The Easter sermon I heard was on Jesus’ message of compassion, justice and equality. I thought of seven things that would have saddened Jesus:
— The lack of Republican support for a raise in the minimum wage. In 2013, Walmart workers qualified for and received $6.2 billion in federal safety net programs, and fast-food workers qualified for $7 billion because their pay was so low. Meanwhile, Walmart had $13.2 billion in food stamp sales.
— The 70,000 Mainers who do not have health insurance because the Republicans once again upheld the governor’s veto of MaineCare expansion.
— The congressional Republicans who will not support extension of long-term unemployment benefits for millions of American workers who cannot find a job.
— The 52nd vote in the U.S. House to repeal Obamacare.
— The continuation of mammoth tax subsidies for the rich people and corporations.
— The pay equity bill did not get the vote of either Maine U.S. senator. While I was working for a company, a young, inexperienced male was hired at a higher salary than mine — even though our job descriptions were equal and I had been there for many years. The only reason I found out was the bookkeeper felt it was unjust.
— The lack of action in the Republican-led U.S. House on immigration reform.
On the other hand, there’s some good news in the 12 million Americans who now have insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act, like my neighbor who has a pre-existing condition.
Having climbed many mountains in Maine and New Hampshire, I can testify to the incredible scenery that can be seen from the tops of these mountains. Because of its sacred, wild character, the Great North Woods is a special place that deserves respect and protection.
Concerning this are the following issues.
The first are the windmills. While there is nothing wrong with windmills, the issue is one of location. Maine’s North Woods is not a good location for windmills.
The second issue is mining. If the end result of mining is an environment that has been destroyed, mining is certainly not a good idea for Maine’s North Woods.
Finally, there is the issue of a national park. If such a park is for the purpose of preserving the environment and, at the same time, attracting tourism dollars, then a park is a good idea.
I have hiked several times times in Acadia National Park, enjoying the great beauty of the park. Many tourists will agree that preserving this park has been a great idea.
State of turmoil
It appears that we are, nationally, in a state of turmoil, unable to find shared direction in the face of the political, economic and, above all, the environmental challenges we face. Our democracy is our essential decision-making tool, and we are losing it to the influence of corporate power and money at large, in our elections, in our Congress, in our government.
A citizen’s initiative to revoke the current legal fiction of corporations as people and money as speech — as in the Citizens United and McCutcheon Supreme Court decisions — is being circulated, demanding a constitutional amendment. This initiative, called We The People of Maine, deserves your support.
Michelle Shores’ April 9 BDN article regarding family planning and LD 1247 requires further input.
Shores’ support of this billion-dollar industry nicely glosses over critical information that is now more widely known — namely, that there are serious risks with the use of oral contraceptives. (Just Google the World Health Organization or the American Heart Association for facts about the birth control pill.) Labeling harmful birth control chemicals as “health care” is ridiculous.
LD 1247 states the need for increased funding to “prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections.” The truth of the matter is that the use of oral contraceptives-hormonal methods actually increases the risk of chlamydia and gonorrhea and also increases the risk of HIV. Family planning wants funding to pay for the treatment of the very diseases they are causing.
Abby Johnson, former director for a Planned Parenthood clinic, noted in her book “Unplanned” that many workers at these centers believe they are “providing a service that helps women. They are not the enemy. Satan is actually the enemy.” However, because of what family planning offers, a false sense of compassion is being used to deal with vulnerable women who are in danger of compromising their physical and emotional health. This conditioning process cannot change the ultimate truth that the life of the mother and her unborn baby hang in the balance.
For the better health and futures of mothers and their babies, we ask for Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of LD 1247.
Now is the hour
Time is now of the essence. Our Legislature has another opportunity to expand affordable health care coverage in Maine and the stakes are high. The state needs to take action. If we can help hardworking Mainers obtain the health care coverage they need to get through tough times then it is beneficial for Mainers and for Maine.
As amended, House Speaker Mark Eves’ Medicaid expansion bill, LD 1578, is a compromise bill that I hope our legislators will support in the face of a near certain veto from Gov. Paul LePage. It ensures that 70,000 people will be covered by Aug. 1 in order to maximize federal funds. It requires the administration to seek a waiver to transition childless adults to private insurance coverage. This is legislation that makes sense for Maine and will make a measurable difference for the thousands of Mainers who currently lack coverage and are foregoing important medical treatment because they cannot afford to seek care.
In the spirit of bipartisanship and on behalf of the thousands of hardworking Mainers who need care, I urge our legislators to do the right thing and vote in favor of expanding affordable health care coverage in Maine. Maine residents: Call your legislator today and ask them to vote for LD 1578. This is not about welfare. This is about saving lives and supporting Maine’s economy. We cannot afford to miss another opportunity.
AARP Maine Volunteer Executive Council