How do we fix this?
Renee Ordway’s Feb. 22 column about reading online comments illustrated the tragic degeneration of civility that has occurred these two past decades. Ever since politics sank to the shameful low of mean-spirited debate, if you can call it debate, it has accelerated.
A government that honors uncompromising standoffs sets a poor example for its citizens.
Add to that the ease and encouragement of expression through the Internet, anonymously, and by some who can barely spell the words they write. You get a nice stew of thoughtless, bloviating blowhards strutting their stuff just because they can.
I wonder if anyone predicted the degeneration of taste, civility, thoughtful dialogue and reasoned debate that came with the spread of the Internet? Or the inevitable mediocrity that has become fashionable because of these same influences?
The question is, how do we fix this? Can we fix this? What responsibility do parents, educators, pastors, government officials and all authority have to demand and display nonbullying, respectable, thoughtful, kind behavior to one another and in public forums where others learn behavior?
Whatever happened to the pursuit of excellence? Why do we admire mediocrity in public officials? Finally, is it possible that the liberal ethic of “tolerance” has backfired on us, and we now live among and tolerate revolting animosity and hateful behavior precisely because of that tolerance ethic?
How do we remain tolerant and kind while still demanding respectable behavior?
Enough is enough
All of the continuing expressions of misplaced fears about gun confiscation and perceived threats to the Bill of Rights continue to obscure the reality that America has a huge public health, gun safety and gun violence problem.
Already on a par with the now-reduced carnage on our highways, it will shortly result in a number of deaths annually exceeding those generated by vehicular mishaps.
I’m a gun owner, and I hope I’m not violating the Legislature’s impulsive and inadequately considered denial of public access to concealed weapons permits by publicly acknowledging that I have one.
But enough is enough, people.
More than 30,000 precious human beings each year dying from gun violence in America is simply unacceptable.
Just as we did with highway safety, by a combination of automobile and highway design, technological development and public education, America must take on a multifaceted and sustained effort to bring down the numbers of death and injuries coming from speeding bullets.
We must undertake the same kind of sustained, creative, reasonable and caring approach to gun safety and the reduction of gun violence as we did when we addressed highway safety.
The banner wasn’t automobile control but public health, safety and all the many measures that would support substantial progress in the desired direction. We must rouse ourselves and do the same to promote firearm safety and confront the scourge of gun violence.
Resolving budget issues
According to the Environmental Working Group’s farm subsidy database, from 2008 through 2011, the federal government gave almost $800 million in subsidies to the tobacco industry. In addition, according to the campaign Tobacco Free Kids, tobacco accounts for about $96 billion per year in health care costs.
Oil companies make quarterly profits in the billions of dollars, yet we continue to subsidize them through tax breaks and access to federal lands, costing Americans billions. Let the free market control both.
All earned income should be taxed equally. Our present system leaves the tax burden on the working class. The rich, such as Warren Buffet who pays an effective 17.4 percent tax rate, pay less because of loopholes for investments.
Those at the other end of the spectrum pay no tax on some of their income. A person on 100 percent disability can earn income per month, tax free, plus Social Security and only pay on the Social Security income.
A person who has worked 50 years and paid taxes to support those disabled, now in retirement, only has a Social Security income and is paying taxes on 100 percent of it.
Congress should be forced to allow only specific items to be placed in spending bills rather than “pork barrel” spending that allows for items to be placed in a bill just to get a vote for approval.
These are a few items that could be given serious consideration to resolve budget issues in Washington.
Goodbye old auditorium
I am a fourth generation Bangor man who grew up in Bangor during the 1950s and early 1960s when the Bangor Auditorium came about.
Favorite memories include eating at Miller’s Restaurant after the games and attending rock concerts in the 1970s.
What if author Stephen King, developer Tom Walsh and the Cianbro Corp. could have helped finance redeveloping the auditorium into a permanent basketball museum?
We all know this thought is just poppycock, but it’s a well-meaning thought.
Vote Travis Otis
On March 5, the residents of Searsport will have the privilege of voting for candidates and filling a seat on the town’s Board of Selectmen.
In Searsport, selectmen and a town manager oversee town water, sewage treatment, police patrol, fire protection, emergency medical service, public works, recreational programs and a library.
I urge the townspeople to review all candidates carefully and then vote for Travis Otis.
He is my friend, and I’ve had the opportunity to watch him work. I’ve also worked with him at his boat shop building boats, working on engines and on the bay tending his string of lobster traps and racing his lobster boat, “First Team.”
Otis is a perfectionist, and it shows in his work. He demands the best of himself and others, sets high standards and never leaves a job half done. Otis will bring these same standards and skills to the Board of Selectmen.
A lifetime resident of Searsport, he knows what the town needs to grow into the 21st century.
He speaks his mind but listens to others, using input to form opinions. He comes to this job with an open mind, a vision for tomorrow and a desire to give back to the town he grew up in.
Join me in voting for Otis, who will steer a clear course to our future.