The Republican Party has splintered into coalitions including “tea partiers” and “Christian conservatives. Tea partiers do not compromise and have effectively gridlocked government. Christian conservatives have gained considerable party dominance and now impose Christian values on others in Congress and ultimately on all of us. Party moderates have lost their influence and submit to the dominance of the splinter factions.
In writing our Constitution, the framers referenced God but did not acknowledge Christianity. Despite that, the Supreme Court is populated with a Christian majority, and its recent spate of decisions clearly favors Christian values in utter disregard for other religions and millions of Christian non-believes.
Powerful and wealthy Christian believers, not unlike Hobby Lobby’s owners, can now openly discriminate in employment decisions. They can generously and secretly support their candidates from among the faithful to the detriment of non-Christians. Christian conservatives oppose abortion, consider homosexuality a lifestyle choice and ignore genetic implications. They want creationism taught in public schools exclusively or together with evolution theory and oppose separation of church and state.
The Republican Party does not enjoy a majority among voters, in part due to extremist factions, including Christian conservatives. Core Christian biblical imperatives are at odds with the principle platform of the Republican Party, which is pure capitalism that favors business interests and profits at the expense of the poor and disadvantaged. In disregard of that fact, millions of non-wealthy, some considered poor and disadvantaged, identify as Republicans; a glaring and inscrutable contradiction that defies logic.
On July 29, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection will hold an important public hearing that will help decide whether our state will list four dangerous phthalates as “priority chemicals” under the Kid-Safe Products Act and make it easier for consumers to know which products contain these chemicals.
Despite evidence linking exposure to phthalates to breast cancer, asthma and neurological problems in newborns, they can still be found in cosmetics, baby products and many other consumer goods. Because chemical companies aren’t required to test for health and safety hazards, and manufacturers aren’t required to list their chemical ingredients, we as consumers have no way to know which products are safe. This is unacceptable. The scientific evidence that we have available proves these chemicals are extremely dangerous and that they are in our bodies.
The DEP now has a chance to right this wrong, but unfortunately the department does not have a strong track record when it comes to protecting the public health. Just a few months ago, it bowed to pressure from the chemical lobby when it dropped its proposal to add formaldehyde, a toxic chemical produced by Koch Industries, to its priority list of chemicals.
We need to hold the DEP accountable. I urge my fellow Mainers to join me in speaking out for stronger phthalate regulations at the hearing on Tuesday. Our kids’ health can’t afford to wait one more day.
Wealth of information
The July 20 BDN article on the east-west highway quotes Maine’s gubernatorial candidates as saying, in general, that there’s not enough information out there to form an opinion on the subject. On the contrary, there is a wealth of information to be found at stopthecorridor.org.
This project, properly a utilities and transportation corridor, could comprise a private right of way 500- to 2,000-feet wide running across the state, and, besides a four-lane toll highway, could include pipelines for hydrocarbons and fresh water, and various transmission lines.
The impacts an industrial development of this scale would have on the wildernesses in the eastern and western regions of the state and on the rural towns in the middle should be obvious. Environmental fragmentation, economic bypass, resource extraction on a huge scale, property values compromised — the list goes on. This project begs the question: Where do we want to go from here?
The east-west corridor is a project for corporate developers to cash in on trends in global trade, and it represents more development based on fossil fuels, and more climate change. Maine is in a watershed moment, on the edge of huge opportunity grounded in our wealth of natural environment. Tourism, a multi-billion dollar industry and growing, and farming, the state’s fastest growing industry, depend on intact landscapes unsullied by Cianbro Corp.’s corridor.
With good design and sustainable practices, our environment will last as long as we let it and will return to us unending wealth and satisfactions.
Financial care boost
Nursing homes and the people they serve received a much needed financial boost when $13.1 million of combined state and federal matching funds were released. MaineCare is forced to operate with annual budget holes — sometimes in the $100-million range — and it’s the care providers and those they serve who are most threatened. Although this action does not cure the problem, it does provide welcome relief before more nursing homes around the state are forced to close.
Funding health care isn’t a problem unique to Maine. As a nation, we must become less reliant on taxpayer-funded programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and encourage the growth of private-pay options to fund long-term care costs. For example, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and federal government spend $2.4 billion annually to cover the nearly 30 percent of our population on Medicaid, which pays for about 67 percent of all nursing home residents.
It was a smart move to release $4.6 million of surplus Medicaid dollars to receive $8.5 million in matching federal funds. But the long term problem for MaineCare is the fact that there is a persistent budget shortfall. More than any other form of health care, nursing homes are asked to do more with less. But as evidenced with the closings of nursing homes in Lubec and Pittsfield, everything has its limits. Short-term fixes are welcome, but the bigger problem still looms overhead.
Owner, Life Care Funding Group