After I saw your article on “Pandora’s Lights,” my husband and I decided to drive the 150 miles each way to Portland to see them for ourselves. We are so glad we did! They are wonderful — happy, surprising and beautifully executed. Kudos to Jan Beitzer for supporting and encouraging such a creative installation.

Thank you, Portland.

Sharon and Joe Lendvai

Brooklin

I recently read that Gov.-elect Paul LePage and his wife, Ann, would continue the Blaine House Hanukkah Party tradition first started by former first lady Mary Herman — “if asked.”

I hope that your readers and the governor will consider this an official request. I’ll bring the latkes.

Ben Goodman

Kennebunk

Worthwhile earmarks should compete for funds

I am writing in response to the Press Herald’s front page article on Dec. 18 dealing with earmarks and how a number of useful projects may stop if the earmarks are not approved. Every earmark has a passionate group of supporters.

Most people who are opposed to earmarks are not necessarily opposed to the project’s purpose (although many are “Bridges to Nowhere”). They oppose the process by which funding is approved.

Funding is slipped into a major, unrelated appropriations bill. It is never read. (Who can read 1,900 pages of Congress talk?). It is never publicly debated or evaluated. Does anyone know whether a particular project is more worthy than any of the other 6,000 projects? Even if it is worthy, does it really merit federal funding?

Here’s an idea: Why not one appropriations bill for all earmarks? Each project could be publicly discussed. In this era of limited availability of funds, why not set a budget limit for all earmarks and decide which projects merit being included within the budget cap? Then, if a particular project in Maine has merit or enough votes, it will be included. If not, it will not.

Somehow, spending must be capped, if not reduced.

Allan Brockman

Buxton

Time Warner scare ads obscured the money grab

Congratulations to Time Warner Cable for a brilliant public relations move: instituting a substantial systemwide rate increase while simultaneously threatening its southern Maine customers with the loss of WGME-TV.

First, let’s look at the rate increase. Mine is about $8 a month. Get out your calculators and multiply that by a conservative estimate of 65,000 households. I’ll save you time. That is slightly over a half million dollars — per month!

Gee, how are they ever going to make ends meet?

I’ll tell you how — by demanding more money from Sinclair Broadcasting, the parent company of Channel 13. There are no heroes here, only us — the patsies of two large, greedy corporations arm wrestling over greenbacks.

Here is my position. I probably can live without Channel 13, but not without the New England Patriots at playoff time. WGME is the station that will carry all of the AFC playoff games, and the Super Bowl.

If I miss so much as the kickoff of a Patriots game I will dump Time Warner immediately.

Roger McKinney

Portland 

Letter about taxing rich simply didn’t add up

The Dec. 18 letter regarding income and personal tax levels is an example of misstatement of the facts regarding taxation. It cites levels of taxation erroneously based on the addition of marginal tax rates. Assuming the writer was not trying to deliberately mislead, it is a position without substance. The statement “a person earning $250,000 a year” is “paying $87,500 in federal taxes” is devoid of truth.

Someone earning $250,000 per year as an employee, married with two children, conservatively using a standard deduction with average pre-tax benefits deductions and a maximum 401(k) contribution would have an adjusted taxable income of $202,500.

Federal taxes on that amount, using the 2010 Tax Rate Schedule of Married Filing Jointly, is $44,943.50. This is $42,556.50 less than cited — an error of 48.6 percent. The writer needs to learn about the effective tax rate: the percentage of income actually paid, specifically 18 percent, not the 35 percent he uses.

Due to the conservative level of deductions, exemptions and pre-tax items, the marginal tax bracket herein is 28 percent, meaning that none of the $250,000 in income is taxed at 35 percent. In reality, a person with the income cited most probably would have itemized deductions — mortgage interest, state income tax and property taxes — that would further reduce federal taxes at the rate of 28 percent.

The letter is nothing more than a political agenda diatribe.

One only has to cite the example of Warren Buffett (who I personally admire) in comparing his tax level as the country’s second wealthiest person with that of his subordinates at Berkshire Hathaway, who volunteered for his survey and found that he was paying the lowest percentage of income in taxes.

In the case of his administrative assistant the comparison was 17 percent for Buffett compared to the assistant’s 33 percent. The system, for better or worse, does favor the wealthier folks in this country.

G. Michael Loewe

Boothbay