Although I might understand the point of irony that the recent letter to the editor  “Feeding the animals makes them dependent” (Dec. 10) was trying to make, the comparison was appalling in a number of ways.

First and obviously, saying that those in poverty are like animals fails to put a human face on those who are living day to day without basic essentials of sustenance, namely food in this case.

What about children, single mothers and senior citizens who through no fault of their own use these government programs to survive, especially in difficult economic times? Are they animals feeding at the trough of government spending, or are they just simply surviving hard times?

In our society, many are comfortable with casting blame upon those enduring poverty and moreover, blaming big government, which somehow seems to create and sustain this condition. I would suggest that a truly caring and compassionate society with less greed may be a more suitable answer.

John Barritt’s letter fails to state the obvious: that employers are looking for inexpensive labor and that housing, food and other costs involved with raising a family have skyrocketed.

Second, to say that the government is making people experiencing poverty more dependent is too general for the various life stories that people have for needing the assistance.

With the holidays upon us, could it be said that the many splendid efforts of community groups and the generosity they exhibit are causing some kind of dependency also? Or is it more correct to say that as a society, especially here in Portland, we share with the less fortunate and help those who cannot provide for themselves?

I believe that we all must be very careful in how we speak of those in need — each of us could be there someday. Now that would be irony.

James Fry


It is very disappointing that in the season of Christmas and giving and sharing, the Portland Press Herald would publish a letter that likens the poor to “animals.”

Demeaning our fellow human beings who need assistance has become a way of life for those on the right side of the theater we know as politics. And the willingness to post different points of view here is laudable. But to liken people to animals is childish and wrong.

Here is hoping that the author of this letter never experiences the hardships that many of his fellow human beings and their families face on a daily basis. Here is hoping that he might educate himself on the truth regarding poverty and misfortune in this nation that has treated him well, often at their expense.

And to all those who have felt life’s bitter sting in this year, may Christmas and the New Year bring you better times.

Howard Hanson


Obama’s efforts do nothing to make seniors’ lives easier 

I thought that post-election fatigue would set in, but my neighbor kept relentlessly haranguing me, praising the re-elected messiah Barack Obama.

He continued claiming that Obama is the only one who continues to save Social Security, Medicare, etc.

I blinked and replied that Obama had done nothing for me or any senior citizen, and asked, “Why should I have given him my vote?”

I said that my real estate taxes and Medicare premiums have risen, but my Social Security check had remained stagnant. I asked my neighbor how he enjoyed paying an 80 percent tax on his certificates of deposit at his local bank, and his automatic reply was “I don’t pay any income taxes.”

I looked him straight in the eye and said, “Before Obama, your $100,000 CD returned $5,000-plus. Now you’re lucky to receive $1,000. That looks like an 80 percent tax to me.”

This is not George W. Bush’s fault. I needed to say no more.

Nick Pappas

Cape Elizabeth 

As part of fiscal cliff deal, lawmakers must sacrifice 

Our old Congress is making one last gasp to attempt a compromise that will avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

Will the Bush tax cuts expire and taxes be raised and loopholes eliminated for those earning more than $250,000 per year?

Or will Congress try to balance the budget by cutting entitlements, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare, etc., designed to benefit the middle and lower economic strata in our country?

Some sort of compromise must surely evolve, but in any case, taxes will increase for virtually all segments of our society as we dig out of this astronomical debt that confronts us.

The compromise is going to be painful for every segment of our society.

But to show the country that our elected representatives “feel our pain” and share our burden, wouldn’t it be a stunning example of leadership to the country if this Congress, which so far has the worst reputation of any Congress in history, voluntarily agreed to reduce their own salaries and their own entitlements — pensions, retirement benefits, medical plans and annual salary increases — to indicate that Congress, too, is willing to sacrifice in the national interest?

Just this once, Congress should share the burden it imposes on others.

James Leamon


Complaints by Gov. LePage echo those made about him 

Bill Nemitz’s column (“Smile Guv! You’re in public office!” Dec. 7) about Gov. LePage’s grousing about being video-recorded at public events had a quote from the current governor that, quite ironically, had three words that seem to exemplify perfectly how Maine’s chief executive himself frequently seems to come across:

” ‘I think it’s vulgar, I think it’s vicious and I think it’s vile to me and my family,’ LePage snarled to a packed (and generally shocked) audience.”

Maybe Gov. LePage will do the right thing, in view of his chances for re-election in 2014, and soon resign to spend some quality time at home, explore other interests, seek new opportunities, take on different challenges, etc. We can hope, anyway.

Robert Barter


Where there are ashes, there could be bucket fire 

Please pass on to the husband of the writer of the column “The bucket list — not just for drywall anymore” (Maine Observer, Dec. 2) that placing ashes from a fireplace into a plastic bucket is an extremely dangerous practice. It wouldn’t take much for a hole to be burnt through the bucket and ignite whatever is nearby.

Dan Page

South Portland