Letters, Nov. 29

Nov 29, 2012

No disrespect to fire fighters

The other day I was at the Searsport market and I overheard an unfamiliar voice saying that the people that don't want the mega tank in our town are "disrespecting" the local Fire Department and then she went on about how unfair that was.

The more I thought about what she was implying, the more I realized how wrong she was. We are saying that our local departments are not prepared to handle an industrial scale accident, and they would be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the disaster. New York City was not ready for 9-11 and they had hundreds of the best firefighters in the country. As if by saying our dept is incapable of handling what the tank could hand out, we are somehow implying our local fire dept is incompetent is nonsense.

Such a statement is divisive and designed not to be true, but to be inflammatory, and it is. I've never heard anyone complaining about our fire department's performance. No one questions their courage, their dedication, their abilities or their training. This issue is not about equipment or training or competence or any of that. You've heard the expression "size matters"?

The scope of an industrial scale accident would be massive. No amount of training or equipment would prepare us for the blow the tank could deliver. We are not slamming our local emergency responders, we are just asking asking people to give the issue some realistic thought before we commit. We don't have to let them in.

Think about the unintended consequences. Think about all the disasters we see in the news almost on a regular basis. They are always bigger than anyone predicted and worse than the one last week. No one is ever ready and they keep happening. Everyone is always shocked that it could happen to them. Did you hear about the earthquakes in the area? Did you see the people from Sandy on TV? This could be us, and if it happens the results will have nothing to do with our courage and competence, but more to do with which way the wind is blowing. As Clint would say, "Do you feel lucky punk?"

Harlan McLaughlin


Thankful for Maine farmers

Perhaps more than any other holiday, Thanksgiving places good food at the center of celebration. On such a day, we reflect on our many blessings: our health, happiness, family and friends. But we also give thanks for the good food on our table and the good earth that sustains us.

I've had the privilege to spend most of my professional life working with Maine farmers, the stewards of that good earth. Like many of you, I feast on Maine turkey, squash, potatoes, onions, cranberries, apples, cheese and more. I thank the farmers who grew or made these products. And I thank everyone who supports Maine's farmers, be it by shopping at the local farmers market or by contributing to the important work of Maine Farmland Trust.

You've heard from Maine Farmland Trust many times over the years, as we've stressed the challenges and opportunities facing farming in Maine. You've heard how farming here is well-positioned for the future, but only if we take the right steps now — to protect farmland, retain farm infrastructure, support existing farmers and recruit new ones. And, of course, you've heard all about our truly ambitious — but totally necessary — fund-raising campaign designed to protect 100,000 acres of farmland and support a thousand farmers, an effort which will cost millions of dollars.

But my message is much simpler. I simply want to share my appreciation for Maine's farmers and for all of you who care so deeply about farming. You are a big part of what Thanksgiving is all about. Thank you.

Wishing you a great day of reflection and celebration. As well as a day of great Maine food!

John Piotti


Macleod's says thanks

We at Macleod Furniture would like to express our sincere appreciation to our customers who have supported us these past few months. Though we faced some very difficult circumstances, your loyalty and patience have proven successful. We can assure you we are moving forward, and will continue to be a part of the community for years to come.

To those you who have not been in for whatever reason, the crew of Scott, April, Shawn, Sherry and Glen would like to welcome you back. Please stop in to visit and let us have an opportunity to make you feel part of our family. In appreciation of the community support, we are extending our Early Bird hours from 6 a.m. to noon on Saturday. We look forward to seeing you.

Scott Macleod


Wants rational tax policy

Now that the latest election cycle is finally over, after countless billions of dollars were spent manipulating the electorate, a true abyss awaits. So just how will those politicians dive in?

They make economics and government policies seem so complicated and poisonous. To  hear them tell it, it's either trickle-down (bad) or tax and spend (badder) or deficit-spending (worser) or something else (possibly even worser). But the truth is this: it's all just Keynesian-Reaganomics — the inevitable melding of demand-sided and supply-sided economics. It's all about each of those dollars spent and re-spent. Jobs, prosperity and much more.

Simply put, more comes out than what is put into the economy, and every dollar not invested or spent in some form of "consumption" (especially by the private sector) results in many more not being invested or spent by private-sector consumers. Simple as that. Take any money out of the economy, and you lose much, more more down the line. It's all about jobs.

Like politics, all economics is local. Tax dollars in and out affect local economics. That is why political centers tend to be economic powerhouses, but do so by sucking economic vitality from around them. Spending is moved from one local economy to another. Jobs, jobs, jobs.

Taxing investments and profits decreases future investments and business activity. Taxing the incomes of individuals and businesses decreases what they have to spend, also impacting future economic activity. Each dollar gained compounds positively by increasing economic vitality. But sending your money away hurts your local economy. Send it overseas and you hurt America. And vice versa. Bring foreign spending to America and we all benefit. Jobs, prosperity and much, much more.

Politicians love their powers to tax, because this is a potent economic magnet, drawing in vast amounts of money meant to influence those politicians and bureaucrats. Their local economies thrive. That's one reason the economies in the Washington beltway region have continued to run strong, while many other places floundered. Each dollar gained compounds positively, and those are your tax dollars, and you paid a very real price for feathering the nests of those government employees and their beneficiaries. Jobs...

Keynesian-Reagonomics doctrine is simple and picks no sides — no matter where you take money from, or put it, its consequences will compound. Taxes, fees and other government-imposed costs alter local economies to the benefit of the government and its interests — good or bad. Even borrowing has longer-term consequences, since it takes in money and then spends it, but must also then be paid back or else other very negative consequences occur.

Punishing either investment or spending is bad economic and fiscal policy, since when you kill the spending and investments driving the economy, you do even more damage to the tax base. So you must minimize that damage. The best way to do so is through simple, efficient low-rate tax policies plus cutting any government spending that kills economic vitality.

Start with a simple flat rate income tax equally applied to all forms of income — individual, business and corporate. Make the individual simple, yet also "progressive" by providing every adult taxpayer a large personal deduction based on the individual "poverty income," with no strings attached. Then, allow an additional cumulative deduction equal, in sum, to the individual deduction but requiring actual spending on allowed investments such as dedicated personal savings accounts for medical, retirement and educational expenses, for dependents and for primary home mortgage interest. After those are deducted, allow up to a 10 percent deduction against that net income for qualified charitable contributions, but nothing more. Very simple, progressive and fair.

Keep that tax at a low flat rate — never more than a 25 percent base rate, subject to small modifications by appropriate authority to address economic instabilities, positive or negative. And, to prevent political posturing and manipulation, establish the core tax policies via a constitutional amendment that also requires Congress to pass all tax legislation by a two-thirds majority in both houses. Force consensus.

This is a start to rational, stable tax policy from Washington, Do not believe, even for jsut a second, that politicians can do it on their own. Don't be stupid is as stupid does.

Randall Hofland

Maine State Prison


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