Old, white perspective

“Maine, oldest, whitest” is 2000 census data, not front page news. “News” means “new” and there is nothing new about 9-year-old news. As suggested by another reader’s letter, one wonders about a patronizing political correctness or majority guilt agenda. Should we descendents of Plimoth Plantation and our other ancestors who greeted them apologize for affirmative action exclusion? The attention-grabbing banner headline seems more accusative than informative.

Maine may be the “whitest and oldest” state in terms of 2000 census data but not in newspaper-inserted and other Maine consumer targeted advertising in the media. A naive flatlander and gerontology student at UMass. Boston, yours truly completed print “advertising ageism” surveys from 2000 to 2006. Of 22,418 adult models in clothing and other ads, only 222 (.9 percent) were older adults while 22,196 (99 percent) were younger adults. In the 2006 final survey, 1,590 of 6,080 models were children and youth. Only 40 were older adults in this “oldest” state. Furthermore, 19 percent of 22,418 adult models from 2000 to 2006 appeared to be people of color compared with 2000 census 3.78 percent minorities in this “whitest” state.

Maybe there’s a more appropriate newspaper section for sociological news. Creation in the mortal world is making something out of nothing but repeating isn’t reporting and it certainly isn’t creative. Coming up with real reader relevant news day after day is challenging. Maybe that’s why it takes four years to earn a baccalaureate degree in journalism at a reputable institution of higher education.

Leonard C. Harlow


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Beating obesity

I’ve seen numerous articles recently on the problem of obesity in Maine, but rarely do I see any reference to one of the best ways for a person to lose weight and keep it off: Overeaters Anonymous. Based on the 12-step program originating with Alcoholics Anonymous, OA’s program provides guidance and support for anyone with an eating disability, from obesity to bulimia and anorexia.

In the Bangor area, numerous groups meet regularly, and some individuals have 30 or more years of abstinence from foods that have caused them problems. The program is free, unlike many diet and calorie “clubs” and self-sustaining through donations of its members. Anyone may join, and OA has no affiliations with other or-ganizations, ideologies or religious doctrines.

Anyone wishing to contact local members or find a meeting can call 211 or go to www.oa.org.

Barbara Sosman


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Sensible to be wary

Brewer’s Superintendent of Schools Dr. Daniel Lee should be commended for his insight into the decision not to participate in the state’s extended computer program for all high school students.

Two-hundred and forty-four dollars does not sound like a lot of money for a new computer for each student but that is only the beginning. This is a lease program that involves payments over several years for the duration of the lease.

As Dr. Lee stated, Brewer could probably afford the first lease payment but in a world of such economic uncertainty, he could not, with clear conscience, compromise his budget with such uncertainty.

Frankly, I was shocked to read this past winter of the state’s plan to extend the computer program to include all high school students under the current economic conditions.

Here’s hoping that all the other school districts within the state use the common sense approach that Dr. Lee has shown in determining whether to jeopardize their school budgets for a program that is clearly frivolous in these economic times.

Beth Dalton


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Simple solution

Much has been written about marriage being between one man and one woman and the gay community is offended because they cannot be joined together as a couple. I think I have the perfect solution. Let us change the textbook definition of marriage and civil union.

A marriage is a ceremony performed in a religious institution by an ordained clergy person whereby two people make a lifetime commitment to each other. A civil union is a ceremony performed by any licensed civil servant whereby two people make a lifetime commitment to each other. Then our laws should read that any two people who have entered into a ceremony performed by a duly authorized official and have made a lifetime commitment to each other have all the same financial benefits allowed to committed couples and both types of commitments require a civil divorce to end it.

That should do it.

Shirley G. Aube


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Denmark health care

Health care for everyone at half our current cost and with improved benefits. That is what Denmark proudly has with a single-payer system for health care. At $2,743 per person annual health costs (OECD in 2003) in Denmark versus $5,711 in the U.S., we give away 6.3 percent of our GDP to for-profit inefficiency. Let us re-lease the $900 billion yearly inefficency difference now used for million-dollar executive salaries and for shuffling layers of paperwork, and then health-insured entrepreneurs will find investment for this money to make us self-sufficient for energy and create well-paying jobs.

Our life expectancy is the same as Denmark but with improved health maintenance from a single-payer system, perhaps we can reduce our 2008 infant mortality in U.S. which is 44 percent higher than in Denmark (CIA World Factbook).

What are we waiting for?

Thomas Sandford


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Medicare for all

Fifty-nine percent of Americans say they want a single payer, not-for-profit, cost-effective health insurance plan that allows them to make their own medical decisions. Fortunately, we have just such a plan: It’s called Medicare. It works and it should be extended to all Americans.

Because Medicare works so well it is hard to understand why the president and Congress are unwilling to extend this plan to all Americans. One very discouraging reason comes to mind: They are listening to the insurance industry and not to an America that desperately needs single-payer, universal health care to make it stronger, healthier and more competitive in a world market where every other industrialized country has universal health care that costs less than our current system.

Medicare can be extended gradually, and insurance companies can learn to tighten their belts and adjust gradually just like everybody else. Providing universal health care is not rocket science. We already have a working model. It’s working right now. Everybody over 65 knows it works and so do our representatives in Congress. Ask them why they are not supporting Medicare for all.

Janet M. Alexander

Old Town

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