Letters

Proposed tax for bottling Maine water sparks controversy

Regarding the Dec. 14 article, "In selling Maine's fresh waters, does Maine get a cut?": The current water tax initiative, "Maine's Water Dividend Trust," needs clarification. Inaccurate claims and scare tactics have skewed the issue. An industry whose existence relies on a continuing supply of clean, plentiful water will not "suck the well dry."

What about other businesses that utilize fresh water resources (manufacturing, retail, hospitality)? Why target a single industry, one that uses a fraction of the total water used? The tax would primarily affect Poland Spring Bottling.

Poland Spring, however, uses less than 0.2 percent of all the fresh water used in Maine. It spends millions yearly to monitor and protect the health of the water sources and surrounding areas. It is a safe, nonpolluting company providing high-paying, needed manufacturing jobs.

According to the tax initiative's website, the funds are not wholly earmarked for the conservation of fresh water. No more than 10 percent of funds will be used for this.

If this water tax is approved as proposed, there could be 600 jobs at stake, as Poland Spring would have to reevaluate its ability to do business here. Maine can't afford to lose more employment opportunities.
Deborah Danforth
Employee, Poland Spring Bottling
Auburn, Maine

As a lifelong resident of Maine, I am all for having one of the world's largest corporations pay a little tax on our clean water.

Given a choice between $100 million in tax money or the loss of 600 jobs, it's a no- brainer. In Maine, we could all use the money.

Twenty cents a gallon in tax for something that sells for $1.50 on the shelf is fair. It's time to level the playing ground. Regarding the possibility that the company will leave: I think Maine was doing just fine before Poland Spring came to town.

I think we all just want what is fair. The average Alaskan receives about $1,500 a year in oil revenues for their natural resource. That kind of payment would sure help a lot of struggling Maine families.
Peter J. Bishop
Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Kids need to learn - and play, too

The Dec. 8 article, "Einsteins at five" laid out two different philosophies of what today's kindergarten classes should be teaching our children: how to tie shoes or sentence deconstruction. My question is this: Why does it have to be either-or; why can't kids be taught both?

As the article pointed out, research has shown that the early years are the learning years. Further, Harvard researcher Connie Juel has found that a child who is a poor reader at the end of first grade has nearly a 90 percent chance of remaining a poor reader by the fourth grade and beyond. So solid instruction in the first years of school is important.

That doesn't mean instruction has to be painful or boring for the children. Anyone who has ever interacted with five-year-olds knows they love to play and learn. Wouldn't it make sense to combine the two? If children are taught to read or to write in kindergarten using things they enjoy and understand, such as games or songs, suddenly learning is fun. Failure and frustration disappear when children learn in ways that are fun and exciting to them.

Let's give our children the credit they deserve and teach them how to tie their shoes, as well as how to study academic rtopics. They can handle it!
Karl Androes
Executive Director, Reading In Motion
Chicago

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to Letters.

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