive” was, in fact, dead?

I find the idea of zombie crustaceans with an inclination to vote quite compelling.

W.M. Stahl

South Portland

On Page A10 of the Oct. 3 Portland Press Herald, PETA ran a full-page ad that read, in large print, “Hands up, all those who don’t want to be dismembered alive,” with the picture of a cooked lobster raising its claw.

If PETA is so concerned with animal welfare, shouldn’t they have used a live lobster?

Kurt Woltersdorf

Sanford