May 26, 2013

Letters to the editor: Car inspections burden on poor

The majority of states don't require motor vehicle inspections on a regular basis, but Maine does. That might not seem like much of an issue, but there is no evidence that lack of inspections leads to more traffic fatalities or injuries.

click image to enlarge

Erik Lowell of AAA Car Care in Portland puts a new sticker on a car after he inspected and passed the vehicle in 2011. A reader says Maine’s car inspection mandate amounts to “a regressive tax.”

2011 Telegram File Photo/Derek Davis

Given that is the case, it's hard to see inspections as anything more than a regressive tax, one that disproportionately impacts the poor. I would go so far as to say that inspections are a form of indirect subsidy to mechanics.

I think almost everyone has been in the situation where their car cannot pass inspection, but they can't afford to get it fixed, so they drive anyway. People do this because if they ever hope to make those repairs, they have to work, and to work, they must get there. It's something of a catch-22.

They risk a fine if they fail to get a sticker, something that surely doesn't make them more likely to actually have the repairs done -- if anything, it makes it more unlikely.

Inspections don't make us safer, but they do put financial stress on the poor and they do force people to make many repairs that are often unnecessary, benefiting only the garage and not the individual.

Dropping inspection requirements would free up money that could be used more constructively, especially in the case of our poorer citizens.

Nathan Fellows

Augusta

Smokestacks, railroads brought prosperity here

I don't know what letter writer Eliot Chandler has against smokestacks and railroads in his letter to the Sunday Telegram of May 12 ("Turbines not first project to affect 'quality of place'"), but his statement that Maine railroad tracks take up a very large percentage of valuable shoreline is pure hogwash.

In truth, those railway tracks that so closely skirt Maine's lake and ocean shorelines, which he claims render adjacent parcels useless for building upon, are few in number and very short in distance where they do exist.

Railroad rights of way vary from 50 to 99 feet in width. So, too, do our roads, of which there are far many more hundreds of miles that skirt shorelines throughout the state than there are railway tracks.

Were it not for those factory smokestacks that brought prosperity to Maine communities and the railroads that carried their wares to market, few would have ever known this state harbored the natural grandeur that entices tourists to come and enjoy it.

Did the coming of railroads to Maine affect the tourist industry? You betcha! Though not in the negative manner Mr. Chandler alludes. Their advent here 165 years ago also brought people to view these magnificent scenes of nature's grandeur and birthed the tourist industry that benefits local and state economies today.

I'm sorry, Mr. Chandler, but it wasn't until the large-scale abandonment of homegrown hydropower on Maine's many rivers and streams in favor of coal and oil-burning electrical generating plants during the past 40 years, that your "quality of place" began disappearing.

And it will continue disappearing as the conglomerates desecrate additional dozens of mountaintops with more and more hundreds of wind turbines, along with massive pollution from the 4,000 big rigs that one proponent of Peter Vigue's proposed east-northwest private toll road foresees entering the border tollbooths daily if it is built.

John R. Davis

South Paris

Easy access to firearms can save homeowners, kin

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