Thursday, December 12, 2013
The Lewiston mayor's recent comments on Somali immigrants to that city and, more specifically, the culture of those immigrants certainly resonate with many of us.
Community advocate Nimo Yonis leads a protest chant last week against Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald, who said in an interview that Somali immigrants to the city should “accept our culture and leave your culture at the door.”
2012 File Photo/The Associated Press
I am proud to say that I am the grandson of Italian immigrants who came to this country a little more than 100 years ago. None of my grandparents was educated (in a formal sense), but they appreciated what this country could offer to them and made the most of those opportunities.
My grandfather was a barber for several decades and ran his own small business. He was able to live the American dream and provide for his family because of his dedication and hard work.
Growing up in the 1950s and '60s, I recall that the Italian culture that my grandparents brought to this country remained with them. They still spoke the Italian language with one another and with their peers, they still celebrated Italian holidays. This never prevented them from embacing the greatness of their adopted country nor their wish that their descendants could live better lives than they did.
Nor did it prevent them from assimilating into and becoming part of the fabric of our society. I benefited from their hard work, their belief in this country and the culture that they passed along to me and shared with their fellow Americans.
I am confident that 100 years from now, the descendants of Somali immigrants to Maine will be able to point back to their assimilation into American society, just as I can today. And I am also confident that they will have shared their culture with others, bettering all of us in the process.
Tax debate must explore legitimacy of spending
A recent letter suggested that debating taxes without knowing what they pay for makes no sense ("Debating taxes requires knowing what they pay for," Sept. 28).
This is true. However, knowing and accepting what taxes pay for without knowing and respecting the powers and purposes for which government is legitimately authorized to raise and expend taxes makes no sense either.
Contrary to class warfare propaganda, the wealthy already pay disproportionately higher amounts in taxes. They also contribute a greater amount to the economy in the form of goods and services purchased, which also generates tax revenue. Today, for some curious reason, people who earn wealth are vilified; politicians who enrich themselves at taxpayers' expense are celebrated.
History has shown that when taxes are applied disproportionately and punitively, revenues decline for the reason that it is instinctive to minimize or cease activities that result in consequences; activities that in this case would otherwise create revenue.
Though a problem, taxes are not the problem; they are a symptom. Spending is the problem, and therefore a full debate must also compare government spending to its legitimate authority. Is spending within government's jurisdiction? If not, it should be phased out. Is tax money expended for legitimate purposes being used efficiently and effectively?
On the federal level, for example, if we eliminate all spending that is outside Congress' jurisdiction, we could balance the budget, lower taxes and start paying down the federal debt.
The catch is, once you've put cream in the coffee, it is very difficult to remove.
Gary C. Foster
Insults to leader amount to abuse of freedom of speech
Respect for the office of president of the United States benefits the nation and our international status. It is the highest elected office in the world. The office, and its occupant, deserve good manners. The correct address is "President Barack Obama" or "President Obama," not "Obama."
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