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.

When you are bombarded with the idea that you do not belong in the society in which you are living, radicals exploit those feelings, using them as a recruitment tool to grow their ranks, promising belonging and like-minded camaraderie.

It is our imperative to welcome newcomers and provide support to them, rather than viewing them in negative terms.

Rather than attempting to crack down on alleged radicalism with a heavy hand, which could potentially further the divide between Maine’s immigrant communities and the so-called “native population,” an effort should be made to work with elders and community leaders to address the root causes of discord in our community.

By accepting each other as Mainers, we are strengthening our own bonds on what it means to live “the way life should be.”

Benjamin Kissin

Freeport

Citizenship something to be earned; let’s not give it away

I would like to commend Peter F. Erlin for his letter of Sept. 24 (“Nation’s newest citizens deserve voting safeguards”) and let him know what it takes to be a legal immigrant.

My wife is from the Philippines. It took 13 months, about $2,000, and a huge amount of work to get a visa for her to come here.

Immigration rules say that she is not allowed to file for public assistance until she has been here 10 years.

After she arrived in 2011, she had to file an application and go in for an interview, and pay a lot more money to get a temporary green card to work.

Then last month, she and I both had to go to an interview at an immigration agency for her to get a permanent green card so she can continue to work.

Next year, she will be eligible to take the test for citizenship.

That is what it is like for honest people who are real immigrants to come here and get the right to vote. Some very ignorant people would have every illegal alien who just swam across the Rio Grande to be handed a free path to citizenship and voting rights.

This would be an insult to me, my wife and everyone who made the tremendous effort and spent a lot of money to get here legally.

I do believe that children who were brought here legally and stayed five years should be allowed to take the citizenship test.

But anyone who came here illegally should be sent back. Anything else makes a mockery of American law.

Thomas O’Connor

Falmouth

What’s best: Free speech for panhandlers, or safety?

A panhandler may be run down by a motorist while trying to reach a median, but his free speech isn’t violated.

You gotta love them liberals.

Charles Bouchles

Mechanic Falls

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