When I picked up my Thanksgiving Day edition of The Portland Press Herald, fat with advertising circulars, I gave thanks — because ad revenue keeps daily papers going. I never want the day to come when the only way to find out what’s going on in the world or in my community is by squinting at a computer screen.

Then, when I opened the paper and saw a photo of a family camped out in front of a discount electronics retailer on the Sunday night before Thanksgiving to avail themselves of Black Friday discounts, I again gave thanks — for my family’s tradition of a Christmas lottery, in which each adult draws a name and buys one well-considered and not-expensive gift (though we have great fun putting together stockings for each other and always have small gifts for our mother, who will be 88 this year).

Our family isn’t religious, but we do have a strong belief that Christmas means more than retail madness.

Ellen D. Murphy

Portland

Well, folks, welcome to the Christmas shopping season where anywhere in America you can get pepper-sprayed, shot or mugged on Black Friday!

Is Black Friday really worth it?

Dennis Ouellette

Saco

Union contracts benefit management ranks as well

Here’s a dirty little secret: Management loves unions. They love them because any deal that a union gets (benefits, overtime, etc.), management gets a better one. … If the union gets guaranteed pay raises, well, the folks supervising them will have to get paid more, as it’s unthinkable that they get paid less than the people who work for them.

The only companies that are complaining about how the unions are bankrupting them are the ones whose poor management has led them to financial ruin. Since when have the unions dictated management policy? Let’s place the blame where it belongs. I agree that some of the contracts that unions have gotten need revisiting, but then so do the compensation packages of the management.

My father was a manager at the local paper mill. When the company told the union that they’d have to take a 33 percent pay cut as the company was in trouble, he was asked why management wasn’t taking the same pay cut. His response? “Because we don’t have to.”

When was the last time you heard the CEO of a company say, “I made some really bad decisions running this company, so the shareholders are firing me and I’m not getting any severance package, as I don’t deserve one”? That would be revolutionary.

Bill Barker

Westbrook

AmeriCorps well deserves continued support, funding

As the sluggish economy continues to create barriers to employment for many people in northern New England, community service has provided opportunities for people to support those in need and increase the capacity of organizations doing important community work, all while enhancing professional skills for those who are serving.

Two such programs here in Maine, the Emergency Response Corps and the Great Strides Rural Education Corps, are AmeriCorps programs funded federally by the Corporation for National and Community Service and operated locally by Goodwill Industries of Northern New England, with technical assistance provided by the Maine Commission for Community Service.

Both the ERC and Great Strides programs create a formal structure allowing AmeriCorps “members” to address community needs while receiving training and work experience that will enhance their future careers.

More specifically, the ERC helps rural volunteer emergency response organizations increase their ability to respond to calls more quickly and efficiently by growing their volunteer pools and providing responder training.

The Great Strides program assigns AmeriCorps members to rural school districts in an effort to ensure high school completion for at-risk students. These are just two of the many examples of AmeriCorps programming at work here in Maine.

Recently, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee proposed the elimination of funding for all CNCS programs, including AmeriCorps. This would not only impact the AmeriCorps members themselves, but also weaken the communities in which the 80,000 members are currently serving across the country.

Please contact Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and House members Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree to let them know that you support community service and all that it does for our state.

Richard Cantz

Goodwill Industries of Northern New England

Portland 

Accused deserves help looking after best interests

Thank you to The Portland Press Herald for bringing Shawn Garland’s plight to public attention (“Garland pleads guilty to murder in stabbing death,” Nov. 16).

This young man clearly has competency issues yet is empowered to make decisions on his own behalf with significant and injurious consequences to himself.

If Garland is incapable of looking to his own best interests, even with the assistance of a lawyer who presumably cares for those interests, then what hope does he have to fend for himself in a prison population full of ruthless men who won’t hesitate to take advantage of his condition?

There has been a growing movement to empower the mentally disabled with decision-making abilities on all fronts of their lives, despite their manifest inability to recognize all the consequences of their decisions or actions.

Garland’s right for freedom should not supersede his right to be protected by those who understand all too well what he is going to suffer for his choice.

Zoe Goody

Cape Elizabeth

Reader questions former Maine secretary of state

I’m responding to Rodney S. Quinn, a former Maine secretary of state. His statement, “Politicians have sought to control or manipulate voting ever since George Washington campaigned for the Virginia House of Burgesses” (“Efforts to restrict voting pose threat to democracy,” Nov. 23), is a bit troubling.

I expect him, as a former secretary of state, to know more about the manipulation of voting than most Maine citizens. I have to ask, how is it possible for politicians to “manipulate voting”; how do they go about that? What did he do when he was secretary of state to protect my vote from this manipulation?

I do not want my vote canceled out by some nonresident who casts a “manipulated” vote that in effect cancels my vote. That is why I voted no on Question 1.

Larry Grimard

Jefferson