Entries Filed in 'Editorials'

What poverty looks like in Maine

January 27th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Editorials, Public Safety

By Robyn Merrill, a senior policy analyst at Maine Equal Justice Partners, a nonprofit legal aid organization that works to find solutions to poverty.

An increasing number of Maine children are growing up poor.Yet Gov. Paul LePage has offered no solutions to this ever-increasing problem.

Over the course of his administration, the number of homeless children in our state has grown, drastically increasing between 2010 and 2012.

While homelessness is going down nationally, in Maine it’s going up, driven by misguided policies in the guise of “reform.”

And according to the annual Kids Count report, nearly one in four children younger than five in Maine is growing up in poverty.

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With close to 3,500 Mainers going without unemployment since Jan 1 there should be outrage

January 16th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Economy, Editorials

Close to 3,500 people in Maine have gone without an unemployment check since January 1st. Imagine how hard that is for families, communities and kids. These are people who were working hard and by no fault of their own found themselves out of work. That’s why the federal government created unemployment. Congress used to understand a helping hand doesn’t mean a hand out. It means help. Under Bush this was a non issue and unemployment extensions happened without question.

Every paper should put this story on the front page, counting the days it is taking Congress to take appropriate action to help our people and our economy by authorizing these unemployment checks.

Write letters to the editor and let Congress know you stand with the people.

The following is a piece in the New York Times explaining more.

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Maine’s creative economy moves the state forward, but it’s time for government help

January 5th, 2014 · 1 Comment · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Creative Economy, Economy, Editorials, Issue 39, Taxes

income gapResearch and Development (R&D) funds from state and the federal government have fueled innovation and inventions for decades, making America’s economy grow. R&D has kept us on the cutting edge of industry changes and medical breakthroughs. If it weren’t for federal grants the Internet would still be a concept. From new medicines to computer technologies “we the people” have had a hand, through our taxes, in helping businesses that use these innovations across the country get off the ground. Some of these businesses now make billions. So, why not ask these businesses to help invest into new innovations that have been waiting for grants. Seems it would only be fair if they gave more in taxes to help fuel our economy in this way.

There’s no doubt about it America’s economy is improving; it has been since President Barack Obama’s stimulus package took hold. That Recovery Act fueled needed areas in our economy by keeping first responders, and teachers employed while investing in R&D to grow innovative jobs.

1517623_10152173300654238_1036289131_nHere in Maine broadband IT technology is beginning to transform rural parts of Maine that are far from metropolitan hubs. What started on a small scale, with Governor John E. Baldacci’s ConnectME initiative, Maine now hosts some of the best broadband connections in the country, yet more needs to be done. And projects funded by innovation grants at the University of Maine show the promises of industries that will employ thousands of workers in the years to come.

While there is definitely a deficit of trained workers for job openings in IT and other innovation jobs, that problem is starting to be addressed by lawmakers in Augusta, who in a bipartisan effort formed a committee that has visited all areas of the state to listen to the community. They passed some laws based on their findings and are working on others.

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We can still accept the federal government’s offer for health-care coverage for 70,000 Mainers

January 5th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine, Editorials, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles, Issue 39

As of January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been insuring over 2 million Americans. But over 70,000 Mainers, including 3,000 veterans in Maine, have been denied health insurance because Governor Paul LePage refused to accept federal funding for MaineCare from the ACA.

At no cost to Maine taxpayers, the state could have accepted the federal government’s offer to expand MaineCare health insurance for these people. Under the deal, with the first three years of the ACA the federal government would pay 100 percent of the costs of the MaineCare expansion. That’s three years. Then the state would have to pitch in, at the most just 10 percent of the cost. By anybody’s book that’s a good deal. With healthier workers, productivity increases and so do people’s outlook.

Most importantly lives would be saved, and businesses would grow.

Accepting federal funds would create and save 4,100 jobs in Maine, according to the Maine Center on Economic Policy.

Analyses by the Kaiser Foundation and the conservative Heritage Foundation show Maine could save $690 million over the next decade from Medicaid expansion. Maine is one of ten states that will see Medicaid expenditures go down over ten years.

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Why a helping hand from the government helps our economy

January 5th, 2014 · No Comments · Editorials, Issue 39

If we didn’t have government programs aimed to help reduce poverty by providing assistance to low-income Americans, the actual poverty rate in the United States would be nearly twice as high as it is today.

It’s inexcusable that the rate is currently at 15 percent. This is a generational high has a lot to do with Republicans in Congress, and in states like Maine, who have extreme Republican governors, who have cut back on these economically beneficial programs. Yes economically beneficial. It is far better to lend a helping hand to those in need than to let them become homeless and ill.

The vast majority of those who accept assistance from state and/or federal programs are people who had a bad turn in life and just need society believing in and supporting them temporarily. They don’t want to have to live off the State; they are forced to because they need the essentials. Franklin D. Roosevelt, with the aid of Frances Perkins, understood this, and his New Deal became a beacon of hope for millions in this country. Social Security is a part of our national security.

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What happens to people critically ill without the ACA in Maine?

