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Wednesday November 13, 2013: Worker safety, college education, Susan Dench


Moral decline

While I’m glad that Susan Dench takes the time out of her efforts to “bring out the best in [her] man” to publish a column (something she wouldn’t have been able to do in the “traditional world” she holds in such high esteem), I can’t help but feel she could benefit from some additional research into feminism. Perhaps then she would have been able to express a more developed argument than the series of trite, antiquated criticisms of second wave feminism she presented in the Oct. 30 BDN.

As far as I can see, her column operates under two flawed assumptions. Chiefly, she betrays her lack of understanding of the aims of feminism with her belief that feminists work only to subvert the rights of men. While I can’t deny feminism is an effort to abolish men’s dominion over women, a large part of modern day feminism is the movement to repeal gender norms that are harmful to both sexes. Men have long been oppressed by pre-war ideals of masculinity that have been at odds with the reality of modernity and its “emasculations” (layoffs, women in the workplace, etc.). In its attempt to cast off the constraints of gender norms, feminism offers an escape for men from their burden, as well.

Secondly, she espouses a universal gold standard of the nuclear family and the old trope of slut-shaming. When will people like Dench accept that there may be a deeper-rooted flaw in marriage than moral decline?

Alex Foley


News placement

Putting President Barack Obama’s alleged and unacceptable “apology” to the American people on page A3 under news briefs shows just how far the BDN has fallen in recent years. I dare say that if former President George W. Bush had apologized, it would have been a page 1 story with reference to why it would be unacceptable.

John Hubbard


Improving worker safety

I categorically reject the Nov. 4 BDN OpEd piece by labor activist Kalpona Akter, which unfairly characterized and prematurely judged the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety program. She completely ignored the substantial efforts underway to address fire and structural safety in Bangladesh garment factories.

We agree that the recent tragedies are heart wrenching, and the fire and building safety record has been unacceptable. We agree that the business community needs to work together with the Bangladeshi worker to improve conditions in factories. That is exactly why the foundational principles of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety are transparency and worker empowerment.

This initiative was created so that the public can track our progress and hold us accountable. These efforts are legally binding among our members and contain worker empowerment measures to ensure workers have a voice.

These measures were guided and insisted upon by former Sens. George Mitchell and Olympia Snowe. Both were engaged in the development of the initiative because they are leaders of substance and integrity, which is evident in the details of the plan.

We have made a tremendous amount of progress. Member companies have committed to over $100 million in access to capital to ensure factory workers have the funds they need to make improvements. We are on track to inspect all Alliance factories within one year. However, we also believe all partners must work together, including the government of Bangladesh, to ensure that workers have a safer environment and a voice in those improvements. We are committed to substantially improving worker safety and doing so in a clear and transparent manner.

Hon. Ellen O. Tauscher

Former member of Congress

Chairman of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety

Washington, D.C.

Flabby thinking

Let me see now, have I got this right? According to the Nov. 8 BDN, former Sen. Bill Cohen urged Maine citizens to “take control” of their government and demand their representatives in Congress work together with civility. Then former Sen. Alan Simpson suggested we go to town meetings and tell our reps they are lying SOBs, except he wasn’t polite enough to use the acronym. Is this an example of the civility that has disappeared? Any clue where it has gone?

The reporter described both senators’ urgings to reduce the deficit and the debt through spending cuts, but I didn’t see that they discussed revenue at all. Our unselfish elders, paying the bills from World War II, set the top marginal income tax rate at over 90 percent, whereas we allow our top earners to call income “carried interest” and only pay 20 percent tax. This conveniently shields their income from both FICA and income taxes. Could this be what Cohen meant by “getting soft and flabby in our thinking”?

Judy Judkins


Keep Maine thriving

I am glad that voters in Maine voted Yes on 5, allowing a bond to be passed so the Maine community colleges could receive funding to build more buildings, expanding the campuses and therefore accommodating more students and letting more people gain an education.

College kids should not be turned down from going to a school just because there is not enough room on that campus to accommodate them. That ultimately could hurt Maine’s future economy because there will not be enough skilled workers to keep Maine thriving. Don’t we want our state to flourish and have qualified people out there making it happen? On average, college graduates make 38 percent more than individuals who do not further their education, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As a college student myself, the importance of a post-secondary education is very high in my book. Although I attend the University of Maine, which is not a community college, I’m pleased that this funding got approved so that the people of my generation can continue to have that option to further their education and not worry about not being accepted to a school just because there is no room for them there.

If an increase in taxes is what concerned voters, all I have to say is our taxes will fluctuate no matter what issues are going on. Making Maine smarter will only help us out in the long run, not hurt us.

Jacob Backman



one word changed in last letter, in red near bottom

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