Reading Susan Cover’s article about legislative talks on lowering the state income tax (Sept. 8, “Legislators plot a path to slashing income tax”), it isn’t long before we see the all-too-familiar Augusta whine about lost revenue.

Note to Legislature: This in not lost revenue. It isn’t yours in the first place, so it isn’t yours to lose.

Allowing taxpayers to keep a few more hard-earned dollars is a good thing. Proposing to make up this “lost revenue” by taxing businesses and nonresidents is not.

We all know that businesses just pass any tax increase on to consumers, and nonresidents only pay those “consumption taxes” (Augusta-speak for an increased sales tax) for a short time while residents are burdened with it all year round.

The Legislature needs a mind-set change. “Less revenue means less spending, period,” would be a good start.

M. Joseph Murray



Seeing Mideast conflict through different eyes


Henry Precht in his recent Maine Voices column trashing the Mideast policies of Barack Obama (“Obama increasingly powerless in ability to influence Mideast events,” Sept. 15) demonstrates why old statesmen like Precht and Jimmy Carter should engage more in quiet reflection than foreign policy.

Making the same mistake over and over is not experience, and failing to take any responsibility for the fiasco that was U.S. foreign policy during the Carter administration — while believing he can redefine one of the worst presidencies in modern history — does not inspire me.

Precht intentionally skips decades of Arab-initiated wars to destroy the state of Israel and chooses to start history after 1973.

He completely ignores the core issues preventing peace in the Mideast — Palestinian demands that Israel allow up to 5 million “refugees” return to Israel proper and retire to undefendable borders only 10 miles apart in the most hostile region of the planet.

Perhaps I’m wrong about Mr. Precht. Perhaps, as before the fall of our ally, the shah of Iran, to the ayatollahs, he just doesn’t see it.

Bill Zelman

South Portland


I believe there are many people in Maine who, like myself, are both embarrassed and baffled by America’s resistance, by virtue of a threatened veto at the U.N. Security Council, to the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and statehood.

This pernicious policy, sadly continued by the Obama administration, sends a horrific message to the Islamic world and to the community of nations in general. While courageous peoples throughout the Middle East are today struggling for and achieving change, the United States and Israel stubbornly cling to the same old self-defeating positions and policies. Is it not possible that a stable, secure Palestine will lead to a more secure Israel?

I cannot forget the image of Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, the grand puppet master, eliciting standing ovations from our embarrassingly compliant Congress. Nor can I forget his condescending reference to President Obama, who was in Europe at the time. How are we, and the world at large, to interpret such untoward events? Clearly, America’s relationship with Israel is due for an honest, objective review but does the president or anyone in Congress have the political courage to say so?

Philip Carlo Paratore

South Portland


Keep military recruiters out of our high schools


Deborah Bedard wrote on Sept. 11 defending the presence of uniformed military recruiters in high schools (“Students don’t need protection from military recruiters”).

She felt that adolescents, having been taught critical-thinking skills, are not so vulnerable to inducements by good-looking uniformed sales(wo)men as to act against their own best interests. Au contraire, I say!

No matter how well-trained their teachers are, teaching adult-level decision-making to a teen is unlikely to result in adult decisions, as they don’t have adult brains.

It was once thought that brain development was largely finished by the time the teen years were reached. More recently, the NIH has shown that the adolescent brain matures from back to front, and the frontal lobes don’t develop into the adult structures until at least the early 20s.

The frontal lobe is responsible for reasoning and predicting long-term outcomes from choices. It is hypothesized that the “pruning” process in brain maturation reflects the “use it or lose it” principle: Unused pathways wither, and the well-used (e.g. music, sports) become hard-wired.

Who you become as an adult may reflect your wiring. It is unrealistic to expect adult-level decisions from a work-in-progress brain.

Deciding how you might feel about killing a stranger (combatant or noncombatant), even with your government’s approval, is a complex decision. Before signing up for military service, you need to have thought it through. Pretending that teens have their adult brain to do so is contrary to fact.

The military recruiters should not have free access to vulnerable high school students. Parents have the right to “opt out” of release of contact information (and ASVAB results) to recruiters. Through their school boards, parents can advocate limiting student exposure to recruiters on campus.

Steven Zimmerman



The Another View, “Students don’t need protection from military recruiters,” prompts me to write: I’m an old military counselor and I thank the writer. She asks us to stop making every issue an “us versus them.”

Too many, not all, young people enlist in the military because they need jobs and don’t have money for education.

In our distress about life on our planet, we could well provide more life-supporting jobs with less killing of life the world over.

The many young people I know would like a part in that life support, all of us together.

Maria Holt



Civic Center changes not worth the money


I urge my fellow Portland residents to vote “no” on the Civic Center upgrade. The proposed changes are really not significant.

Ten years down the road, they will need another $30 million upgrade.

It’s too bad the city did not have the foresight to build a bigger place at Thompson’s Point like the Red Claws are doing now.

Ed Reagan



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