The Occupy Wall Street movement reminds me of the tea party movement.

Both factions are angry at some faceless “other.” The tea party was angry at “big government.” This presumably does not include the Defense or Homeland Security departments. The Occupy Wall Street faction is angry at “the rich” and “corporations.” This presumably does not include Warren Buffett or Sen. John Kerry, nor National Public Radio or Amtrak.

Each faction decries a different set of injustices. The tea party sees regulation and taxation as obstacles to growth. It thinks our generous social safety net discourages work and creates dependency. The Occupy faction sees an enormous disparity in wealth distribution and views the current political system as favoring the wealthy at the expense of the poor.

In short, both factions cite real and imagined problems, but neither demonstrates an understanding of those issues. Surely, regulation and tax policies are cumbersome. This causes businesses to incur excessive compliance costs and makes tax collection more expensive for the IRS.

Surely some in our society do abuse our generous social safety net. But not all regulations, taxes and entitlements are wasteful, cumbersome or abused. This nuance is lost on much of the tea party.

Likewise, the disparity between rich and poor is not healthy for society. Our current political system certainly favors those who can afford lobbyists, give generous campaign donations or funnel money to politicians in exchange for political favors.

But not all wealth disparities are due to gaming the system or being taken advantage of. Not all politicians are corrupt. Not all lobbyists act outside of the public interest. Corporations are not inherently evil.

This nuance is lost on much of the Occupy faction. Rather than seeking to understand these issues, each faction peddles easy answers.

This won’t end well.

Tim Mathews


The photograph on the front page of the Oct. 4 Press Herald puts the “anti-capitalism protest” in perspective. Most of those young marchers on Congress Street are simply having fun and probably wouldn’t know a hedge fund from a hedgehog.

But their recruiters succeeded in capturing Page 1.

Dennis Twomey

Old Orchard Beach

It has been at least two hours since I read your lead story on the front page of the Oct. 4 paper, “Adding their voices” (on the protests about Wall Street), and I still cannot wipe that bemused smile off my face.

This article has transported me back to the ’60s, when we were treated to protests across the country by what were then called “hippies.”

People with painted faces, jugglers and costumed protesters wandering aimlessly in the streets and parks with dog-eared posters stating “Make Love, Not War” and, oh yes, “The Man Is Keeping Us Down.” All of them had their own message.

The current protests, in the tongue-in-cheek words of a great American, Yogi Berra, are like “deja vu all over again.”

I would like to be able to take a position on this show of shows, but their voices and messages are all over the place and confusing to an old guy like me. Maybe a few nights in a damp park will give them some clarity and thin the ranks a bit.

Until then, I am getting my tie-dyed T-shirt, headband and hula hoop ready for this weekend. One can never be overprepared, you know. By then I may actually have been successful in finding one of them committed enough to actually make me understand what this is all about.

Oh yes, one more thing: Do any of these people work for a living? How fortunate that they have all these days to wander and parade aimlessly on the streets of Portland looking for a cause. I am jealous!

Jim Brown


Critics of GOP lawmakers mistaken on facts and logic

Don’t believe everything you read. This advice would have served The Portland Press Herald and other media outlets well when they received a news release recently from the group Protect Maine Votes.

The organization, which is trying to overturn Maine’s new common-sense voting guidelines through a people’s veto, listed a number of Republican legislators who — the group claims — registered to vote on past election days. They say that makes those lawmakers hypocrites because they now support the new law that requires Maine residents to register to vote two business days before the election.

First, this is an absurd argument. It’s like saying someone who drove 45 miles per hour when that was the speed limit, but then supported lowering it, is a hypocrite. Like anyone who registered to vote on past election days, they were following the law that was in effect at the time.

What’s equally alarming is Protect Maine Votes got the facts wrong in its news release, and media outlets throughout the state ran with it.

Had the group done a minimal amount of research, one error it would have found was the claim that Rep. Amy Volk of Scarborough registered to vote on Election Day in 1999.

In fact, she registered to vote on Oct. 27 of that year, which was the Wednesday before the election. The town of Scarborough didn’t process her registration card until Oct. 30.

Preliminary findings indicate Protect Maine Votes incorrectly named a number of other legislators on its list. This calls into question not only the group’s credibility, but its motivation in what seems to be a desperate attempt to mislead Maine voters.

I sponsored the bill that requires voters to register two days before the election because it is a reasonable measure to ensure voting officials around the state have enough time to process the growing number of late registrations and absentee ballots. Most states require voters to register weeks in advance.

In an election, accuracy is the top priority. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Protect Maine Votes.

House Speaker Robert Nutting


Bracelet kerfuffle shows confusion over issues

I write to commend Medomak Valley High School for reversing its ban on breast-cancer awareness bracelets (“School ends ban on bracelets for breast cancer cause, Sept. 27). The entire incident reveals a deeper problem, however.

The fact that the bracelets were initially included in the ban against wearing anything with sexual connotations is troubling. Breasts are not inherently sexual, and the whole point of the bracelets is to encourage women to regard their breasts with respect and to increase awareness about breast cancer.

It is the school, not the students with bracelets, that was thinking of breasts in sexual terms. It is the school, not the students, that needs to change its behavior and its attitude.

Jennifer Tuttle