Required reading

Apropos of the controversy surrounding booting medical marijuana use from Section 8 units, I just finished a riveting book that all people who care about this issue should read. Its title is “Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?” The well-supported thesis of this book is that alcohol causes far more social problems than pot. This is due to the biological effects of alcohol compared to the more benign biological effects of pot, not statistical comparisons of their usage rates.

Follow the money on this: The drug, alcohol, law enforcement and prison industries all benefit from incarcerating stoners. Keeping it illegal feeds criminal enterprises. As a nonuser, I have researched the issue and come to the conclusion that it’s past time for a reasonable approach to legalizing marijuana. Get this book and read it.

Abbie McMillen


Northeast Cardiology

I was disappointed to learn that Northeast Cardiology Associates relinquished its independent status to work for a local hospital.

It is regrettable that our health care system pays doctors substantially more when they see a patient in a very expensive hospital setting than a modest private office. This same office visit is much more costly to the patient, the insurer, the health care system and our country.

A private independent doctor treats the patient first, as he or she learned in training. Conversely, the hospital, which is a big business, must make a profit first and treat the patient second. A business’ medical decisionmaking usually differs from a doctor’s medical decisionmaking. A salaried doctor must follow directives established by the business owner.

Obamacare will worsen this problem by forcing doctors and health care providers to work in the more expensive settings in hospitals and government-funded programs. Private practice doctors will continue to disappear.

More patients will receive health care in a business setting, where profit is more important than providing the best patient care. One can only serve one master. I suggest there are much better and more efficient health care models than Obamacare.

Paul Shapero, M.D.


Math mistake?

I don’t know whether to be concerned about our level of education, reporters’ veracity or being misled by our government. In the BDN news briefs on Oct. 17, I once again read the report that Social Security recipients will be getting a 1.7 percent increase in benefits next year, resulting in an “about $40 increase for an average $1,260 per month.”

My problem is simply that an increase from $1,220 to $1,260 ($40) is a 3.3 percent increase, not 1.7 percent. A 1.7 percent increase is only $20.74, not anywhere near close to $40. A lie or just a simple mistake?

Michael Smith

Southwest Harbor

Children’s safety

Can someone please tell me why there is so much opposition to creating “safe zones” in the city of Belfast? I watched the City Council meeting from Oct. 16, and my jaw hit the floor as I listened to these elected city officials question and at times berate Chief Michael McFadden about the area and proximity this measure would encompass.

The question is simply this: Do you want stiffer penalties for people who deal drugs within 1,000 feet of a school or park? Drug dealers prey on places such as schools, city parks and skate parks where kids congregate as a means of growing their “business” and creating repeat customers. Unfortunately, in the world we live in, this is going to happen regardless of whether you believe the war on drugs is working or not. Establishing “safe zones” ensures that when the dealers are caught, they will face harsher penalties. In fact, I am fine with someone caught dealing anywhere to face a stiff penalty.

For Councilor Roger Lee to say he is unable to vote on this measure until he sees a map to ensure it’s fair for people is an absolute travesty. There is no easy answer to the drug problem in our community, but refusing to put up a sign to establish boundaries for our children’s safety is definitely not the way to start.

Mandie Sawyer


Show some sensitivity

I do not believe that the names and addresses of those people involved in the prostitution scandal is a newsworthy event. It is not a major crime. In fact, being charged as a john is the equivalent of getting a speeding ticket.

Do other offenders of similar low crimes have their names made so public? Of course not.

Printing the names of those people suspected of being involved should be a crime. By making these names very public, the newspaper may break up homes or cause the children of those charged the object of ridicule.

There is a feeling that this is a high moral crime and that the alleged johns deserve what’s coming to them. People who feel this way need to rethink their motivations. Should we next put these people into stocks and pelt them with rotten fruit? I don’t see the difference.

People who leave the alleged johns alone will show maturity and sensitivity.

Jon Greenberg


Peace candidate

When I read John Lennon’s words — “Give Peace a Chance” — in the headline of Kathleen Parker’s column ( BDN, Oct. 24), I mistakenly assumed she was writing about the recently departed and true champion of peace: Sen. George McGovern.

Upon further investigation, I realized that she was not referring to the brave man who stood up at the 1968 Democratic National Convention and pledged to begin his administration with an immediate end to the Vietnam War. No, she was naming Republican candidate Mitt Romney as a “peace candidate.”

Her rationale was that he used the word “peace” 12 times in the recent presidential debate. How does that make him a peace candidate? Romney also made the comment during the debate that, “We don’t dictate to nations, we free nations from dictators.” That reasoning has been the rationale behind many of our foreign policy blunders, including the Vietnam War. Freeing nations from dictators is not a peace stance.

Carol Rosinski