October 4, 2013

Letters to the editor: Why not set criteria for having kids?

As an editorial in the Portland Press Herald points out (“Our View: Childhood poverty rate a disgrace for Maine,” Sept. 22), more than a quarter of the children under age 5 in the state live in poverty. As the editorial states, “This is a problem not just for poor children and their parents, but also for our entire society.”

A letter writer says the number of children living in poverty could be reduced by requiring people to meet certain criteria before they can become parents.


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Although “too many of our children are suffering,” the editorial never mentions that most of these children are born to families that should not be having children in the first place.

To drive legally, one must be of a certain age (presumably reflecting maturity), one must pass a driving test (reflecting ability), and one must purchase insurance (so that others are not left holding the bill in the case of an accident).

None of these standards applies to giving birth to another human being, an act that can create problems just as driving can.

This past January there were 1,721 children in foster care, costing taxpayers $36.2 million a year, or $21,000 per child per year (“Drug issues propel rise in foster care in Maine,” Jan. 26).

This is a problem for poor children and taxpayers, but not for their parents, since others are paying the cost of raising their children.

It only makes sense to set standards that should be met before giving birth.

I suggest three reasonable criteria: A person should show the ability to pay for food, clothing and shelter for a child, they should show a knowledge of how to raise a child, and they should show a desire to care for a child.

Anyone meeting these standards is unlikely to require help from taxpayers, and the children of such people are unlikely to have the kinds of problems mentioned in the editorial.

William Vaughan Jr.

Chebeague Island 

View from across the ocean: America difficult to fathom

Back from England, visiting in-laws and friends, I have realized that no one person, let alone a country, sees itself as others see us.

Parliament didn’t wish to commit political suicide by going along with a Syrian attack. Tony Blair went against the people’s wishes and sided with George W. Bush on Iraq and Afghanistan, and it has cost them dearly.

The British still have refugee camps and have to deal with their own terrorists’ threats. They thought they’d seen the back of the Republicans who gave them a war and an economic crisis starting in 2007.

The tea party they lampoon. They think our economy is in worse shape then theirs. Their financial markets are down, but they see us as falling apart at the seams with a dysfunctional government that’s not acting much like a democracy.

How can a country like ours go into war debt in the trillions and yet not help or take care of its own people? They ask: “Doesn’t your Constitution’s preamble state ‘to promote the general welfare’?”

They had hoped that with President Obama, things would change – but then the British elect a party.

They don’t see why we should get upset at Russian President Vladimir Putin for helping with the Syrian crisis when the U.S. trusts Russia to send its astronauts into space.

They visit our country and marvel at our vastness, but wonder why we aren’t ashamed of our crumbling infrastructure. They will never understand guns in America.

Americans, they like personally, but our current politics are unfathomable.

Linda Boardman

Cape Porpoise

Hostility toward immigrants can give birth to radicalism

Hatred and isolation of our immigrant communities can only breed the type of isolation that allows groups like al-Shabab to prey on young minds.

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