King’s ‘concern’ for the poor

In his June 23 BDN OpEd about how to fix anti-poverty programs, Sen. Angus King writes that he “administered many of the programs that support low-income Mainers.” But King vetoed at least two increases in the minimum wage, when increasing the minimum wage is by far the single most important thing one could do for low-income Mainers.

King goes on to hail the movement of large numbers of people off welfare rolls, a process he euphemistically calls “reform.” King attributes this wondrous reduction in welfare rolls to the “strong economy and low unemployment of the 1990s.” What he conveniently leaves out is that the reduction also was achieved by limiting welfare to five years, after which impoverished mothers of real live children are simply shoved off the rolls and left to their own devices. So much for King’s deep concern for poor people.

Ralph Grimes

Stockton Springs

Make Maine towns age friendly

In his June 23 BDN article about Maine’s population shedding 20-somethings, Darren Fishell offers an excellent explanation of the effect of the changing structure of our population — and the effect of the double whammy of residents getting older and younger people leaving the state.

But it isn’t all bad news. Older Mainers contribute significantly to the well-being of their family, community and Maine’s economy. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, older adults contribute 52 percent more to consumer spending than their younger peers.

An aging population creates challenges and opportunities for the state and for individual towns and cities. The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities offers technical advice and tools to help local leaders implement age-friendly changes that will make their community an even better place for residents of all ages to work, live and play.

Age-friendly changes do not have to be a drain on municipal budgets. Most communities that have joined the network make low-cost and no-cost changes that have a huge impact on residents of all ages. Some examples have been creating a page on the town website with information about local and regional services of special interest to older people and their families, moving a library book return box from the top of the stairs to street level and partnering with Habitat for Humanity to raise awareness of a program to make the homes of older residents safer and more accessible.

Patricia Oh


LePage junk food ban right

I don’t agree with Gov. Paul LePage on many issues, yet I applaud his efforts to stop SNAP beneficiaries from using that program to buy sugar-filled food and food that is not nutritious.

The argument can be made that citizens, regardless of income level, have a right to decide their diet. When we speak of children, however, there is no question that they need some guidance about what they should eat. Such is not an effort at “nanny state” governing, any more than is a ruling not to starve children. It is a perfectly reasonable function of regulations to promote health.

All parents want to make their children happy, and sugary foods are, by their very nature, satisfying; too much sugar, though, causes so many health problems, short term and long term, that parents simply need to be reminded. It might be nice to say SNAP could be used to buy sugary foods for adults who want the choice to screw up their health, not their kids’ health. The program cannot be run that way. Cutting off sugary foods to adults, too, for an added health benefit, is just an extra.

Soda and candy companies and other producers of sugary foods will fight such efforts, and they will lobby the U.S. Department of Agriculture not to allow such moves. They are in the business of making money, not making people healthy. Government must stand up for citizens’ welfare, not only for financial reasons but for the happiness of the population.

Steve Colhoun


Fulford for state Senate

Republican Sen. Mike Thibodeau has come a long way. He no longer speaks out against marriage equality. He no longer advises people to estimate they will work more in order to qualify for an Obamacare subsidy, which could be illegal if it’s a deliberately false estimate. He even voted for a solar energy bill after trying to kill it. Residents of Waldo County can be proud of dragging a reluctant Thibodeau at least part way into the 21st century.

But Waldo County needs a leader like Jonathan Fulford, who has an unwavering commitment to addressing climate change. Someone who thinks proactively about tough questions, like how can we make Maine energy independent and protect the environment while supporting local industries. Someone who favored marriage equality long before it was cool.

And we need a leader who can listen. Fulford listens to more voters than almost any candidate of any party in Maine. If someone lives in Waldo County, chances are he’s knocked on his or her door, because he wants to know what residents want him to do, not what the money in Augusta — and beyond — wants to him do.

The choice is simple: One candidate is dragging his feet, and the other stands as a beacon, pointing the way to the future, for us and for our children.

Greg Bates


NRA stymies gun control

The National Rifle Association contributes lots of money to congressional Republicans, from $2,500 to Sen. Rand Paul to $7,740,221 to Sen. John McCain. According to the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the NRA has contributed to 50 Republican senators over the course of their careers more than $36 million.

And we wonder why no reasonable legislation for effective gun control can be agreed upon. The NRA effectively controls the Senate when it comes to gun control legislation. It’s time for a change. Otherwise, more Americans are going to lose their lives.

Richard Barclay


LePage goes against people’s will

Why would anyone want Gov. Paul LePage to represent the people of this state at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland? Most of us are ashamed of his antics and raving.

“I’m disappointed that they’re so arrogant that they’re going against the will of people,” LePage told Howie Carr after supporters of Ted Cruz tried to storm the state convention. Why not? LePage goes against the will of the people every day.

Charlotte Lowell