Here are a few thoughts about how basic arithmetic can shed a strange light on our perception of government versus free enterprise.

* If our government decided to raise a 1 percent tax on gasoline in order to help to reduce our national debt, we would be outraged at government intrusion in our lives. Yet, when oil companies raise gasoline prices by more than 10 percent within two months, we quietly pay it and don’t question it.

* Most of us senior citizens probably don’t know how much is deducted every month for Medicare from our Social Security checks for our 80 percent coverage. It is $99 for lower incomes, and somewhat more for higher incomes.

Every month, Cigna receives $327 for my 20 percent coverage, but when I checked Cigna’s statements, I realize that it doesn’t pay 20 percent of the actual bill, but only 20 percent of Medicare’s calculations.

The insurance company charges up to 13 times more than the federal government. What’s wrong with the federal government not to point out what a super cheap deal Medicare is?

* The other day a friend in Vermont complained about a $500-plus copayment for her medication. The total bill was $2,071.05 for 100 pills. I found the same drug for $189 on the Internet at canadadrugcenter.com.

My friend is a senior citizen, and I am asking myself how much of that bill was paid by the U.S. government, and why can’t our government negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry the same way foreign governments do?

In our town, there are many citizens on Mainecare with similar high drug bills. Why don’t we worry about these expenses instead of squeezing money from food stamp allotments?

Simple arithmetic could save us a lot of money.

Lore Ferguson, East Vassalboro

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