The Republicans’ ramming through their so-called reforms of health insurance will pose many problems for Maine residents.

While I object to taking health insurance away from the less fortunate, I also object to the reforms which will drive retirees away from the state.

While cutting inheritance taxes to the wealthy is no doubt meant to attract this population, our real concern is whether we can buy and afford health insurance while we are alive.

I ran into a friend from Texas last week and she said I was so lucky to have retired to Maine because we had good laws. I asked her what she knew about Maine’s laws and she replied, “Well, you can buy health insurance there and we can’t do that here in Texas.”

The so-called reforms will increase our premiums 300 percent and, while insurance is already expensive, it will become out of reach for many individuals who have to buy their own policies.

Plus, if the Ryan Plan is adopted in some form in Washington, the voucher that will be available to retirees here will buy little.

The so-called cheaper plans in New Hampshire are called insurance — they just don’t offer much if you actually get sick. As my father told me, you get what you pay for.

Paul Hogan


State’s politics shaped by governor’s priorities 

We commonly use classes to speak conveniently about political entities — Republican, Democrat, independent, libertarian — but we ought to recall that under these classes are further distinctions: order, family, genus, species, subspecies, varieties, etc.

These distinguished politicians, as we think of our senators and representatives in the order of moderates or liberals, as perhaps clearly distinct from tea party members, our governor does not fit easily into the most widely used sense of “republican”:representing the people.

He would be more conveniently thought of as a subspecies of political animal who has, during his formative years, become a survivor in a cruel family, as many readers have commented.

This survival has endowed him with a primal sense of his surroundings — any threat to his evolving political agenda is met with rather violent opposition, a sort of pugnacious posturing as though Darwinian time for him is foreshortened into four years.

His tooth-and-claw approach to politics does not bode well for his political survival and our polis.

Genera and species even of his own ilk will surely try to rectify the debris he leaves behind.

Would that he could cultivate a civil voice, that he could take measure of the 60-plus percent of voters who chose others.

Perhaps he is a semi-permanent product of his early environment: I am who I am, shaped by family adversity. To survive he depended on instincts. These primitive instincts do not serve him well when the state seeks vision and leadership, not simply brute survival.

Donald E. Stanley


Gov. Paul LePage has no problem telling people where to go. Perhaps the people of Maine will have no problem telling him where to go: Down the hallowed halls of impeachment.

John Golden


It has become glaringly clear recently why this state is in such trouble: bad priorities.

Too much energy has been focused on whoopie pies and that ugly (sorry) mural. Lawsuits have been filed and numerous rallies staged.

Are these insignificant things really all they care about? Where were the rallies when all those businesses left the state? Where is the concern when Maine is constantly rated at the bottom of the list for attracting new business?

Where are the protests when all our children leave because they can’t earn a living here? Who really cares that most Mainers won’t be able to retire in the state they love because they can’t afford it?

Democrats, your party lost the election. Get over it and help fix the state’s problems. We can’t continue on like this. We’ve been told for years that no one wants to bring a business here because of high taxes and regulations, yet many refuse to accept that changes need to happen.

There will come a point where those living off the government and our tax dollars will drastically outnumber the hard-working taxpayers of this state. Then what?

Linda Armitage


Since the November election, when Paul LePage became governor, there has been a constant flow of vitriolic letters to the editor and constant criticism of a man who has been in office less than six months.

But a recent opinion piece from eight Republicans really offended me. With friends like these, who needs enemies? The meanness from the public and now some Republicans does not show me who the real Mainers are.

Since moving here six years ago, the people I’ve met in all walks of life, especially Mainers, have been cordial, kind and extremely outgoing.

The behavior of some of the letter writers, in my opinion, is not representative of what I expected here in Maine. I think your opinion page is, at times, unreadable.

I can only hope that people will realize that Gov. LePage won the election and the state government now has a different party in charge. Let’s go with the flow, give the guy a break and stop with the criticisms.

His words and actions seem to have really got the Democrats in a snit.

Carol A. Grover

Cumberland Foreside 

Efforts need to be made to preserve social programs 

It’s not about free enterprise any more. Every day a cost-cutting measure is introduced to lower the deficit at the federal, state or local level of government. This obsession with the deficit began with a sluggish economy and high unemployment, not alleviated by the government stimulus package.

There has been opposition to regulation of corporations, and acrimonious voices from other political parties.

The preoccupation with the deficit should be looked at in an historical perspective. The United States last had a surplus in the year 2000, so deficits are certainly not something new. In the past 10 years, we have had a major financial debacle, causing a vast decrease in wealth.

We have had two wars and a war on terrorism to support while decreasing taxes. Much of this has caused a cost-cutting that has trickled down to our local communities, where cuts in education may leave our public schools without adequate resources to educate our children.

There is a push to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Social Security has paid for itself when you consider that the Social Security fund shows an under-evaluation of its true asset amount. This is due to government borrowings from the fund.

Medicare is fine with technical adjustments. There is a need to rein in astronomical increases in health care costs. The privatization of Plan D has also caused increases in costs and lower benefits.

Medicaid will continue to increase even more because these cuts will make it more difficult for people to support themselves. Each of these programs has been the subject of misinformation.

These programs are products of both liberals and conservatives. John D. Rockefeller Jr. said these programs are “a by-product of an industrial society.”

The decisions we make regarding these programs as well as others will be a very important part of our generation’s legacy.

Donald R. Caouette


U.S. overextended in wars, needs to help out at home 

As a student at South Portland High School, I read the articles in the papers every day, watch the news every morning, and learn in class about all of the different world conflicts that the United States has its hand in.

I learn that our economy is far overextended and that our citizens struggle every day with their average tasks, like filling their gas tanks, putting food on the table and even maintaining jobs.

What we are not taught, and what we don’t read in the paper, is why the United States is expected to help everyone when they are in a pinch.

We don’t learn about this because quite frankly there is no real reason why we do it. The United States is looked at by the rest of the world as a sort of police or that we have the money to help, when really we don’t at all.

Sometimes there may be an issue with an ally of ours that we should be helping out. But the rest of the time we need to be focused on working on our domestic problems. Our weak economy, our unemployment rate, poverty and our national debt are just a few of the things that we need to be working on.

You need to help yourself before you can help others successfully. I think that there are times when we should intervene in foreign conflicts, but not while we are in the position we are in now.

Robert Hannigan

South Portland 

What’s missing from view on aid for schools? Parents 

I was surprised to see in Ron Bancroft’s commentaries on public education that no mention was made about an important group that can improve schools — parents!

Why are other countries turning out better-educated young people? It’s because parents know how important a good education is to their children’s success in life.

In this country many businesses have national competitions and offer substantial prizes such as $100,000 labs to those schools having the most parental and local involvement.

I know this because my grandson is in a huge K-8 Chicago school that won one of these labs awarded to the 10 most locally supported schools in the United States.

The Nettelhorst Elementary School is huge in every respect. There are 60 children in my grandson’s class divided into two large, well-lit classrooms holding 30-plus students each.

How has a school in a depressed district become such a jewel?

Business people, knowing the worth of education, moved into the area and revived the school several years ago.

Now children from outside the district have to be interviewed for kindergarten to win a place. Once in, they stay.

The parents work in the classrooms when needed and organize an annual fund drive with an online auction and lottery. This brings in close to $90,000 every year.

Margaret T. Hollingsworth