It didn’t take long for Mainers to start scratching their heads again.

It appears our governor ran out of the duct tape he promised us.

After a few weeks of relative quiet, he spouted again – this time about the dysfunction in Congress.

We are a big country with 50 states and 50 governors. Only one, Paul LePage, declared a “Civil Emergency to Minimize Fiscal Impacts of Federal Shutdown.”

Attorney General Janet Mills took the words right out of my mouth when she said: “I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about.”

When Democratic legislators pressed him to define the “emergency” and his plans for it, they say they got no answers, just a “cold shoulder.”

No surprise here, just predictable LePage.

Once again, the rest of the country had Maine to chuckle at.

Sadly, we had something new to be embarrassed about.

Maine residents have lived in a state of “UNcivil” emergency since LePage took office. Will it ever end?

Leslie Weiss

Cumberland Foreside 

Buffer zone would serve to address adult bullying

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”

I used to work with teens, and teens can be cruel. But what do we do with adult bullying? Can we take a page from the government’s anti-bullying campaign: “intervene immediately; make sure everyone is safe; meet any immediate medical or mental health needs; model respectful behavior when you intervene”?

Patients, staff and volunteers at the Planned Parenthood Health Center in Portland report feeling unsafe, harassed and intimidated due to protest activity. The Portland City Council has the opportunity to vote to pass a 39-foot patient safety zone around the health center. These 39 feet would help ensure the safety of patients, staff and volunteers.

There are many issues that face our country, such as income inequality and access to education. In comparison to many large-scale challenges, making a 39-foot safety zone is easy. We can create a safe space for women and men seeking reproductive health care. All it takes is 39 feet.

The rights to unharassed access to reproductive health care and freedom of speech are not mutually exclusive. Can the City Council move Portland closer to ensuring both of these rights to its residents?

Elise Pepple


Rise in unwed birth rate reflects significant shift

In his Oct. 4 letter, William Vaughan Jr. asks, essentially, “Why not set criteria for having kids?” He suggests that standards be set and met before allowing childbirth, and notes the cost to the state for much of their care.

I doubt many would want the state to have that power. It’s not like passing a driver’s test, a comparison he makes.

But until recently, the morals and mores of a common culture provided the restraint. The Western culture said, “Don’t have children until you’re married.” To bring a child into the world was seen as a serious responsibility, on many levels. That was the standard in the Western world for many millennia. (The state did set the age of marriage.)

But that began to change in the ’70s. Before then, the U.S. out-of-wedlock birth rate was always under 5 percent – and many of those babies were adopted by couples who couldn’t conceive. In the 1970s, that rate began to rise, and now it’s more than 40 percent. The culture has changed. The media now present the standard.

Mr. Vaughan cites the costs in dollars to the state to help support these children. Poverty and less education is a usual outcome. But the cost can be high in many areas.

He’s not alone in citing this growing trend and its serious consequences. The family is the laboratory for life. It is where values and behaviors are learned.

A recent book by Charles Murray, titled “Coming Apart,” suggests the new upper class is not based on income. It is based on having two parents who are educated.

I can’t agree with Mr. Vaughan on his solution, but I agree that attention should be paid. Over time, this trend has serious consequences.

Jane Merchant


Story about Canadian care offers implausible scenario

I read with interest M.D. Harmon’s glowing account of Dr. Michael Ciampi’s medical practice in South Portland (“Maine doctor uses cash model that worked since Hippocrates,” Oct. 4).

Mr. Harmon is, unsurprisingly, very taken with a doctor who demands cash up front. Equally unsurprisingly, the question of how people who can’t afford cash up front obtain health care doesn’t seem to concern either of them very much at all.

What struck me, however, was Dr. Ciampi’s anecdotal slap at medical care in Canada, with the story of a grandmother who received one hip replacement before “socialized medicine” but who was made to suffer grievously, waiting years for a second hip replacement after “socialized medicine” was introduced.

The Canadian universal health care system was introduced between 1961 and 1966. Hip replacement was a very new and quite radical procedure through the 1950s, with a relatively high failure rate, so if Dr. Ciampi’s grandmother received a new hip “before socialized medicine,” she would have been one of the first people in Canada to do so.

Not only that, the introduction of health services through the 1960s and 1970s did not involve long waits for health care in Canada.

Indeed, they still don’t; average wait times for hip replacements today vary by province – but all are within 60 to 90 days. Unlike the USA, Canada makes all of that information available online.

So what is the chronology here, exactly? A grandmother who received one hip pre-1960, and the second perhaps 30 to 40 years later – and then in a case that would be entirely outside the norm for Canadian health care?

It seems quite likely that Dr. Ciampi is talking through his hat.

Scott MacEachern


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