Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor July 5

Jul 05, 2018

Policy, not divisiveness

In a June 28 letter to the editor, John Shepard wrote that the articles presented weekly [by Another View] were divisive and meant to attack. I would like to assure Mr. Shepard that there is no cut-and-dried list of talking points and that our agenda is to consistently put forth conservative thought that builds our country up instead of tearing it down.

The temptation is to write a long diatribe once again pointing out that the articles written by Another View in the vast majority of cases focus on policy, not attacks. Yet, time and time again, there are those who attack us personally for the opinions that we put forth.

Let us not forget that coming together is not exactly what was meant by the following:

1. One year ago, Republicans were targeted by a shooter on a baseball field for no other reason than the fact that they were Republicans. Congressman Steve Scalise was nearly killed.

2. The Democratic candidate of president in the 2016 election referred to us common folk as "a basket of deplorables."

3. Former President Obama once referred to many of us as "..they get bitter, clinging to their guns or religion, with antipathy towards those who aren't like them..."

4. A former Maine representative who called for the killing of the president.

5. A so-called comedian performs with a decapitated head of the president.

6. The press secretary is not permitted to have a family dinner at a restaurant for no other reason than being in the employ of the president.

7. A prominent congresswoman from California shouts out to her supporters that they should hassle, protest and incite violence whenever they encounter those from the current administration in public.

The above is divisiveness that is non-stop. Coming together is not what is meant by making your political pitch to the black voter, the Hispanic voter, the LGBT voter, the pro-choice voter, and so on.

It baffles me why those who hurl vitriol towards conservatives cannot look in the mirror and see what they themselves are doing. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that when we look in a mirror we are actually seeing the reverse of what is there.

Dale E. Landrith Sr.


What is a shell-midden?

Three feet! I say again, 3 feet by the end of this century! This is the new alarming projection for sea-level rise reported to us by the evening news over the last few weeks. Wake up, people -- Al Gore has warned us ... twice! And scientists around the world, not influenced by politics and financial manipulation, all agree.

My interest (as a volunteer since 2001) has been to study prehistoric shell-middens, only a small number of some 2,000 existing along our often dangerous coastline. And they have been and still are disappearing at alarming rates. Over the last 10 years I have witnessed the aftermath of total destruction to at least six middens within the Cushing, Friendship and Waldoboro coastal floodplains. And there is no exemption for what I see ahead.

Shell-middens (sometimes called "kitchen middens") are the remains of two basic time periods: the Ceramic Period people (precursors to the Wabanaki tribes of today) and the Late Archaics. Dates on rare occasion may range as far back as 5,000 B.P. (before present), which may include the Red Paint People. But most remains are of the four Ceramic Period divisions, which terminated when European diseases wiped out upward of 90 percent of these coastal families during the late 1520s.

Shell-middens come in all shapes and sizes. But it is their content of bone, small pottery shards, charcoal, numerous lithic types and various shell types which have only begun to help us understand these cultures. Many questions still remain, including migration and trade routes, hunting traditions, winter survival, and the extent of social life and cultural beliefs. The testing of one charcoal sample costs $250 or more. And the testing and analysis of faunal/soil material within a lab just for one site would be in the hundreds of hours.

Protection? Unlike other states, none exists. And unlike research and protection of historic sites funded directly by state legislation, prehistoric field research performed by a handful of volunteers like me has no funding. Where are the “field schools?” Where are the mandates to retrieve vital, dateable faunal and charcoal remains? It baffles me, even with a 12,000-year History of Prehistoric Maine exhibition within our Maine State Museum, just how many people (even our own legislators) do not know or understand what shell-middens are, nor what they represent.

And what boundaries, besides the lack of money, do we face? Three: logistics and manpower, especially to offshore islands, potters who seem to believe valuable artifacts may still be found (rarely, and the damage they do is outrageous), and restricted access by landowners who have no valid reason other than their own personal ideals. One such site on the upper Medomak River is reported to contain at least 800 cubic meters of intact shell/soil matrix. This site has never been sampled. And a 1983 report states that a 115-meter (377-foot) wide erosion plain existed within the tidal margin below this midden.

I could think of several colorful adjectives one might apply to this mindset. Should we not demand some form of responsibility? Should not landowners be required to share these educational venues? Have we not learned any lessons from our past with knowledge that has been fragmented, obscured, altered or totally omitted?

I find it strange that when a bridge, culvert or road upgrade takes place at an inland stream crossover, it is a state mandate to have a licensed archaeologist on scene. Yet no such oversight exists for shell-midden degradation.

Coastal towns are facing two major types of erosion: a) wash-over from storm surge and b) undermining of glacial till from tidal turbulence. The second is the most damaging, as it involves subsurface whirlpools during flood tides skirting in and out of coves and rivers, gouging and undercutting shorelines. Site 17.66 on the west shore of the St. George River has totally disappeared from undermining during the winter of 2016-17 (estimated to have been 20M x 6M x 25cm). I found nothing but shell hash scattered across the shoreline during a spring inspection in 2017.

What are we going to do? I do not place blame on the hardworking department heads and former state lab techs (where I volunteer) dedicated to conserving former research. But it’s going to take money, manpower, and a research center dedicated to a 10- to 20-year project to collect this information — something I had proposed some 10 years ago. Perhaps, as so often happens, we will wait until it’s too late. And for many sites, it already is!

