Which side are you on?

This is just a reminder that the standard eight-hour workday and weekends off has not always been the norm. Much of what we do not even think about now in the workplace is due to generations of organized workers before, many of whom literally gave their lives for a better, safer, more fair workplace. But you must fight to keep it.

Power is never granted, it must be taken. If allowed, you would work as long as the boss wanted you to work, for as little as he or she wanted to pay you. It would be just enough time to get some sleep and eat, and just enough pay to keep you right where you are.

Any benefits that organized labor has achieved are now attacked as lavish and undeserved. They are, in fact, what every working human deserves and should be held up as a good thing, not bad. The economic benefits (and motives) of union cutting are at best, debatable.

Many or most corporations (and their administrators) and politicians are not beholden to you or me. They are beholden to a mixture of money, power and cronyism. People look out for them and theirs in the understanding that the favor will be returned. If you’re in this loop, and shy on ethics, I’m sure it’s great. If not, well, then you’re the other America.

Peter Altmann


King’s insult

Regarding the phrase author Stephen King used to describe at Gov. LePage: stone brain: rock solid, firmly standing one’s ground after weighing facts and ideas. Smile!

Sarah P. Pendleton


U.S. Torture

One of the first things candidate Obama said he would do if elected president was to shut down Guantanamo prison. Three years later he’s given the “go ahead” for military tribunals and the cruel and inhuman treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning is occurring in Quantico, Va., Marine base.

Manning is charged with passing documents to WikiLeaks (a website that provides newsworthy information to the public). He’s been held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day with limited human contact. Under the guise that he’s a danger to himself, he’s checked every five minutes. He has been stripped naked each night and paraded in front of officers with his hands tied behind his back and legs spaced shoulder-width apart.

These measures are so extreme that they can fairly be defined as torture. Once again it appears that the military is using extreme measures to gain a desired confession.

Military psychiatrists have made over a dozen recommendations indicating Mr. Manning should be taken off these restrictions stating he is not a danger to himself. Brig commanders ignored their suggestions. The question remains whether these physicians have done enough to protect the rights of their patient. I have worked on inpatient psychiatric units and to my knowledge, no patient on a suicide watch was ever stripped of their clothing and paraded in front of staff.

TragIcally, in this case, it appears Abu Ghraib is alive and well in U.S.-based military prisons.

Phyllis Coelho


Outraged at media

I find it totally unfair that an earthquake should overshadow the importance of the royal wedding, Charlie Sheen and Lady Gaga. What is the world coming to? Please tweet your friends and tell them of this outrage.

George Dooley

Seboeis Plantation

Level playing field

I sense that the proposals being made by our Gov. LePage are hurtful to the very backbone of the people of Maine. Over the past decades our Legislature has overspent its budget, borrowed beyond its means, and now the governor would like to make catastrophic cuts in one year to make up for more than 20 years of mistakes. I view this as placing money over people’s needs.

Years ago, our Legislature, under Gov. Longley, borrowed $9 million from the Maine State Retirement System. Later, they borrowed another $14 million from MSRS. All this robbed the MSRS of funds paid in that have never been repaid.

Our governor’s proposal is to make those under MSRS responsible for mistakes by the Legislature and to charge them an additional 2 percent, and to penalize those retiring before the age of 65.

The unfairness comes in the fact that our legislators can cash in on both MSRS and Social Security and not be subject to the “double dipping” policy to which all Maine state workers and teachers are subjected. They can also get 100 percent of their health insurance paid for life.

Let’s start by making legislators play by the same rules as other members. Those legislators passing these proposals should think about the tens of thousands of constituents who will vote them out next term. Our governor should think, “What is more important, money or people’s needs?

Bud Merrill


Ethanol boondoggle

In the Other Voices section on the editorial page on March 21 was an editorial from the Post and Courier of Charleston, N.C., titled “Ethanol Boondoggle.” Oh, hallelujah, a voice of reason!

It wasn’t too long ago that the BDN had an editorial along the same lines. Ethanol is costing Americans huge amounts of money, and who’s getting that money? Agribusiness firms and the ethanol industry. And as a bonus, we’re wasting precious fuel.

I drive a hybrid vehicle which has a very unfortunate feature. My gas mileage is figured for me and is right there on the dashboard to see. Every time I look at it, I swear. It used to read 50 mpg. It currently reads 41.3 mpg. It started dropping as soon as I started putting E10 gas in my car.

Food prices have skyrocketed. What do we feed cattle, pigs, chickens, sheep, etc.? Corn.

Corn is far more expensive since we’re burning it in our cars. All meat products have gone up.  A lot of wheat farmers switched to growing corn because they could make more money that way, so the price of anything with wheat in it has risen.

Not only should the increase from 10 percent to 15 percent ethanol be blocked, the whole thing ought to be scrapped. I’m tired of my tax dollars subsidizing this boondoggle!

Cindy Carusi


Time for alternatives

Am I correct thinking all you good folks opposing windmills would rather have a nuclear plant, or two or three in Maine? The world’s three most destructive accidents all stemmed from different causes — Chernobyl, Three-Mile Island and now Fukushima.

Oil, a climate destabilizing fuel, will become prohibitively expensive in time. The alternatives? Gas, for a while, then nuclear, renewables (wind, tides, etc.) and serious conservation and renewables.

Dick Hale