February 6, 2013

Letters to the editor: LePage taking state in right direction

Alan Caron's insightful commentary in the Jan. 31 Press Herald ("Economy must reflect a blend of both views of government") strikes a refreshing and significant balance in the divided and sometimes heated debate about revenues, services and expenditures.

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A reader praises a recent column about Maine’s economy and cites a proposal by Gov. Paul LePage, above, to reduce state revenue sharing as an example of “political process leadership.”

2013 File Photo/Gabe Souza

He points out the inevitability of government as a needed check and a redistributor to the society and the importance of maintaining a rational level of borrowing and indebtedness.

Each and every program we can afford is a worthwhile goal. The discipline to balance our ability to dream of a better life for all with the real ability to pay for it is the crux of the matter.

Offering fleeting relief, as was recently done with the Social Security tax deferment, generally skews expectations and heightens disappointment. Working toward a robust economy supported by a competent "save-to-invest" strategy has real merit.

There is no doubt that our public institutions have grown to a size that is unsustainable. We must adopt a more modest approach to leveraging the future, much like the private businesses that became overbuilt in the '90s and have had to downsize.

The hard work of rightsizing and prioritizing must continue. The private sector adjusts to the forces of supply and demand. The public sector adjusts to the heat of argument and political process.

Thus, the shifting of these decisions back to the local community, as demonstrated in Gov. LePage's recent proposal to reduce state aid to municipalities, is political process leadership that puts the responsibility to make the hard decisions in the right places.

As said earlier, all programs are good as long as they are paid for.

Malcolm Poole


As technology advances, employment, pay decline

Our job creators have been changing the landscape of work in America. How? Faster, more advanced software, computerized inventory control and robotics, to name just a few advances that require fewer humans.

Payrolls have remained flat while technology investment increased by 25 percent.

Half the 7.5 million U.S. jobs lost in recent years paid middle-class wages. Of the 3.5 million jobs gained, only 2 percent do, while 70 percent are in low-paying industries, according to The Associated Press ("All over the world, technology replacing employees," Jan. 23).

David Schepp writes in AOLJobs.com, "The reasons that employers have given for mass layoffs have ranged from a change in business strategy to bankruptcy. ... layoffs have occurred across a wide spectrum of industries, from retail to manufacturing to financial services. But what most have shared: extraordinary generosity to the corporate titans at the top."

The best job-cutting reason: Murray Energy cut 150 jobs because Obama won. Hewlett-Packard cut 27,000 jobs. Citibank cut 11,000. American Airlines, 14,000. American Express, 5,400. MetLife, 4,300. J.C. Penney, 4,700. BAE announced 300 job cuts in Maine. And this is only a partial list of companies. Who benefits? CEOs, directors and shareholders.

Homeless shelters include a record number of older men with physical ailments ("Baby boomers with no place to call home," Jan. 6). Older people have the most difficulty finding new jobs once they are out of work.

Did you know that a company can advertise that "only applicants who are currently employed may apply"? Moshe Vardi, a computer scientist at Rice University, asks, "Are we prepared for an economy in which 50 percent of people aren't working?"

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