January 5th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Editorials, Health Care, Issue 39

by State Senator John Patrick of Rumford

We are just a few days into 2014. For many of us, ringing in a new year is the marker of new beginnings. Often, we make new year’s resolutions that include a pledge to be healthier. For many, we are fortunate: accessing health care and getting our medical needs tended to is not met with obstacles and challenges. But, for the tens of thousands of Mainers who don’t have health insurance and can’t afford the out-of-pocket expense of going to the doctor, getting basic health care is often saved just for emergencies.

When folks can’t get the care they need, more serious health problems often arise and the quality, and sometimes even the length of their life, is diminished. For 3,000 veterans and tens of thousands of other Mainers, New Year’s Day was not likely a day for celebration. It was the day they lost their existing MaineCare health insurance.

What is going to happen to those folks who are in the middle of treatment for cancer or diabetes? What about those who have a heart condition? What choices do they now have?

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Cultural traditions important to non believers too

December 27th, 2013 · No Comments · Editorials

To move many away from religion, atheism has to weave itself into the social fabric and shed its image of dour grumpiness
By Suzanne Moore for New Humanist, part of the Guardian Comment Network
theguardian.com, Friday 27 December 2013

The last time I put my own atheism through the spin cycle rather than simply wiping it clean was when I wanted to make a ceremony after the birth of my third child. Would it be a blessing? From who? What does the common notion of a new baby as a gift mean? How would we make it meaningful to the people we invited who were from different faiths? And, importantly, what would it look like?

One of the problems I have with the New Atheism is that it fixates on ethics, ignoring aesthetics at its peril. It tends also towards atomisation, relying on abstracts such as “civic law” to conjure a collective experience. But I love ritual, because it is through ritual that we remake and strengthen our social bonds. As I write, down the road there is a memorial being held for Lou Reed, hosted by the local Unitarian church. Most people there will have no belief in God but will feel glad to be part of a shared appreciation of a man whose god was rock’n'roll.

When it came to making a ceremony, I really did not want the austerity of some humanist events I have attended, where I feel the sensual world is rejected. This is what I mean about aesthetics. Do we cede them to the religious and just look like a bunch of Calvinists? I found myself turning to flowers, flames and incense. Is there anything more beautiful than the offerings made all over the world, of tiny flames and blossom on leaves floating on water?

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Neil Rolde: Russia Revivified

December 23rd, 2013 · 3 Comments · Editorials, Guest Columns, Neil Rolde, World News

The recent upheavals in the Ukraine have shown a new squirt of Russian imperialism at work in Eastern Europe. History has revealed a number of Russian expansions and subsequent contractions of its territory and spheres of influence. The most recent of these, of course, is the rise and fall of the Soviet Union.

During the period of the Brezhnev ascendancy and just prior to the USSR collapse and just afterward, I went on three separate trips behind the Iron Curtain. All three visits – in 1977, 1989 and 1992 – traversed this 20th century period of Russia’s traditional patterns.

When in the late 1977’s, I toured with my wife and youngest daughter Danielle, then five years old, through the Soviet Empire, we did a circuit of the mostly non-Russian parts of that gigantic entity. My secret intent was to see what was happening in the countries that the Russians had forcibly incorporated into Stalin’s behemoth of a Communist state. So in addition to the core Russian component, we spent time in the Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Armenia and Latvia. It should be understood that all of these and other “Republics” were run from Moscow by puppet governments, totally subservient to the Kremlin. In addition, former independent countries like Poland, Czechoslovakia, Rumania and Bulgaria, had also been brought in under the Russian thumb.

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Time to invest in innovation in Maine

September 27th, 2013 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Community Maine, Creative Economy, Economy, Editorials, Energy Issues, Issue 38

The Maine State Capitol, photo by Ramona du Houx

While Governor LePage’s veto power controlled Republican votes in Augusta communities across the state continued to move forward with innovative plans.

Being innovative requires thinking outside the box to come up with creative solutions and ideas. It’s all about doing things better and creating things of value. It relies upon resourcefulness, integrity, ingenuity and persistence— intrinsically strong Maine traits. The Portland Public Market House is a great example of innovation in progress as the community-gathering place has been incubating new small businesses while expanding Maine’s quality of life. And Waterville’s innovative film festival, (MIFF) brings thousands of people together giving businesses a boost.

Innovation drives 80 percent of economic growth according to Nobel-Prize winning economist Robert Solow.

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Could we take back healthcare with a people’s referendum in Maine?

September 26th, 2013 · No Comments · Capitol news, Editorials, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles, Issue 38

Editorial by Ramona du Houx

Citizens in Maine have the unique ability to create laws outside of the Capitol with the referendum process. Over recent years, voters have weighed in and won referendums that have increased the affordability of a college education and given equality to gays and lesbians to marry. Voters have shown they know how to cut through political rhetoric and do what is right.

Maine’s democratic process has proven over and over again that the voice of the people counts.

The referendum process is also a safety valve when there is gridlock in Augusta. Like releasing a logjam to allow logs to flow down the river, the referendum releases the power of the people to vote on issues important to them. To insure the health and wellbeing of our neighbors, friends, families, and communities, Mainers sometimes need to take charge, in a democratic way, by using the referendum process.

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