Stop union busting
I’ve been hearing about a possible National Football League players strike. Why do sports team members have unions, and what are they crying about? They make a more-than-decent living, unlike the rest of American workers busting their butts (without raises, perks and other incentives) to pay for gas, oil, food, clothing and shelter. Are football players hurting so badly they can’t pay for these staples?
The attempts at union busting are appalling and disgusting. Why are union members fighting to keep their unions intact? Because they know it is the only way they will receive their piece of the American pie. What do workers without unions have? They have “minimum wages,” two pathetic words. State workers, teachers and nurses in Maine are fighting for their unions. Instead of busting unions, all American workers deserve decent salaries and profit sharing.
But I forgot. Capitalism is not a sharing, caring or “fairing” system, especially when Republicans are in charge. Why do Republicans hate American workers? Why does the Republican governor of Wisconsin hate state workers?
Vilifying hardworking state workers, nurses and teachers is un-American. This social unfairness, causing an us vs. them mentality, must be investigated by our federal attorney general. The bullying of the American workers by Constitutionalists, Libertarians and the Republican Party and its offshoot the tea party must stop.
If sports teams demand unions, so must the American people. The priorities are all screwed up.
Save arts funding
The U.S. House of Representatives is on track to cut $43 million from the National Endowment for the Arts budget of $167 million. That’s a 26 percent cut — the deepest in 16 years.
Our senators should prevent these deep cuts from happening when they take up this legislation at the end of this month.
The arts mean jobs. According to Americans for the Arts, the nonprofit arts industry generates $166 billion annually in economic activity, supports 5.7 million full-time equivalent jobs in the arts and related industries and returns $12.6 billion in federal income taxes.
Measured against direct federal cultural spending of about $1.4 billion, that’s a return of nearly nine to one.
Federal funding for the arts leverages private funding. The NEA requires at least a one-to-one match of federal funds from all grant recipients — a match far exceeded by most grantees. On average, each NEA grant [dollar] leverages at least $7 from other state, local, and private sources.
Private support cannot match the leveraging role of government cultural funding.
MPA kills team spirit
Much more goes into winning state championships than fast swimming and skillful diving. Competitive swimming often is considered an individual sport because when you compete, you compete alone; when you win, it seems you win for yourself. But no swim team member would accept these assumptions.
After four years on the Bangor High School swim team — three years as state champions — and two years on the University of Maine swim team, I can attest that swimming is a team sport; every member, whether competing or not, is essential to the team’s success.
For months, teammates work together toward a common goal and become family. Competitors at state championship meets need the support of every teammate. It’s their faces you look for at the end of your lane.
I was distressed to learn that the Maine Principals’ Association had excluded noncompeting teammates from state meets. Barring teammates from state meets deprives the team of essential supporters and divides teams into first- and second-class citizens. All teammates work hard all season and earn the right to support the team.
We won our state championships because we were a team; everyone contributed to our victories. When you compete, you may compete alone; but when you win, you win for your team.
The MPA may have reasons for limiting attendance at state meets but barring teammates hurts every member of every team. There must be a better way. I urge the MPA to overturn this ruling. Don’t divide our swim teams.
The shocking truth
Thank you for the Feb. 21 editorial, “It’s Complicated,” reminding readers we support dictators. Let’s not forget elected governments we overthrew and replaced by dictatorships.
First, Mossadegh, Iran, 1953. Offense: nationalizing Iran’s oil. We installed the shah and the fearsome Savak.
Second, Arbenz, Guatemala, 1954. Offense: nationalizing United Fruit, paying the “laughable” sum United Fruit claimed for tax purposes.
Sukarno, 1965, Indonesia (world’s largest Muslim nation), leader of nonaligned movement. Loss of life estimated between 300,000 and 3 million; imposition of vicious dictator Suharto.
Sept. 11, 1973, CIA-planned coup in Chile. Democratically elected Allende replaced by Pinochet, introducing South America’s Operation Condor, military regimes responsible for slaughtering many thousands in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay. 9-11 for much of the world means something other than it does for us.
Haiti. We twice threw out popular and democratically elected President Aristide.
I grew up in a country that was admired by the whole world. Mossadegh was for me, as for the world, a rude shock. It is not too late for us to regain that position of respect we once enjoyed. We could start by closing the more than 800 bases we maintain throughout the world; stop invading other countries; take our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan; stop extraordinary renditions and torture.
Then we could afford to repair bridges, educate our children, regain our position as world leader in health, height, longevity, infant mortality, literacy, etc., categories in which our stats now resemble those of developing countries not industrialized nations.