January 10, 2011

Letters to the editor, Jan. 10, 2011
Governor's pardon was courageous

Gov. John Baldacci ended his term in office with an act of courage and compassion by pardoning Touch Rin Svay.

click image to enlarge

Touch Rin Svay, seen at his 2004 pardon hearing, could have been deported to Cambodia if Gov. John Baldacci had not acted.

Press Herald file

Svay was born in a Thai refugee camp and came to the U.S. as a child. After attending Portland schools, he served his adopted country by enlisting in the Marines. But through a bad stroke of fate, he never became a U.S. citizen, though he was eligible to do so.

As a 21-year-old, Svay made a terrible mistake. He drove while drunk, crashed a car and killed his sister. He served a jail term, put his life back together and began earning money to help support her children. He has contributed in other ways to his family and his community.

But because of the severity of his crime and the inflexibility of U.S. immigration laws, Svay faced deportation to Cambodia, a country where he had never lived. His mother faced the prospect of losing her only son. The only hope for avoiding that fate was a gubernatorial pardon.

Thank you, Gov. Baldacci, for granting the pardon on your final day in office. You have given Svay the chance to repay his debt to his family by continuing to help his sister's children. You have saved a mother from the heartbreak of losing two children.

It would have been easy to avoid controversy by denying the pardon. But you had the courage to act in a way that reflects the best of Maine values.

Shoshana Hoose

Portland

Health care wrong target for Congress to attack

It appears that the incoming Republican Congress really does have a clear priority of repealing health care reform.

They explain that this is the American people's wish and they intend to deliver. As a small business owner, I strongly feel that the intent of this reform must survive. After years of having no option to getting gouged by insurance companies on a yearly basis, I hope that the Republican version of health care reform further insulates the average American from the vagaries of insurance and health care provider collusion, but perhaps I expect too much.

I would like to suggest another worthy target for politicians in these "challenging economic times." I would like them to debate the Goldman Sachs/Facebook deal that has been in the news.

The geniuses at Goldman have gathered 500 or so multimillionaires to invest in non-public Facebook to the tune of $1.5 billion and decided to call the investor group a "company." With tax break money, the wealthy can invest before Facebook goes public and reap a windfall later, not to mention Goldman gets a hefty fee.

Legal or not, this sort of wealth club seems a bit shady and might attract some attention, or be opened up to people of less means. I'm sure our Republican Congress will shed the light of fairness upon this scenario as soon as they are done turning out the uninsured and protecting the insurance industry from our pre-existing conditions.

Joe Delaney

Portland

Government should be big enough to protect people

There is a notable groundswell in favor of radically downsizing both state and federal government, one that seems to me to be fueled more by emotion than by reason.

It raises the question of how "big" government should be, and that is a difficult question to address rationally. In a way, it is addressed in the Code of Hammurabi when it says that one of the primary purposes of his kingship was "that the strong should not oppress the weak." This suggests that the greater the gap between the strong and the weak, the greater the need for strong government.

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