No taxes from me

Yesterday I finished my income tax and discovered that according to the rules, I owe almost $3,500 in federal taxes. It was a moment of moral struggle for me. I am aware that paying the tax would make life simpler without putting me in financial crisis. Still, that is a privilege that too many others do not have. I can only feel OK by accepting responsibility for how this money will be used.

I have studied reports of where our tax dollars go: half to the military, such as the Defense Department, the weapons industry and payment on the debt for past wars; and half to the common good, such as education, healthcare, Social Security, environmental protection and housing.

I would be happy to pay half the owed taxes if it were possible to earmark this payment for the common good. But it is not; half of whatever I pay will go for military spending. So, the moral question facing me is: Am I willing to pay for drones, bombs or any military weapons that kill large numbers of innocent civilians — the “collateral damage” of our military policies? And what about the moral injury and possible physical harm to the soldier who does the killing?

For me,the choice is clear. I will send in my income tax statement with a letter of refusal to pay the taxes for the reasons stated above. Instead, I will donate the tax amount to some of the many organizations that work for the common good such as the Bangor Public Library, Efficiency Maine, H.O.M.E. and the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

Margaret deRivera

Orland

Raise minimum wage

As a social work student and support worker for families in my community, I have had the opportunity to learn about not just the causes of social inequality, but also its effects on the well-being of those who experience such inequality. I believe that every individual and family in Maine should be provided the opportunity to earn a wage that is sufficient to meet their basic needs, regardless of background or level of education.

This means raising our current minimum wage until it becomes a living wage. Several bills regarding the raising of the minimum wage are being presented this legislative session. Most propose raising it incrementally over several years to allow businesses the opportunity to adjust, and then propose it remain fair and level with inflation as it rises each year. Providing the opportunity for minimum-wage workers to be able to earn a living wage will also cut down on public assistance costs and boost Maine’s economy.

It is important as residents of this state that we become informed about the benefits we can reap if we support this cause. Transforming our minimum wage into a living wage has the potential to provide huge benefits for individuals, families and whole communities in Maine.

Kelly Gagliardo

Orono

Beach access dispute

I have read and reread article upon article about the Owls Head property easement debate. Since 1986 when the first easement was put in place, allowing neighbors to cross the property or use the beach, there hasn’t been an issue.

The current owners, the Edwards, apparently don’t want to befriend any of their neighbors. They seem to want a solitary life and if that’s what want they should have picked a different state. Instead of causing all this discontent with all the neighbors, move and sell the house to someone who appreciates the way of life in Maine.

Sarah Brown

Veazie

Tax CO2 emissions

The year 2014 had the highest global average temperature since modern records began in 1850. New indicators of climate change progression and impacts arrive on a regular basis. I don’t know about everyone else, but it’s hard to find time in my schedule to be responsible for the Earth’s climate.

Fortunately there are things we can do to help dig our way out of this mess. The best one I know of is the revenue neutral carbon fee and dividend proposal by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. The lobby proposal calls for federal legislation to put a price on products commensurate with their contribution to CO2 emissions, and to refund all of the money collected directly back to the people. A major economic study found that two-thirds of people would get more money back in dividend rebates then they would spend in higher prices.

If it’s revenue neutral, then why bother? The prices of high-carbon products would begin to reflect their true costs to our future well-being, and the relative cost for low-carbon alternatives would become more immediately competitive. The carbon fee and dividend harnesses the power of the marketplace to slow climate change while avoiding political gridlock about government control. The proposal has been endorsed by noted climatologists, such as Dr. James Hansen, and economists across the political spectrum, including George Shultz, former secretary of the Treasury under President Richard Nixon and secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan.

Let our state and federal representatives and senators know that we want action to slow climate change.

Glen Koehler

Orono

Hillary for president?

Hillary Clinton was publicly humiliated by her husband former President Clinton and his erotic cigar. So being a humiliated wife and failed bureaucrat is the credential for becoming president?

She conducted official United States business via email on her private server, emails that were property of the U.S. — you and I, who were her employers. Imperiously, she destroyed our property. Maybe those erased emails weren’t important. Now we won’t ever really know.

Which brings us to former President Richard Nixon. “I’m not a crook”, he said. In the end, he really, really was. Almost impeached, he resigned and avoided jail.

Watch Hillary Clinton carefully, shape-shifting, chameleon-like Hillary. She’s got all the slickness of “Willy” and the moves of “Tricky Dicky.”

It would be a shame if Hillary Clinton were elected and we hired her to serve as president of the United States.

Roger M. Woodbury

Morrill