Russian wisdom

Recently, I experienced for the first time on Turner Classic Movies an introduction to the Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in a rendition of “The Brothers Karamazov.” Feeling an urge to delve into a comprehensive history of the man in my encyclopedia, I was struck by a quotation taken not from the “Brothers” but another of his famous novels, “The Adolescent.” The father says to his adolescent son, “Even if you discovered the secrets of the exact sciences, the question would still remain: What shall we do then? With that amount of comfort, what is there to live for? I admit that, so far as feeding mankind, to feed and share equally is at the moment also a great idea. But it is a minor and subsidiary one, for after man has been fed he will most surely ask what he has to live for.”

Back to the coincidence. Just this past weekend, in the review section of the Wall Street Journal, which filled the first page with a picture that took up half the space of a young man with a stethoscope in his ears and a smartphone dangling beneath in large black letters, announced the amazing new addition to our technology: “Your smartphone will see you now,” followed by “from phone attachments that can diagnose an ear infection to apps that can monitor your mental health, a range of new high-tech tools promises to tilt health-care control from doctors to patients.” The article follows on page two.

Wouldn’t you say this puts to rest, “What shall we do now?”

Didi Hundley


Support aging agency

While waiting for the callback I knew from experience would be prompt and courteous, as well as informative, I took a look at the Annual Report for Eastern Area Agency on Aging at

I’m sorry I didn’t do it soon enough to write this memo last fall to all of you now reading this, whose annual income puts you in the category of folks sending year-end — tax-deductible — contributions to your favorite charities. But “better late than never.”

Each of us is aging every year, and some — like me — may become unexpectedly unemployed, with drastically reduced incomes. If I had a car and could pay for the gas, I’d volunteer my time to EAAA, but I don’t. So I’m donating $5 to EAAA this year, representing one-thousandth of my total annual income — and not tax deductible.

Why not do the same? That would be $50, if you earn $50,000 a year and to some of you more like $500 — some lawyers’ hourly rates. But hey, even $25 would help EAAA. And you probably don’t need to wait until next fall’s charity check-writing season starts. You could do it today.

Jane Livingston


Alfond’s tax move

In a Jan. 9 column, “Cutting income taxes won’t attract retirees and businesses to Maine,” Albert A. DiMillo, Jr. says taxes have little to do with where retirees choose to live. Then perhaps he can explain why Harold Alfond, founder of Dexter Shoe, a pillar of Maine’s once robust manufacturing economy, was discovered to be a resident of Florida when he passed away at the age of 93. Florida has no income or inheritance taxes.

Eliminating income and inheritance taxes, as Gov. Paul LePage is proposing to do, may not motivate retirees to move to Maine, but perhaps it will keep them from leaving.

Douglas Johnson