October 7, 2013

Letters to the editor: Food stamp recipient defends program

I am outraged by the actions of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to cut funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps).

A writer bemoans congressional handling of legislation related to food stamps, which Mainers obtain with a state-issued debit card.

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After working most of my life, I am now disabled and living under the poverty line. I now find myself dependent on help from several sources, including SNAP. It is frightening to be in this precarious position, and with cuts such as those to SNAP, the fear is much greater and more debilitating.

For years we have been fed the narrative that the food stamp system is “bloated,” in need of drastic reform and serving people who are lazy and unmotivated.

That is not only a lie, but prejudicial and demeaning to the seniors, children, poor families, disabled and veterans who count on services such as SNAP to survive.

If any system is bloated, unethical, morally bankrupt and truly in need of immediate and drastic reform, it is the domain of corporations and multinational conglomerates.

Instead of cuts aimed at our poor, why are we not looking to close corporate tax loopholes, and for legislation to end the unfair tax advantages enjoyed by these corporate behemoths?

I thank Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud for acting compassionately and responsibly in not voting for these massive punitive cuts. They are courageous representatives for the people of Maine, particularly in this instance, the most vulnerable and needy of Maine’s citizens.

We must raise our voices and demand that there be greater tax equity and corporate accountability and transparency.

We must get our priorities straight. Instead of cuts affecting those barely able to survive, let us address the tax breaks and tax loopholes inherent in our system, which are bleeding billions of our dollars into the pockets and coffers of the obscenely wealthy few.

Raising our collective voice, we can make a difference and be positive agents for change with responsibility and compassion.

Elizabeth Guest


Lobsters are more than unfeeling automatons

Thanks to Bill Nemitz for thinking more about lobsters after watching People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ undercover footage from Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster, a crustacean slaughterhouse where live lobsters and crabs are ripped apart and killed in egregiously cruel ways (“Lobsters feel pain? Let’s ask expert,” Sept. 20).

These animals are not unfeeling automatons. According to a report prepared by a panel of scientific experts for the European Commission, lobsters and crabs “have a pain system,” and “any procedure involving the separation of the abdomen (tailpiece) from the thorax or removal of tissue, flesh or limbs while the crustacean is still alive and fully conscious,” as is done at Bean’s slaughterhouse, is likely to cause them pain.

The National Aquaculture Council of Australia, in guidelines developed in consultation with that nation’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, deemed “unacceptable” both “separating tail from head of live lobsters” and “cutting tissue or flesh from live animals.”

And according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, when killing aquatic invertebrates like lobsters and crabs, “The aim is to accomplish death for these animals rapidly with the minimum amount of pain ... .” The association stipulates that “methods of killing ... that cause trauma prior to loss of consciousness are not considered humane.”

If there were any question, though, it would still be best to err on the side of compassion. It matters little to these animals whether they’re killed in a slaughterhouse or in someone’s kitchen.

(Continued on page 2)

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