December 3, 2011

Letters to the editor, Dec. 3, 2011
Maine pays double for I-95 upgrades

Re: Another View, "Nobody at turnpike agency immune to cost-cutting efforts," by Peter Mills, Nov. 27:

Why does Maine pay double for turnpike improvements?

Improvements are funded by bonds issued by the Maine Turnpike Authority, which collects the principal amounts, then pays the bonds back with interest.

Over time, interest payments add up to about the original principal, doubling the cost of turnpike improvements and the tolls that must be collected to pay for them. The interest money is shipped out of state to Wall Street banks.

Why not keep the interest money here in Maine, to the benefit of all Mainers? This could be done by creating a state-owned bank. State funds now deposited in low- or no-interest checking accounts would instead be deposited in the state bank.

Those funds would be used to buy up the authority bonds and municipal bonds issued by the Maine Bond Bank. All of them. Since all interest payments would flow into the state treasury, we would end up paying half what we now pay for our roads, bridges and schools.

North Dakota has profited from a state-owned bank for 90 years. Why not Maine?

Tom Hagan


Media, protesters expect too much from government

Is it the way things are, or is it just the words journalists choose to use?

I read that Egyptian protesters are upset by the military council's "failure to push through real democratic reforms," leaving the "real reforms," instead, to an election by the people (Page A1, "Gloom pervasive in Egypt as parliament vote starts," Nov. 28).

Does that mean that what they really want is for the council to be a "benevolent dictator," a "big daddy" to make everything all right now?

Here in the United States, some deem the president we last chose a failure for not having single-handedly performed a miracle of economics within part of a first (and thus possibly last) term.

Meanwhile, a majority in Congress, unwilling to do the decision-making job that they ran for by casting votes opposed by many constituents, tried to foist it onto a committee that correctly dumped that responsibility back where it belonged.

And then there is the Occupy phenomenon, whose object (if any) seems to be to somehow make the "1 percenters" suffer whatever econ-omic corrections are necessary here.

Yet that percentage group is not any more inconvenienced than the rest of us, Occupy's effects being pretty much confined to the public budgets for municipal policing and the private ones for media coverage (though not creating more jobs in those areas).

In Portland, the principal direct effect is to distract drivers on busy Congress Street and Franklin Arterial, while the rest of us are going about our business elsewhere.

Richard B. Innes


New EPA mercury rule protects Maine families

Families in Maine have more than one reason to celebrate this holiday season. This month, the Environmental Protection Agency is slated to finalize a rule limiting mercury pollution from power plants, the largest industrial source, for the first time in history.

Mercury from power plants gets into the fish we eat and poses serious health problems. Mercury can harm a child's growing brain and nervous system, affecting cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language, and fine motor and visual spatial skills.

Mercury contamination of fish is so widespread that one in 10 women of childbearing age has enough mercury in her bloodstream to put her child at risk if she becomes pregnant.

EPA's new mercury rule is expected to cut emissions from power plants by more than 90 percent, resulting in huge benefits to our health, and that's definitely something to celebrate. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe should defend this important rule from any attacks in Congress.

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