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Letters

LETTER: Why Maine needs welfare reform

To the Editor:

Mainers are tired of out-of-control welfare spending. The most recent data (2010-National Association of State Legislators) shows Maine’s welfare budget to be 30% of the total expenditures made each year. That ranks us second in the nation among the 50 states and District of Columbia.

We rank third in TANF-enrolled households, second in households receiving food stamps and third in Medicaid eligibility. It became clear that changes must occur and the eligibility must be curbed back closer to federal standards—not where it currently fell.

With that in mind, the Republican majority in Augusta spent considerable time reviewing all aspects of welfare spending and made changes that the majority will appreciate, despite the loud complaints from a few in the minority. Perhaps it’s time to understand why these changes were made and how Maine compares to the rest of the country with regard to usage and eligibility.

TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) is a federally mandated program that requires participants to participate in jobs or training and allows them five years of benefits to do so. Participants are assigned a case worker (in addition to their DHHS primary caseworker) and must sign a commitment letter to meet certain goals during the program.

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LETTER: What do Democrats mean by the “LePage Agenda?”

To the Editor:

Maine Democratic Party advertisements have been popping up all over the Internet, even on conservative sites, with menacing pictures of our governor under such slogans as “Help Us Fight the LePage Agenda.” Three things seem clear from this from this phenomenon.

First, these wholesale Internet ads are cheap. Second, the Democrats are committed to negative campaigning. Third, Maine’s Democrats are running against Paul LePage in 2012, even though he is not running again until 2014.

I predicted as much to the governor in August 2011 and found he already expected it. I foresaw this because the Democrats’ candidate for the District 121 special election at that time was distributing a hand-out that attacked the governor by name in three places while making no mention at all of Nancy Thompson, her Republican opponent.

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“Demographic Winter” has severe economic consequences for Maine

As the number of Maine residents continues to decline, the state is staring into a population abyss that could mean the loss of 47,000 working-age people in 10 years and 101,000 workers in 20 years.

The state’s declining population, coupled with a rapidly growing segment of people over 65, has serious economic ramifications for both Maine’s business community and the state government. As younger residents leave Maine and the older generation dies off, businesses will continue to lose employees and customers.

At the same time, Maine’s remaining population will age rapidly and demand more of state government’s dwindling resources.

These startling statistics are included in a new report by The Maine Heritage Policy Center, titled “The Fiscal Costs of Maine’s Demographic Winter.” See the report at www.mainepolicy.org.

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LETTER: No-tolerance, respectful behavior needed in schools

To the Editor:

For years, I have written about the failure of public education. I did so, always fearful that I was the only reader. Now, someone, in last week’s Twin City TIMES, has responded. I am, of course, truly delighted. (Letter to the Editor:“Teachers have to tolerate belligerent, rude students,” TCT, August 9, 2012)

I have been, I believe, in a precarious position. Convinced that our public schools were failing—and failing terribly—I still harbored a fragile hope that I was mistaken and that someone would rush forward to point to the irrefutable truth of their success.

For me, that would have caused mixed emotions; I would have been overjoyed, but also embarrassed because it would have revealed me as an ignorant fool who should have kept his mouth shut. Actually, I hear that a lot, although not always as clearly expressed. Sometimes, it’s just eye rolling.

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LETTER: Tough questions on “fair share” tax structures

To the Editor:

Susan Collins recently gave hope of independence and leadership when she parted company with her Republican colleagues in the United States Senate to support a much fairer approach to balancing the federal budget.

Senator Collins voted against a bill that would have extended huge tax cuts for those making over a quarter million dollars a year—cuts that were originally passed before the Great Recession hit and when the federal government was running budget surpluses. Like most Americans, Senator Collins recognizes we can no longer afford these expensive giveaways to those who need them least.

Unfortunately, such hope lead to disappointment when Senator Collins failed to support a reasonable, Democratic-sponsored “Middle Class Tax Cut” bill.

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LETTER: Teachers have to tolerate belligerent, rude students

To The Editor:

When people are ignorant about a topic or subject matter, the very last thing they should do is embarrass themselves by writing about it in any sort of public newspaper editorial.

