“Profit is not a dirty word. In fact, it is the direct and indirect solution to our challenges,” Gov. LePage has said.

Profit is the central issue in Portland’s waterfront zoning debate, pitting marine and fishing industries against property owners and businesses. The political climate appears to be leaning toward a more free-market economy, where the laws of supply and demand take precedence over government regulation and subsidy.

Applying market solutions to Portland’s waterfront will be a good way to examine where people stand.

Why? Because there is nothing warm and fuzzy about free enterprise and the market economy. It is profit-driven, highly competitive and doesn’t have much of a conscience.

Pier and waterfront property owners know that the most profitable use may not be in renting to the marine or fishing industry. The Press Herald quotes Penny Littell, Portland’s planning director, as saying “we don’t want a Faneuil Hall marketplace on our waterfront.”

Ask pier owners, business owners and taxpayers that question and see if they agree. Faneuil Hall is the fourth-most-visited tourist attraction in the nation, with 20 million visitors annually, behind only New York’s Times Square, Las Vegas and the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Political slogans aside, if the debate over state and local regulations versus free-market forces is weighted on the side of profit, then relaxing waterfront zoning will be a very “dirty” process for those in industries that don’t have the money to compete.

Jobs will be lost, livelihoods potentially ruined and the nature of Portland’s downtown waterfront will change dramatically. That is the bottom line. In a free-market economy there are winners and losers, and the losers are on their own. The end product might benefit the city, but don’t sugar-coat the process.

Daniel Steele

Portland

Congressional pay, raises getting out of control

It is time for the government to stop spending our money foolishly.

Congress members are making $174,000 per year. This is an increase of $11,900 in the last five years. The speaker of the House has a salary of $223,500, an increase of $15,400 in the last five years. Majority and minority leaders make $193,400, an increase of $13,300 in five years.

These are called “cost-of-living adjustments.” There has not been an increase in Social Security for two years, and the working class is struggling to make ends meet.

President Obama froze federal employees’ salaries, but this does not include members of Congress and their staffs, defense contractors, postal workers and federal court judges and workers. A federal-worker union president called it a slap at working people, which it certainly is. Why shouldn’t Congress, the House speaker and majority and minority leaders be included in this freeze?

These people bailed out the big companies who couldn’t handle the money they had before. My guess is that they filled their own pockets and there was none left for the company. I want to know where this money came from and who is going to pay it back.

Places like McDonald’s pay $8 per hour. How can anyone live on that? In the last month, my cable TV bill went up $6, electricity went up $40 and this January the sewer bill will increase with no amount set yet. I think it is time for the government to take a cut in salaries or maybe we need a smaller government.

Then, our newly elected governor has put his daughter on the government payroll instead of giving the job to someone who has lost a similar job.

The rich get richer — the poor get poorer.

Leona Glidden

Westbrook

‘Black Swan’ formulaic, nothing like true ballet

So the ballet film “Black Swan” is up for four Golden Globe awards. Why not? Formula movies work. Movie makers (money makers) know the formula, and “Black Swan” succeeded in including every aspect of the formula:

First, you take a storyline that has been used hundreds of times — in this case, an understudy or second-string player wants the starring role — and add the “matriarchal mother made me crazy” theme.

Next, find some way to run that story line with the following gimmicks: very pretty women, nudity, the F-word used in every way possible, the obligatory bathroom body functions scenes, vomiting, graphic lesbian and heterosexual sex scenes, sexual harassment and abuse, plenty of drug-induced hallucinations, violence and violent flash backs and forth between reality and psychotic imaging, and an overabundance of blood. All of this occurs in the gentle, dedicated world of ballet?

The plot and the ending were so predicable that some of the scenes became comical — for instance, when the leading lady pulled her tormentor across the dressing room floor, blood and all. I was unable to keep from laughing when I know I was supposed to have been horrified.

And by the way, neither the dancers who played the White Swan nor the ones who played the Black Swan would have been chosen by any respectable ballet company to perform those parts.

Robert L. Piccone

Portland

So, who says Al Gore would have been worse than Bush?

On Dec. 23, The Press Herald printed a letter from David Knudsen of Gray (“Vote in 2000 came out just the way it should have”) in which he shared his opinion of two side-by-side columns written on the 2000 presidential election that were published in a previous edition of the paper.

Mr. Knudsen lauded George Will’s commentary for “calmly recalling the failed attempt by some Democrats to steal the election for Al Gore,” then derided Brian Gilmore’s view of the topic as “a whining, emotional fantasy that is filled with false statements about the laws and the courts.”

Mr. Knudsen closed his strongly worded critique by stating that “many thoughtful people still believe that Al Gore as president would have been an unmitigated disaster for the United States and the world.”

Mr. Knudsen is entitled to his point of view and should be commended for publicly sharing it, but it’s too bad he didn’t elaborate further.

I am curious about two things: the identities of the “many thoughtful people” who still believe that Al Gore would have been a disaster as president, and more significantly, what the estimation of those “thoughtful people” (not to mention Mr. Knudsen himself) is of George W. Bush’s presidency, and how it has impacted the United States and the world.

Andrew Young

Cumberland

 


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