As a primary care physician, I am aware of how hard it is to be a patient. So, it is difficult to explain how awful it is to be a primary care physician right now in this country.

Unlike well-paid specialists, I live paycheck to paycheck. For weeks the government has held my paycheck. Most of my patients are on Medicare, and Medicare has not paid doctors in weeks because of wrangling in Washington.

My car insurance, health insurance and mortgage are all due. I cannot fail to pay them all.

Will Washington protect me from debt, for loss of health insurance or from the IRS?

I know patients are divorced from how this goes, but I am an ordinary working person who has not been paid in a month.

Would any other job allow this? I propose legislation that whenever Congress does this — as they have for I believe nine years straight now, then my taxes and other debt are to be suspended. If the government will not pay me for working, then the government should protect me.

Alternatively, let’s have a dramatic headline, “Physician loses health insurance for failure of payment. Cited for lack of car insurance for nonpayment. Bank forecloses on physician’s home. Sens. Snowe and Collins held responsible.”

I do not mean to be nasty, but I have had it with Medicare. I put myself through school at 18 percent interest. I have provided superb quality of care and lowered health care costs in a wonderfully designed little practice.

I would just like to be paid for doing my job.

Jean Antonucci, M.D.


Story about egg farm raises memory of abuses

I read the July 2 story about the Turner egg farm (formerly DeCoster Egg Farm) with horror (“Giant egg farm works to show it’s taking care of its chickens”).

In 1996, when then-Secretary of Labor Robert Reich announced the appalling conditions at that farm and laid out the largest fines in OSHA history, he said the abuses of human workers there were the worst recorded since the U.S. Department of Labor began to monitor.

While normally I am proud to be a Mainer, I felt deeply ashamed that the treatment migrant workers endured on that farm could ever happen here.

In the aftermath of this disgrace, owner Jack DeCoster broke up his massive egg farm into smaller ones to avoid many regulations designed to protect workers and animals. I have never bought another egg that could possibly have come from any of those farms.

I know where my eggs come from. Do you? Ask your supermarket.

The most shocking thing about this story is its focus on improved treatment of animals while not even mentioning the current condition of the large number of human beings there — migrant families with children — who have experienced such appalling mistreatment in the past.

That included deliberate disregard for their physical safety on machines; unsafe housing; lack of access to clergy, doctors, teachers and social workers; filthy conditions such as open sewage; and pressure to remain silent about abuses.

The only news story about these farms that would interest me is exactly how human conditions and protections may or may not have improved. Today we got not even a word about this. How embarrassing.

I have not forgotten, and many other Mainers haven’t either.

Betsy Parsons

South Portland

Slavick’s points hit mark, while his opponents miss it

William Slavick has taken a lot of flak for his most recent contribution to this newspaper. How is it that some Catholics can take offense at criticism of the sexual practices of priests (celibacy and pedophilia) at the same time that they criticize the sexual practices of others (contraception, abortion, homosexuality)?

Take the logs out of your own eyes before you try to take the speck out of the eyes of others. Men and male-dominated institutions have no more moral authority to tell a woman not to use contraception or to continue an unwanted pregnancy than women and female-dominated institutions have to demand that all men have vasectomies at the age of 18.

If men reserve the right to have children, women can reserve the right to not have children — without insisting that they not have sex as well. Sex is natural; there is nothing “civilized” about proscribing it.

Catholics, Mormons and others have no moral authority to condemn the sexual lives of gays and lesbians either. To do so is the equivalent of telling a right-handed person that they must either write with their left hand or not at all.

Love, affection and attraction do not necessarily recognize gender boundaries, and there is no particular harm in that; save to the self-righteous and despotic tendencies of a few.

There is much to be admired in the Catholic tradition, but some things need to change, too. Mr. Slavick pulled no punches, but he was not malicious. It is a painful experience to examine what you have always “known” and believed, been taught and experienced, and then find fault in it. It is the brave and courageous who undertake that journey and seek to correct the fault they find.

Too many reserve the peace of Christ for themselves and deny it to others. Peace and blessings on Mr. Slavick for acting in the spirit of Christ.

John Henderson


Wind power survey has suspect findings

It is interesting that the news media, which will reject research results on the basis that they were funded by tobacco companies, will prominently feature a “survey” allegedly supporting wind power that was commissioned by that well-funded industry itself (“Mainers full of gusto for wind power, survey finds,” June 29).

The results alone should be enough to raise suspicions that the respondents did not know what they were responding to. For example, it is doubtful that 88 percent of Mainers could tell you the name of the governor of the state.

But having been primed by 12 statements supporting wind power, respondents to the survey certainly knew what they were expected to say (even if they knew nothing about the related controversies).

Without knowing what the questions were, of course, it is difficult to comment in detail, but the sketchy information contained in the media report and the “Highlights of Survey Findings” document (not a complete or proper research report) suggests that this was a “push” poll, designed to produce a particular result and not a properly conducted survey at all.

It should be dismissed as nothing but an elaborate exercise in propaganda.

Edmund R. Peay



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