Generally I don’t read Sarah Smiley’s column, but the title of her Jan. 12 piece got my attention. It had the word “depression” in it.
She is lucky that she has a safe outlet to tell her story. She’s not going to lose her job as a contributor to the BDN, and, even if she did, she could probably get another job writing in some capacity.
Not everyone is so fortunate. My story involves the double whammy of bipolar illness and the behind-the-scenes struggles and upheaval it has caused in my 55 years of adulthood. Only a very few people in my life are aware.
Behind that struggle is success in some ways: Four college degrees, a military career and active participation in helping others in our community. People like Sarah and the many others like her don’t get medals for continuing to do good things in spite of this damnable chemical imbalance.
Many struggle on and actually do good things and make positive contributions to our communities and society.
These days it is rare to find bipartisan agreement on anything in Congress. So it’s worth noting that a sizable bloc of Democratic and Republican members of Congress united to preserve Congress’ authority over trade agreements.
This week a congressional bill was introduced to “fast track” the Trans-Pacific Partnership — the largest and most secretive free trade agreement ever negotiated — stripping Congress’ right to amend provisions that harm the public.
TPP is NAFTA on steroids. Its 600 “advisers” are comprised of global corporations like Kraft and Cargill, and lobbyists like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The public has no access to the text, and even Congress has extremely limited access.
Leaked excerpts from the TPP indicate it has become a wish list for corporate interests. And now the very corporations influencing the process are pressuring Congress to sign over congressional and public scrutiny before it’s complete.
I urge Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud to join their Republican and Democratic colleagues and vote against Fast Track Authority, to protect us from trade deals like the TPP that threaten public health, the environment, jobs and consumer rights.
Quality of life
If the Republican members of the Maine Legislature want to remain relevant, it’s time they stepped up and voted for the Medicaid expansion bill. The majority of legislators, from both parties, have already passed it once, but we need enough votes to override Gov. Paul LePage’s inevitable veto.
The remaining Republican holdouts are on the wrong side of history. Health care needs to change — and is changing. It is inhumane and inefficient to allow our residents to go without basic care.
What is most baffling about their position is that this is not a vote to spend money but to accept money, with absolutely no risk, that would cover 70,000 Mainers still living without health insurance. To refuse it is pure political posturing with a huge cost in human suffering and loss of life.
Seventy thousand is a lot of votes, not to mention the many people who know and love each of those people whose quality and length of life is lessened every day they go without care. It would behoove our Republican representatives to remember that.
I’d like to tell readers about a wonderful concert my wife and I attended on Feb. 12 by the Midcoast Community Chorus at the Strom Auditorium in Rockport. We drove down from Holden not quite knowing what to expect and were thrilled with the performance. These folks do so many things right — and not just the music. The sense of community that comes from the group and the group’s involvement with the community are quite special. And they’re getting kids involved. Well done all around.
The music was diverse, with great arrangements and excellent soloists. The backup instrumentalists were also superb. And it’s clear that the energy and enthusiasm of the director is a large part of what makes it all work.
We understand that the group will be doing a spring concert with all proceeds going to a Knox County homeless charity. Another of the things the group does right — contributing the money from one of their two yearly concerts to an area charity.
So we’ll be attending on a regular basis and would encourage others who appreciate good music very well performed and with a wonderful spirit to do so as well.
A letter in Thursday’s BDN from a woman in Old Town cites statistics that I cannot challenge, but her conclusions are faulty. If Medicaid expansion will cost $807 million over 10 years, and if the governor’s Alexander study cost $925,000, his expenditure would have funded far less than a year of Medicaid expansion. In fact it would have funded less than a week. Do the math.
The controversy between Gov. Paul LePage, who wants to align Maine’s general relief requirements with federal requirements, thereby reducing benefits to immigrants and refugees, and immigrant advocates, who want to maintain Maine’s more generous policies, presents us with a dilemma. Money is tight. We’re cutting programs to schools, for Maine’s elderly and disabled, and hard choices are before us. Deciding what’s right isn’t easy.
But one thing is clear: Expanding the number of new immigrants and refugees, given our current fiscal and employment reality, simply defies common sense. The Senate immigration “reform” bill, which President Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid have promised to pass, provides another amnesty for millions, rewarding those who broke our laws and protecting their jobs, once again, and massively expanding visas for new foreign job seekers, at the behest of corporate and ethnic lobbies, immigration lawyers, foreign governments and politicians pandering to the Hispanic vote, all of whom are indifferent to the unfunded costs falling on American communities.
Our anger should be directed at Washington, not refugees or immigrants.
We need a thoughtful, fact based, and civil discussion of immigration/refugee policy, and what we can honestly afford.
Mainers for Sensible Immigration Policy