Monday, March 20, 2017: North Woods monument good for Maine, promote local food sovereignty, social safety net in danger
Promote food sovereignty
I agree with Michael Cianchette that food sovereignty should be addressed at the state level. But I have problems with several of his points.
He wrote that “people have rights, towns don’t.” Towns consist of people, and Maine law gives towns the right to create ordinances. Cianchette also said “towns lack infrastructure to monitor food safety.” But these food sovereignty ordinances neither require nor desire monitoring.
He also said we should “fix regulations standing between consumers and farmers at the state level.” This has been in progress for the last few legislative sessions, and it has been consistently resisted. In the 127th Legislature, a bill passed unanimously by both houses died at the appropriations table.
By allowing face-to-face transactions based on personal knowledge, trust and common sense, these ordinances recognize state policy that “promote[s] self-reliance and personal responsibility by ensuring the ability of individuals, families and other entities to prepare, process, advertise and sell foods directly to customers intended solely for consumption by the customers or their families.”
They don’t force anyone to buy or consume anything. They don’t allow unregulated products on store shelves. They don’t shield anyone from liability. They do allow us to take responsibility for ourselves, eat what we feel is best for us and not buy from the industrial corporate food system that regularly has failed to protect the public.
Yes, address food sovereignty at the state level but without more bureaucracy and regulation.
Stand up to Trump
In previous communications Sen. Angus King has sent me, he spoke of “support[ing] a president’s broad ability to appoint heads of agencies as they see fit,” based on his experience as a former executive. This is essentially trying to make the best of a bad situation.
While not an unreasonable approach in normal times, I think it is a mistake in these abnormal times. We have a president who has largely nominated candidates to Cabinet positions who are at least as ethically challenged as him and in some cases unqualified for their positions.
I think King should directly confront President Donald Trump’s dysfunctional governing style. It’s better to stand up and acknowledge that the emperor has no clothes and say no. Rick Perry did not have the best interests of U.S. citizens in mind four years ago when he once contemplated getting rid of the Department of Energy, which he now oversees.
Jeff Session’s never should have been considered for attorney general. Ben Carson, who heads the Department of Housing and Urban Development, doesn’t know enough about government to work in it. Betsy DeVos, who heads the Department of Education, supports charter schools when they perform no better than public schools, and Scott Pruitt, who heads the Environmental Protection Agency, is a climate change denier.
I do not think the president should nominate agency heads who oppose the will of the majority of voters, and King should not enable his efforts to do that.
Safety net in danger
As the Republicans bumble about in an effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, we should be aware of their long-term goals. Republican plans for such deconstruction, besides repealing the Affordable Care Act, include weakening Medicaid, which provides health care for low-income people, by capping funding to states.
Republicans control both chambers of Congress, the White House and there will soon be a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. They will be in position to go even further. Medicare has long been a target for elimination by Republicans. Like falling dominos, ending the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and Medicare will encourage Republicans to seek to topple the last domino, Social Security.
Democrats have been able to block efforts to privatize Social Security, but Republican control of all branches of our government will enable them to essentially do whatever they wish. Those most dependant on these government programs who voted Republican can only blame themselves.
Monument good for Maine
Why would our governor take it upon himself to ask the president to do away with our national monument? The monument already is helping Maine, even though the governor doesn’t think so.
Rep. Bruce Poliquin hasn’t taken a position on whether he thinks the monument is good or bad for Maine. At least, our U.S. senators can see the good that will come out of the monument.
People want food sovereignty
By suggesting in his March 11 BDN column that food sovereignty is somehow politics going into “Bizarro World,” Michael Cianchette is making clear reference to the square planet of DC Comics fame. Any comic book reader worth his or her salt knows that Bizarro World also was called “htraE” — earth spelled backward — and ruled by characters who constantly made stupid decisions. Bizarro World is a euphemism for a backward bureaucratic state.
Cianchette repeatedly commits one of the hallmarks of Bizarro World: doublespeak. Doublespeak is language designed to mislead and distort reality. For example, he claims the state should make simple regulations and “apply them evenhandedly statewide.” “Evenhandedness,” here, is doublespeak for the “one-size-fits-all” regulation that food sovereignty wants to change. Similarly, to say Rep. Jeff Timberlake “wants to keep the state engaged” is doublespeak for licensure and facilities requirements, the combination of which is often too expensive for new and small-scale farmers to afford.
Food sovereignty argues for scale-appropriate regulations that take into account local dynamics. These include local growing conditions, municipal economic viability and market access for new and small-scale farmers by mitigating the barriers needed to sell their products directly to customers, who are often neighbors.
Cianchette misses the point of food sovereignty. Worse, he misleads through doublespeak. Maine law grants municipalities all powers necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of their residents. So, yes, power is inherent to people, and the people are speaking. Listen.