The Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, guaranteeing our human rights. When you think how recent events have made the Bill of Rights all but moribund, you realize there’s no cause for celebration.
Here’s an abbreviated list of the amendments and where they stand today, in my opinion:
1. Free speech and assembly: OK, if you are not Occupy, but you will be recorded.
2. Right to bear arms: Good.
3. Quartering of troops: Good.
4. No search and seizure without cause and without a warrant: Gone, with widespread, warrantless surveillance.
5. Due process: Gone, with secret prisons, imprisonment without charges.
6. Right to a speedy, public trial: Gone, with military tribunals in Guantanamo.
7. Trial by jury for property crimes: Not if you steal on Wall Street.
8. Cruel and unusual punishment: Gone with executive decision to torture prisoners.
9. People have other rights even if not enumerated in the Constitution: Good.
10. Powers not delegated to the U.S. by the Constitution reserved for the states and the people: Arguable.
Breathing life back into the Bill of Rights may seem a hopeless challenge. But the Constitution and its amendments are the foundation of our legal system. They, above all other laws, are supposed to be upheld by our government. They are ours, passed down through 223 years of American history to us.
Read them. Share them. Speak out when you see them being broken. Challenge the illegal status quo.
Don’t let them become history.
I take exception to Sharon Tisher’s Feb. 26 letter to the editor. Columnist Charles Krauthammer is correct to point out that “settled science” is not a possibility. While there are important instances where there is virtually no doubt about the conclusions, most areas of science are scarcely in that state.
Let us look at the current state of climate science. It is true that 97 percent of climate papers believe climate change is a reality. However, let us examine just what climate change might mean. One possible idea might be the increasing variability of weather. However, another might be that anything can happen. This latter, under the cover of erudition, is the ultimate expression of ignorance, hardly the stuff of even uncertain science.
What Krauthammer has done is to deny certainty in an uncertain world. Like many others, I, too, would like to know the truth. But the tools of science frequently offer considerably less. The mammography example offered by Krauthammer is an example of this. The point and example are not trivial.
Congratulations to the reporter who interviewed Bode Miller after his unsuccessful skiing run in the U.S. Olympics. Instead of interviewing him about his skiing or talking about the course or what may have gone wrong with his effort, all she did was hammer away at him about the recent loss of his brother and unendingly persisted in her black-hearted line of questioning until she succeeded in making a dedicated Olympic participant cry in front of the whole world.
She should be fired and should get a job with the National Enquirer, where she belongs.
Don’t look at the “welfare cheats” when you want to know what’s wrong with the state of affairs. Look instead at corporations such as the National Football League commissioner who received over $40 million in compensation in 2012 and yet it’s called a “nonprofit” entity and not taxed.
Look also at our millionaire congressmen who refuse to increase the taxes on millionaires.
School board vote
The purpose of this letter is to strongly endorse Jake Eckert and Shari Kinnison for the two available seats on the Regional School Unit 26 board. Orono schools currently find themselves in an exciting place filled with opportunity, as new superintendent Joanne Harriman and Orono’s dedicated teachers and staff work to provide top education to Orono students.
They are excellent choices to join the school board and help drive educational improvement forward. They are staunch advocates for fiscal responsibility while at the same time believing that we as a community are obligated to provide our children with the best education we can given the resources at our disposal. They also recognize that top-quality schools with high achieving students are critical to the health and growth of any community and that Orono’s future as a growing and vibrant community is inextricably linked to having outstanding schools.
Shari and Jake both have children in the Orono schools and will work tirelessly as members of the board to ensure that Orono schools are the best that they can be. I urge all Orono residents to join me in voting for Eckert and Kinnison for school board on March 11.
In January 2012, the Maine State Chamber and Maine Development Foundation released “Making Maine Work.” This report highlights the long-term economic benefits from investment in early learning. Research has shown that quality early learning programs will develop in children the 21st century skills Maine businesses need. These are the hard skills — reading, writing and math — and the soft skills — the ability to be communicators, collaborators and critical thinkers.
Research has also shown that programs such as Head Start, Early Head Start, high-quality child care and pre-K will ensure an educated, skilled future workforce because these programs increase the skills children need to succeed in school; reduce the need for special education; increase graduation rates; and increase median earnings when those children enter the workforce.
Furthermore, we know these programs will pay for themselves because this investment has one of the highest returns of any public investment we can make — up to $16 for every $1 spent. That is real economic development.
The foundation for a strong workforce begins at birth. If we begin our “workforce development” earlier in a child’s life; higher quality early learning sets the stage for better outcomes in the future.
We must prioritize resources in the area of early childhood development. State policymakers should continue to work collaboratively to address the important issues of funding for Head Start, high-quality child care and pre-K because we all want to give our kids the best start in life possible.
Jessica L. Laliberte
Government relations specialist
Maine State Chamber of Commerce