It is incomprehensible to me why Republican members of Congress want to reduce or eliminate Social Security and Medicare benefits, especially considering our current economic malaise.

We live in a time when employee pensions are being eliminated by many, if not most, organizations (and being reduced by many others), when at the same time the volatility of the stock market, where the bulk of 401(k) investments are placed, provides little certainty or security.

With high unemployment, why would any member of Congress want to eliminate programs that provide a moderate degree of financial security for retirees?

Admittedly, we need to make these programs more efficient and less costly. One rational solution to Social Security’s funding problem is to eliminate the tax maximum, the maximum earnings on which Social Security’s tax is levied and on which benefits are calculated.

In short, individuals would pay taxes based on their total earnings, either with a much higher maximum or without any maximum.

What is particularly frustrating is that cutting our defense budget is rarely mentioned as a way to cut our debt. Yet, we have enough weaponry in our arsenal to destroy the Earth. That firepower is not effective against terrorists who use primitive and clandestine methods, which is the type of warfare we battle against today.

Attacks on Social Security and Medicare should be rejected by all of us, regardless of age.

At a time when American capitalism has enriched Wall Street but failed to help Main Street and the American worker, we should be willing to stand up to anyone who speaks of eliminating these programs, the last two vestiges of financial security for retirees, many of whom have worked, or will work, almost a lifetime.

Robert J. Prahl


DADT repeal serves cause of equal rights

I retired several years ago after 20 years of service in the U.S. Navy. Due to this, I feel obliged to respond to the Jan. 19 letter written by Larry Marshall of Camden (“DADT repeal has already produced first PC victim”).

Mr. Marshall laments the problems which he predicts will result from the repeal of DADT (“don’t ask, don’t tell). Similar concerns/problems were predicted when the military was fully integrated and women were allowed to compete for all specialties except combat arms. Though not eradicated, problems have been minimalized through education.

I was very disturbed by Mr. Marshall’s inference that if you are different, it must be your choice, and you must expect hostility and lack of acceptance.

Well, though I wouldn’t change it, I was born a woman, my African-American acquaintances assure me they were born black, and there is mounting evidence that homosexuality is also a genetic trait.

Once the repeal of DADT is enacted, homosexual service members will serve openly and not be discharged. Are there some who will have a problem with this? Absolutely!

They will undoubtedly be among the same minority who continue to have issues with race, religion and gender. As far as the concern that we will lose qualified and expensively trained personnel, we already are.

Every year we lose thousands of exemplary service members who have been “outed” or refuse to continue to live a lie. Part of DADT repeal dictates there will be no tolerance of words or actions which disrespect, diminish, or belittle any individual or group.

The officer he refers to as a victim (Capt. Owen Honors) demonstrated one of the worst examples of leadership I saw in my 20 years in the Navy. As far as he is concerned, he is not a victim of political correctness, only of his own words and actions.

My only question is why it took four years for this to be addressed.

Judi Anderson

South Portland

Poor people not burdens, but full of possibilities

It can be said that the poor will always be with us. What needs to be changed is the view that the poor are “burdensome” and not people with “possibilities.”

As a society, we call the poor “lazy,” “stupid” and “not worthy.” As a government, we are currently requiring the poor to stand in a straight line, show us their fingernails and jump through hoops that are not only demeaning but very frustrating.

The poor are not considered productive members of society.

Their children so lauded by the “right to life” movement are marginalized in our education system, live in substandard housing and often go through the day without adequate nutrition. Now the Legislature is considering more hoops and more frustration to eliminate “fraud.”

We have cut subsidies for housing, vocational assistance and educational programs, and make accessing them difficult so those who want them reconsider how important they are.

Let us change the dialogue to a “hand up” rather than a life with punitive criteria.

I would support a movement to use my tax dollars — hard-earned and yet the admission fee to a civilized society — to open up opportunities for those who want housing, a job and an education.

I work with people with mental illness and know for a fact that they would trade their “generous” monthly income for an illness-free life and a chance to show they are “a possibility” and not “a burden.”

Chris Luce


Fort Gorges still needs 200-foot-high U.S. flag 

Once again I say visualize a large, strong flagpole constructed in the middle of Fort Gorges in Portland Harbor, at least 200 feet high, flying a large American flag brightly lighted at night.

Francis Scott Key saw a large American flag waving over Fort McHenry on Sept. 13, 1814, and that sight inspired him to write the poem that became “The Star-Spangled Banner,” our national anthem. “O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave?”

Thanks to the efforts of Marine Bill Whitten, who lives in Yarmouth, we now do have an American flag waving at Fort Gorges, but it is way too small.

A larger flag would still be low enough to not bother aircraft and it would be a fantastic way to greet all the people who visit Portland by sea these days.

Help me create an exciting national landmark for Portland. Imagine a flag that large, well-lighted at night.

Wow! Let’s roll!

Jake Sawyer