Tuesday, June 10, 2014: Informed opinion, risk taking, Bangor concert noise, rockweed, gun control, the Greatest Generation
Informed political opinion
I write to protest the prominence given to Robert Tyrer’s dismissive response to Stephen King’s thoughtful endorsement of Shenna Bellows for the fall election for U.S. Senate.
Tyrer seems to suggest that King, as a successful and acclaimed author, has no standing to
have an informed political opinion and should limit his efforts to his profession. I heartily
disagree. Our democracy is predicated on the principle of an informed citizenry.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins has often voted in a thoughtful and responsible way, while also voting consistently with the conservative wing of her party on crucial procedural and partisan issues. Tyrer inserts his take on issues, such as the minimum wage, as justification for her votes. Many respected pundits disagree with him and Collins on this and much more that Tyrer asserts as evidence.
I have known King since his undergraduate days, when he actively opposed U.S. policy in Vietnam. I was teaching mathematics at the University of Maine years later when he supported Gary Hart for president. He has always been a thoughtful voice for citizen participation in governance. His support of Shenna Bellows is consistent with that and should not be discounted in the discourse that drives our politics. Certainly not by apparent high-priest attitudes on commentators.
James B. Wagner
Open for business
I was embarrassed to read John Richardson and Catherine Renault’s May 23 BDN OpEd bashing “Open for Business” zones. To back up their argument, they cited the Saturn Parkway in Tennessee and Dell Computer in North Carolina as empty promises and corporate welfare because the plants closed. Instead, they argue, Maine should pour tax dollars into high-risk university research programs.
The authors simply do not understand risk. America was built on risk sharing from the lowest level — a shopkeeper’s “grubstake” — to the Lewis and Clark expedition, which resulted in America from “sea to shining sea.” When a kid opens a lemonade stand, that is not only risk sharing, but there is an embryonic infrastructure. Does the kid make a profit on the enterprise, per MBA calculations? Probably not. But kids who take risks produce the flat screens, Facebook and Twitter we all enjoy.
It wasn’t until I reached the authors’ credits that I understood why Maine ranks 50th in the nation to do business. The former commissioner of economic and community development didn’t understand risk sharing then or now. Banks loan money, and they have a loss reserve because not all folks with good credit repay.
Recruiting an established company to Maine with tax credits and deferred regulation is good for Maine. Mainers sharing risk with new Mainers in an “Open for Business” zone, who are paying 12 percent of their income into our coffers, is really good for Maine. Risk sharing has worked in America for over 300 years.
I am so tired of reading about the complaints and negative comments about the noise from the Waterfront Concerts. I know the noise is bothersome. I can hear it at my house. But I suck it up and try to keep in mind these events bring in millions of dollars and business that keep money in our community and employ our neighbors. I wish these negative nellies would see the positive to the concerts instead of tying up phone lines complaining. Next time there is a concert, maybe instead of focusing on the negative, they should take advantage of it and throw a party with their friends. After all, the music would be free.
Peter Neill alerts us in his recent OpEd to the fundamental role of rockweed in our ecosystem. In 1955, Rachel Carson’s “The Edge of the Sea” described the submarine forest of rockweed: “Here all other life exists within their shelter — a shelter so hospitable to small things needing protection from drying air, from rain, and from the surge of the running of the tides and the waves.” Neil writes that “again and again, we affirm short-term profit over long-term sustainability.”
In this electoral season, where is there a voice for the sustainability of our rockweed, Gulf of Maine and planet? Climate change is a slow process. But commercial overharvesting is quick and dirty.
I was puzzled by the comments attributed to former Maine Attorney General James Tierney regarding the recent triple murder trial in Bangor. He states, “This was a horrifying crime by Maine criminal standards. This just doesn’t happen here. Forever, half of the 25 or so homicides each year have been domestic-violence related, with an occasional stranger slaying.”
What? In Maine people are killing their spouses and children every year. That isn’t horrifying?
If 12 people every year are murdering their family members, I don’t think we should be patting ourselves on the back. Isn’t it time to start thinking about gun control legislation?
The Greatest Generation still has difficulty looking into the accurate mirror of history to this day. As I watched the first African-American president shake the hands of World War II veterans on the shores of Normandy, France, the ugly heads of racism and prejudice once again reared their heads.
There was not one non-white face among those veterans! Throughout this weekend, marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day, there was not one movie on the major networks portraying the historic heroic actions of non-white veterans. It appeared once again that World War II was a war fought exclusively by white men and women to liberate both the Pacific and Europe from the evils of fascism.
What truly makes the World War II generation the “Greatest Generation” is that men and women from segregated, prejudiced locations across America gave their blood on foreign fields and returned to the same conditions unrecognized, unheralded and still unacknowledged.
The Greatest Generation was also composed of the all-Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team, whose motto was “Go for Broke,” the Red Ball Express that comprised primarily African-American soldiers, and the Tuskegee Airmen of the 332nd and 477th Fighter groups — all African-American airmen.
America is still made up of all colors, creeds, beliefs and lifestyles; it still takes all Americans to make up the “Greatest Generation.”
Let America continue to fight the good fight at home against monochromic interpretations of history, politics and lifestyle.