March 28, 2013

Letters to the editor:
Job prospects not as rosy as portrayed

I recently read this subject line in a legislative update from Senate President Justin Alfond: "Greater Portland Best Place in America to Find a Job."

He touts an article appearing in Forbes magazine and repeated in the Portland Press Herald ("Survey: Seeking work? Portland is promising," March 13) and Bangor Daily News.

I read the Forbes article. It's a feel-good promotion for mid-level and higher executive types to move in from out of state.

Alfond and these articles quote a survey done by Manpower, the temp agency. They're assuring out-of-state businesses that there are plenty of drones in the metro area to man their phone banks and bus their tables.

I have been out of work for almost a year due to layoffs of entire departments at Anthem Blue Cross in South Portland. I have applied for 90 jobs since then. If I don't qualify for an extension of my unemployment benefits in April, I will have no income. Many others are in the same situation.

I moved to Maine seven years ago, leaving a career in Massachusetts to join my partner in Portland. Neither of us knew it was impossible to get professional work here. It took two years just to get a customer service job. I have a master's degree and years of experience.

The only things available are "high school diploma or equivalent" jobs in call centers or Starbucks. I know. I've done both.

Try explaining that away when seeking a professional position. Try being upbeat with recruiters who consider you middle-aged and over-educated when applying for anything else.

Despite this "good news" from Forbes, Sen. Alfond and the local papers, nothing is changing here.

John Degon
Portland

Tax revenue builds nations, funds services we depend on

Our nation needs a reality check. According to the article "Poll: Voters want austerity -- and more services" (March 9), there is a disconnect between what we want and what we are willing to pay for.

We want high-quality services (education, defense, public safety, infrastructure, etc.), but we consider the tax dollars needed to elevate them to excellence as odious.

Our nation is sinking into mediocrity, influenced by those who imply that taxes are an evil instrument of an untrustworthy government.

In fact, taxes helped build our nation by funding the programs, institutions and workers that advanced us to superpower status in the world. Perhaps our credit-plagued citizenry does not understand that you cannot buy services without paying a fair price.

If we want exceptional schools, unrivaled defense, effective public safety, secure infrastructure and safety nets for our retired and disabled community, we cannot achieve them through miserly allocations.

Our tax dollars should be spent efficiently, with controls in place for eliminating waste and maximizing productivity. They should not, however, be viewed as some sort of evil conspiracy to part us from our wages.

If we want to be the best nation on earth, we will not get there by cutting corners and eliminating our foundation; in fact, we will get there by investment in rebuilding what we have lost in the last few decades.

Remember, public workers are also people who pay taxes, buy products and contribute to our economy. We are not the enemy; we are this nation's foundation.

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