I am speaking specifically about the Letter to the Editor in the August 2 issue of Twin City TIMES, written by Dick Sabine of Lewiston, titled “Teachers should emulate the work ethic of craftsmen”.

First, I would highly suggest that Mr. Sabine read Lewiston’s Republican Mayor Robert Macdonald’s “Enough is Enough” column in the same issue of Twin City TIMES, which is far more intelligently written with the knowledge and wisdom best needed to understand the reasons for this state’s and this country’s educational woes. (And I’m a proud Democrat!)

The only part of Macdonald’s column that I disagree with is his last sentence about “Don’t Forget: Remember in November”. You see, this is not—nor should it ever be—a political problem to solve. Why? Because politicians cannot legislate parents and how they raise their children.

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LETTER: A better quality of education

To the Editor:

While Lewiston Mayor Bob Macdonald was making a very valid point regarding Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s bias towards a franchise based on the beliefs of the company’s president, he tipped his hand and as usual showed that he is equally unbalanced in the opposite direction. (“Enough is Enough: Freedom Trail belongs to everyone, not just liberals,” TCT, July 26, 2012)

In answer to his question: yes, I can say “busing”. I grew up in Belmont, Mass, in the 1970s, and I’m a better person for going to a school which participated in the METCO program.

I’m still friends (via Facebook) with a man who has had tremendous success as an entrepreneur and who will tell you that this program afforded him a far better quality of education than the low-income urban environment in which he lived.

Why is Mayor Macdonald so concerned about Boston anyway?

Joan Clifford

Lewiston

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LETTER: You can choose to change L-A and Augusta

To the Editor:

Recently I have been reading a large number of articles that give me great cause for concern over the Lewiston-Auburn area, the State of Maine and our nation as a whole. It would be impossible to address every one of them here, and I rather doubt that TCT would allow me that much space.

I did want to specifically address the problems voiced by Lewiston Mayor Robert E. MacDonald in his column titled “Political leaders are the culprits in the welfare mess,”which appeared in the July 12 edition of TCT.

The mayor outlined the influx of cases for general assistance. All descriptions of the masses descending on City Hall aside, the mayor outlines a severe problem, which the City of Lewiston—as well as the State of Maine—is not adequately prepared to address. The number of people now basically enslaved to Maine’s welfare system is monumentally high, and it just continues to grow with no end in sight.

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LETTER: Teachers should emulate the work ethic of craftsmen

To the Editor:

We spend millions on education, but our local schools continue to fail. Their students, our children, face a forlorn future, yet no one is alarmed. This has endured for too long.

Perhaps our situation is similar to the Russian farmer, who during an especially cold winter had to bring his cow inside his home. Although initially unpleasant, after a while, the family became used to it.

Taxpayers and especially the parents of school-age children should be outraged, but are not. Teachers, although embarrassed, should be determined to succeed, but are apparently neither embarrassed nor determined.

Teachers appear to have accepted their failure and have become willing to endure what might be slight criticism, while they continue to enjoy secure employment and the promise of a profitable early retirement.

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Op/Ed: Elected representatives should provide a layer of protection for the taxpayer

To the Editor:

In response to Orion Breen’s letter in the July 19 issue of TCT, “Taxes are a necessary good,” I disagree with the author’s characterization of those who oppose excessive taxation as irrational and irresponsible promoters of fear and hatred of government.

This is the hyperbolic rhetoric often employed by big-government advocates who wish to pick the pockets of tax payers indiscriminately without accountability—and accountability is the key word here. It is not an accurate characterization.

All taxation should be accompanied by accountability, and it for a long time it was not. Some legislators—and Mr. Breen—have been much too quick to believe that more taxes were always the answer and that tax cuts always hurt people. That is changing.

When it comes to raising taxes—or maintaining taxes—the following four questions are now being asked: Are they necessary? Are they cost effective? Are they with the consent of the public? Is the government efficiently using what it already has? When the answer is found to be no, our more responsible elected officials are opposing them.

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