No more nuclear weapons

Seventy-two years ago, the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on two major Japanese cities, creating devastation and grief, sudden and slow deaths as well as fatal illnesses that developed years afterward. Today, many of the 15,000 nuclear weapons around the world have greater explosive yields than the bombs that decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Leaders in the U.S. and other nations are implicitly trusted to safeguard us against nuclear devastation, and yet we often hear of elected officials who urge nuclear attacks. Any nation’s use is likely to set off retaliatory strikes. Such radiation is not containable. We can expect it to affect everyone.

Our presidents vie to outdo one another in updating and increasing our nuclear arsenal. This investment in nuclear arms triggers similar ambitions among other national leaders, all in the name of security.

An instantaneous end to all life on Earth is not the likely consequence of nuclear war. Rather, we can anticipate terrible trauma, pain, starvation, illness, mutations and early death in the surviving human and animal populations.

Our president need consult no one before launching nuclear weapons. Such a decision would immediately result in retaliatory strikes. No one knows whether protective systems in place would actually function as needed under these circumstances. A world nuclear war is at least as likely.

Compassion for ourselves, other human and all animals on our planet compels us to demand the elimination of nuclear weaponry around the world. The U.S. could offer leadership in ending the threat of nuclear holocaust, rather than in increasing its imminence.

Steve Benson

Blue Hill

Obamacare not affordable

AARP says it speaks for everyone over 50 in giving thanks to Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins for saving the Affordable Care Act. I am 56, and I say no thank you.

Before the Affordable Care Act my health insurance for my wife and me cost $8,600 annually with a $3,500 deductible. Now it cost $17,800 annually with a $10,000 deductible through the marketplace. It’s being forecasted to raise 39.7 percent in 2018 to $24,800 annually, which at that point will be completely unaffordable.

I realize I need to pay more for insurance as I age. All other insurance such as auto, life, business and home are calculated on risk. I don’t expect our youth to pick up my insurance costs, they have their hands full with student loans at entry-level pay and young families to raise.

I believe with the help of AARP the baby-boomer era will be known as the most selfish era of all time. I would rather take my chances in the free market than have AARP, King and Collins tell me what is best for me. I think the best thing politicians can do is go back before the Affordable Care Act for decades to see what regulations caused health care to become so expensive.

Andy McGlinn

Presque Isle

Implement ranked-choice voting

In the coming months the Legislature will again consider the ranked-choice voting law passed by referendum last fall. There are some misunderstandings about this issue.

First, the court never said that the entire law is unconstitutional. Only three of the 10 races in the law were deemed problematic. The five primary elections and general elections for U.S. House and Senate are not affected.

The other misconception is that by keeping ranked-choice voting for these seven races we would suddenly then have two types of ballots, which would be “confusing.” Not true because there would be two types of ballots anyway because ranked-choice voting, as approved by the people, does not include local and presidential elections. And ranked-choice voting is simple.

In Portland and many other places around the country and the world, it is used for some elections alongside traditional ballots that are used for others, and people have no problems at all with this. Ranked-choice voting is an easy non-partisan election reform that gives voters more choice and more voice, and it brings us election results much closer to the actual will of the voters.

Please urge your legislators to support the will of Maine voters and maintain ranked-choice voting for the seven elections not affected by the court opinion. Urge them to implement it for 2018 and to also support a change to the Maine Constitution that would solve that matter.

Ron Bilancia