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June 10, 2009 Letters to the Editor

New vision on trade

If you add up everyone represented by the 21 Trade Adjustment Assistance petitions filed on May 18, it totals 1,139 laid-off workers. Mal Leary’s recent story in the BDN did a good job of describing the current situation with TAA, but failed to address the root cause: unfair trade policy.

TAA provides benefits to workers who have been laid off because either their jobs have gone overseas, because imports of the products they make have increased and put them out of work, or because the work they do was directly tied to trade related layoffs. These are all results of failed policies like the North American Free Trade Agreement.

These workers include those I represent with the International Association of Machinists at Formtek in Clinton and Domtar in Baileyville. They submitted the petitions because they need TAA to make it through this rough time.

The real fix, however, is to stop passing rigged trade policies that only benefit big multi-national corporations at the expense of everyone else, especially workers here in Maine.

Rep. Mike Michaud is the fair trade leader in the House of Representatives. He is sponsoring a bill, The TRADE Act, that would change the way trade policy works. It would put us on a path to recovery, so more workers don’t have to apply for TAA in the future.

I hope Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins will sign on as co-sponsors to this much-needed bill. It’s time for a new vision for trade.

David Lowell



Teacher wisdom

I started teaching in 1967 and retired in 2004. I can’t remember a time since when there hasn’t been one kind of educational reform or another. I have come to the conclusion that after this period of reform everything that can be reformed has been reformed and that only one thing remains. This one thing is succinctly contained in three proverbs:

“When the student is ready, the Master appears.” (Buddhist proverb.)

“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.” (Chinese proverb.)

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” (Western proverb.)

Michael J. Drake



Green manufacturing

As an employee of a manufacturing plant that uses energy to make its product, I’ve always been torn between keeping my job viable or making the air and water cleaner for my daughter. Now in the U.S. House of Representatives is a bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, which will build a new green economy and provide assistance to domestic energy-intensive manufacturing plants, such as paper mills, as they transition to cleaner energy.

Provisions of this bill will prevent leakage of American jobs to countries with weak or nonexistent environmental standards. It also has a renewable energy standard that will create jobs and keep good manufacturing jobs that will supply the parts for good clean energy technology such as solar, wind and tidal.

I ask our senators to support this bill so that we can build a green economy that creates good jobs, reduces global warming and, more importantly, moves America toward energy independence.

Emery Deabay



On helmets, menus

Dr. Erik Steele’s essay, “As ye waste, so shall ye want (care)” (BDN, June 2) regarding the inanity of the Legislature’s failure to pass a motorcycle helmet law was dead-on correct. While the guise of saying “no” to helmets purportedly represents preservation of individual freedom, such an attitude is one of foolishness and selfishness on the part of those who either ride bareheaded or support the right to do so.

The costs in lives, injuries and health dollars that could be directed elsewhere to better benefit the public, as presented by Dr. Steele, are real. I have avid motorcyclist friends who would never think of riding without a helmet, or for that matter of doing without appropriate clothing and footwear for safety proposes. Even baseball, at all amateur and professional levels, requires players to wear helmets when batting for obvious safety reasons. Are votes favoring enactment of a motorcycle helmet law really the “third rail” of Maine politics?

Now I see Maine’s lawmakers, and perhaps the governor, are in favor of legislation to permit and regulate martial arts fights in the state. Just what Maine needs, legalized barroom brawling. Ah, but it may constitute a source of revenue enhancement. At the same time, the House has approved a menu-labeling measure to save us all from the effects of caloric overindulgence and unhealthful food choices when dining out. Do folks really believe that will have a significant public health impact? I think many of our representatives in Augusta have got it backward.

G. Lansing Blackshaw



Put marriage to vote

The main job of government is to promote rights and protect the general welfare. The Declaration of Independence says, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ….” The legislation concerning same-sex marriage should be put to question on a statewide ballot through the citizen’s initiative process.

Marriage is an institution recognized by every government and central to every society. Maine’s marriage statute matters to all people. Title 19-A reads, “The union of one man and one woman joined in traditional monogamous marriage is of inestimable value to society; the State has a compelling interest to nurture and promote the unique institution .…”

The same-sex marriage issue is an excellent issue for Mainers to take leadership on because we have the privilege of being one of 24 states with a citizen’s initiative. Instead of having our 188 elected officials determine Maine’s values, we should let the people advocate our direction.

The Roe v. Wade dissent states that the “rights of the people are not unqualified and must be considered against important state interests in regulation … where certain fundamental rights are involved … limiting these rights may be justified only by a compelling state interest” (Justice Blackmun). It is the state’s job to make decisions in the best interest of people and it is the people’s job to ensure that our leaders do that. When they don’t, it is our job to challenge their mistakes. Sign the petition to put the question to a statewide ballot.

Hannah Welch

Bar Harbor

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