Let me know, folks, only 60 years to go. This is your state ...  and your history.

Alan G Button

Volunteer, Mid-Coast Shell-Midden Research

Support for Janet Mills

The Democrats have now nominated a highly competent woman as their candidate for governor of our state. Now is a good time to pause. I'm thinking of the percentage of men who have unresolved issues with their mothers, may have transferred this to their spouse, have trouble in dealing with a female boss at work, look askance at women in the pulpit. I'm thinking of those women as well who believe "what they say" of women as leaders.

The more liberal Democrats believe in nurture as a leading value, anyway. What of the more traditional Democrats? What of those women and men who long have had the habit of voting Republican, no matter what? Is there now cause to interrupt past habit or prejudice? Janet Mills is an intelligent, capable, knowledgeable, leader, well capable of governing. And she has a longstanding record of accomplishments. Indeed, the coming election in November will be a true test for the maturity of the Maine voter.

Please pause a few moments for self-reflection, now, before opinions become hardened into more tribal resolves. Can you vote for Maine's most qualified candidate for governor? I hope you will keep our mind open and generous and vote for Janet Mills.

Peter T. Richardson


Disagrees with Sutton mailer

Last week residents of House district 95 (Appleton, Hope, Warren and part of Union) received a legislative survey in the mail from Rep. Paula Sutton. The survey questions asked about gun control, criminalization of female genital mutilation, level of concern regarding the opiate crisis, penalizing municipalities that harbor illegal immigrants, home care funded by a tax on income over $128,400, and legislation that would require photo ID to vote. There was also a list of proposed bills that Rep. Sutton was disappointed to see die on the vine in the Legislature that would, in her words:

· criminalize the barbaric child abuse ritual of female genital mutilation (FGM),

· penalize municipalities that harbor illegal immigrants,

· mandate that employers only hire legal American citizens,

· require voters to present photo identification,

· make union membership voluntary,

· return academic standards to Maine schools,

· fix our broken referendum system.

The first three items on the bulleted list feed the current hysteria surrounding immigration. FGM is specifically forbidden by federal law and, if it happened in Maine, certainly laws that deal with child abuse, assault and battery, and gross sexual misconduct would be enough to deal with it. It is not likely to happen here; immigrants from those countries where it does take place did not emigrate for nothing. In case there is any question, “the barbaric child abuse ritual” is not integral to the Islamic faith, nor is it an exclusively Islamic phenomenon. All three items propose legislation that would be superfluous. Immigration need not be a problem, but a solution. Given Maine’s aging demographic and movement of young people out of state to greener pastures, immigrants may be able to help us out as we help them. Rep. Sutton’s immigration points have the issue backwards.

The fourth and seventh items are there to thwart the democratic process, one to make it harder for certain populations to vote and the other to silence the voices of citizens who are frustrated with lack of legislative progress. As for the remaining two items, is union membership really compulsory? You can find educational standards on the Maine Department of Education website under “learning results.” Read them and see if you can figure out what Rep. Sutton would like to tweak.

We have genuine problems to address, including health care, energy, infrastructure and expanding a skilled workforce. At least Rep. Sutton asked for feedback on the opiate crisis. Since she marches in lockstep with Gov. LePage, though, any solutions she comes up with are likely to be heavy on law enforcement and denial of Narcan. Her tenure in the Legislature has largely been a waste of time.

Harold Mosher


Taxes: not how much, but what for

In a recent Another View column, the author complained about being overtaxed and that we should expect more efficiency in governmental operations. While reviewing the faults of various types of taxes, he made the claim that a "minuscule minority of people" would ever receive Social Security and Medicare benefits equal to the payroll taxes they paid over their working lives. In fact, according to regular studies done by the Urban Institute, all but some of the most highly paid individuals will receive more — and often much more — in benefits from these programs than they "paid for" in taxes.

As for property, sales, fuel, excise and corporate income taxes, these revenues support basic services that benefit all Americans on a daily basis. These range from supporting the elderly, the poor and the disabled; to educating our children; to national defense; to public safety and paving the roads; to paying the interest on our growing national debt. The question, then, is not what do we pay in taxes, but what do we get for our taxes?

Although our overall tax burden is among the lowest within the community of developed countries, we should always be looking for ways to streamline government and to make it more responsive to public needs. However, pointing to fraud, waste and abuse in spending as the problem is a red herring. It distracts us from making the difficult decisions about what we expect from government and facing the obligation to pay for those choices.

Last December the president and the Congress decided to reduce taxes and increase spending. While this compromise bought enough votes to enact the legislation, it adds trillions of dollars to our national indebtedness. Think about that the next time a congressman or presidential candidate asks for your vote.

Steve Mansfield


Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jul 05, 2018 17:14

And speaking of taxes, how many Seniors have been forced to sell their homesteads because of the increased unaffordable taxes. This speaks of Camden many years ago when tax increases on homes were questioned by WWI Veterans and they were told to pay or sell and move on. And they did move on. Now the taxes on property has quadrupled and Seniors find retirement a hardship. Where does it end? Seniors save for retirement only to find the dollar they saved is not worthy in todays fiscal exchange.

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