I have noted a number of articles about senior citizens having issues in the present economic climate. While our elected officials and government employees are scratching their heads, they do not seem to get the fact that they are the cause of the problems for tax-paying seniors.

This year our household was given a $25 per month increase in Social Security. The government then took $16.66 back for Medicare. This left $8.34 per month, which is subject to a federal tax of about $1.25, so I am now left with $7.09 per month or $1.67 per week.

The $25 would have helped me pay for increased fuel and heating costs, which have doubled during this administration. It would also have helped me pay for the increased cost of goods and services due to inflation under the same administration.

Then reality set in when the city announced an increase in property taxes which will cost me about $2.61 a week! So this is another year when seniors who pay property taxes have lost ground.

We now have to find things to cut to keep afloat, because at the city, state and federal level, a “cut” just means they still spend more than the prior year. Keep up the good work — and seniors, hang on to your wallets.

Art Sears

NASA’s new missions boost economy at home

Scott Plummer’s letter of exasperation over what he regards as wasteful spending by NASA (“Washington’s priorities lost in space,” April 11) misses the point. He characterized a $105 million mission to an asteroid as just another government boondoggle.

Like many others’ first reactions, Mr. Plummer fails to realize that every one of those dollars is spent on Earth, in the United States, supporting scientific research, paying salaries and wages of everyone from those who design and build the spacecraft, to the myriad support personnel in launch and mission logistics and communications, to the scientists who analyze the data, to the good folks who maintain the buildings from which all this science is performed.

So many of life’s modern conveniences, such as cellphones and advances in medical technologies, are the results of spin-offs from the space program of earlier decades.

Scientific research satisfies an innate human imperative to explore, it inspires young minds to choose science careers and it imbues us with a justifiable national pride from our government actually doing something extremely well that expands our knowledge and can fill us with awe.

At a time when our government seems to invoke nothing but disdain, I find myself very proud of the achievements of a branch of our government. We need NASA and the advances it brings now more than ever.

Robert A. Burgess

Let those who benefit pay for lobster promotions

As a lobsterman, I am opposed to L.D. 486, which forces lobstermen to pay for advertising and promotions for restaurants and seafood dealers’ sales. The lobsterman loses his license if he doesn’t pay.

If restaurant owners and seafood dealers want advertising and promotions for their markets and their direct benefit, then let them pay for it. The lobstermen should not be billed (for life) for someone else’s business promotions.

You don’t go after the farmer for the supermarket’s sales. The same applies here. Reject this bill.

Doug Dickinson


Don’t cut a department that makes beautiful music

The University of Southern Maine’s School of Music has been and continues to be the strongest music program in the state of Maine, and its graduates have gone on to some of the nation’s top graduate music schools.

Alumni play with some of the world’s most renowned musicians; land roles in top-notch opera companies; win coveted full-time tenure-track positions at good universities; and maintain excellence in music education throughout Maine.

Our ability to stand out in the music world outside of USM has only been possible because of one thing: its outstanding faculty, who are active in their field internationally.

If positions continue to be cut and full-time positions replaced by part-time ones, the quality of the program will be handicapped beyond recognition. Excellence in music requires more individual instruction than almost any other field.

I earned an undergraduate degree from USM, and graduate degrees from Indiana University. I won prizes in international competitions, concertized around the world, and was a full-time tenure-track piano professor at another well-respected, strong state school music program.

I collaborate with some of the best musicians in the world and trained students who go on to be prize-winners and teachers. None of this would have been possible without being able to get a truly great music background that was also affordable.

USM and the community should take pride in the fact that its School of Music is the only place in the state to get a competitive, comprehensive music education. The School of Music should be recognized and protected as one of the strongest programs in the university, and a crucial part of greater Portland.

The arts are a valuable part of the university and the city, and it will be a sad day when Greater Portland has no such program.

Anastasia Antonacos

I’m writing to call attention to the serious results the wide cuts to the music department at USM will have on the community.

Student musicians and those studying music as part of a liberal arts academic program suffer; as important to the community, the number of individuals and groups prepared to participate in performances throughout the Portland area will be diminished, as will performances at USM itself.

Solo recitals, choral and instrumental group offerings and the music department’s participation in USM theater productions are all at risk.

I shudder to think of the precedent being set if these cuts go through. It will basically paint a target on the proverbial back of music at USM. It really could all disappear. Which would be tragic.

I recognize major cuts have been dictated and that all departments need to share in those cuts.

But, it would appear that the cuts to the music department are not only disproportional but would affect some of the most vital areas of that department.

I would hope the powers that be would carefully reconsider how they go about balancing the budget.

Noelle Neuwirth