Adult leadership needed
These are perilous times and more than ever, we need everyone, especially our senators and representatives to stand up and demand adult behavior from the White House in terms of the very real threats of climate change and nuclear war.
Denying climate change is not going to make living in Florida, Texas, or Puerto Rico easier. The world knows that Kim Jong Un is deranged and acts like a hurting child. But a president who is handling the worst nuclear crisis since the Cuban missile crisis by calling the North Korean leader childish names, only to have him respond in the exact same way, is placing the entire world in danger. It is a basic principle of psychology that threatening a bully is not the way to gain cooperation or build alliances. After the president’s first serious round of threats, Kim claims to have tested a hydrogen bomb, and now he is threatening even worse.
This president should not be allowed to dictate or override our State Department’s serious diplomatic efforts. His is a strategy that immediately threatens 25 million South Koreans who live 35 miles from the North Korean border, as well as Japanese and U.S. citizens.
The U.S. and the world has done an amazing job of keeping the nuclear genie in the bottle for 70 years. Our leaders in the Senate and House of both parties need to use their power and position to stop this nuclear race between leaders who are engaged in a power play of egos without thinking about the safety of humanity.
Renegotiating a fair NAFTA
While we have all been distracted by what seem like daily crises, something else very important is happening — the North American Free Trade Agreement is being re-negotiated. The original free trade agreement, which went into effect in 1994, did tremendous harm to Maine. More than 25,000 Maine workers have been certified by Trade Adjustment Assistance as having lost their jobs to offshoring or competition with imports since NAFTA. The true total is assuredly much higher.
Maine needs trade, and we need trade agreements that help us, not harm us. One particularly dangerous section of NAFTA is its investor-state dispute settlement provisions. After three rounds of negotiations, we still don’t know whether U.S. negotiators will demand the removal of this provision.
The dispute settlement provision allows foreign corporations to sue the U.S. government in front of tribunals of three corporate lawyers. The tribunals can order taxpayers to pay the corporations unlimited sums of money, including for the loss of expected future profits, and there is no right to appeal the tribunals’ decisions. The corporations only need to convince the tribunal that a law protecting public health, workplace safety or our environment violates their special NAFTA rights.
This provision is an attack on Maine’s ability to make and enforce our own laws and protect our communities. I hope you will join me in insisting that our senators and representatives fight for a NAFTA that doesn’t include this provision, and that benefits all Mainers.
End childhood obesity
This letter may not be politically correct in content associated with the concern I have for us all here in Maine. The national statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show an overwhelming number of children in the United States are overweight, with 20 percent being “ clinically obese.”
In the recent past, effort was made to address this issue, but in the last few years in Washington it has failed. Bringing this weighty subject to Maine, it gets more personal. We need to have parental concern for how our children have become overweight. The bad eating habits can lead to amputation of limbs, blindness and heart issues. Even more is the medical costs covered and not covered by medical insurance as well as out-of-pocket costs.
We have stores for groceries but do not have stores for money. If a child is growing up healthy and happy it will come through parental care. Be well the child, be well my neighbor.