Live and retire
I am writing in response to the June 14 BDN article, “Is Maine’s population too old and white to be sustainable?” While it is important to prepare for the possibility of labor shortages due to baby boomers retiring and decreased numbers of younger workers, there are workforce trends that aren’t acknowledged in the article.
For example, workers are staying in the workforce longer, both for financial reasons and due to healthier aging trends. Many retirees are choosing to return to work, either full- or part-time, for the same reasons.
Maine businesses that want to maintain long-term competitiveness will embrace a multi-generational workforce and develop policies and practices to attract, educate and retain an increasingly age-diverse workforce. It is also worth noting that about 7.4 million Americans aged 50 and older work for themselves, and people 50-64 are becoming entrepreneurs at rates greater than any other age group. Entrepreneurship is a critical part of Maine’s economy.
Clearly, the massive demographic shift has implications for every generation and will profoundly affect governments, businesses, individuals and communities. Research tells us that nine in 10 Americans hope to stay where they are as they get older.
The question is: Will their cities and communities be able to meet their needs as they age? At AARP Maine, we believe that the state deserves a broader conversation.
While the future may bring challenges, we also see great opportunity for cities and towns, nonprofits and businesses to build a rich, supportive infrastructure across our great state. By investing in housing, transportation and health, as well as entrepreneurism, we can ensure that Maine continues to be a wonderful place for people to live and retire, across all generations.
Lori Parham, state director, AARP Maine
Obstructing the expansion
Gov. Paul LePage and the Republican legislators who are obstructing the expansion of Medicaid present a clear case of rigid ideology overriding common sense. This is not about saving state money. The expansion is almost totally funded by federal money, so they are denying health insurance to thousands of Mainers and increasing the cost to Maine taxpayers at the same time. Everybody loses.
Utah’s Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, who opposes the Affordable Care Act, ordered an independent study of the 10-year cost of adopting Medicaid expansion. The report found that Medicaid expansion would not only cover thousands of low-income people of Utah but would also save the state millions of dollars in the form of lower costs for state and county aid and additional new state and county tax revenues, according to an article in the Deseret News. Expanding Medicaid will save money in Maine just as it will in Utah.
Accepting federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid saves state money because refusing to cover thousands of additional low-income citizens doesn’t mean that their health care costs will just go away. Since we don’t let people die at the hospital door, somebody has to pick up the tab.
Republicans should overcome their irrational hatred of the Affordable Care Act, look at the numbers and get out of the way of a logical decision that helps everybody.
Wind, energy and consumers
I recently had the opportunity and privilege to attend a meeting at the Airline Community School in Aurora for an industrial-scale wind project in Hancock County. The majority of individuals in attendance lent their support to the developer, First Wind. One by one, they stood up and explained how this project would benefit their business and create jobs.
Unfortunately, some basic laws of economics were ignored. The expansion of taxpayer-funded industrial wind projects in the state will lead to higher energy cost for consumers and a net job loss.
According to information at the meeting, the wind projects built and being built will receive subsidies, federal stimulus money, federal green energy grants and federally-guaranteed loans. Without the federal and state subsidies and grants, no project would be built. When the electricity is produced and sold to the grid, it is vastly more expensive than all other forms of energy being produced. This difference is made up in the form of subsidies, which guarantee the wind companies a certain price above the equilibrium price of efficiency.
These higher energy costs will eventually be passed on to the consumers. As the price of energy goes up, Maine companies will become less competitive in the global economy and will look to scale back costs. These cost cutting initiatives will manifest itself in the form of layoffs, wage deflation and companies relocating to tax-friendlier states.
BDN letter writer
Alberta Gamble, my grandmother, passed away recently. She was a long-time subscriber to the BDN and a devout Republican. She was a frequent letter writer. Her letters always centered around sharing her political beliefs with BDN readers.
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the paper for sharing her words of wisdom through the years. I wouldn’t be surprised if her thoughts were printed as often as some of the regular columnists.
I feel the U.S. by now should have a 25-hour work week. But selfish manufacturing interests try to stick to the 40-hour week, which we have had far too long.
Everybody benefits from a smaller work week except possibly landlords who would face lowering rents, which are too high to begin with. For one thing, by operating with two employees in one job slot, it is possible to work a seven-day week, getting maximum utilization of capital investment and fixed overhead.
Also, the large and expensive bureaucracy servicing the unemployed and public assistance could be much reduced or eliminated, reducing taxes.
The role of federal government should be to ensure a certain amount of labor shortage, such as 3 to 5 percent, by adjusting maximum working hours per week for each individual. Workers and their employees would face tax penalties for overtime.
Creative self-employed and skilled high-demand professionals would not be taxed. Basic economics would adjust other prices and values. I reason that without something like another world war or a large meteor, large unemployment is going to last in western countries since we are merely maintaining infrastructure and have too many countries now manufacturing the same things.