Raise bottle deposit
With temperatures moderating, the snowbanks along the sides of roads are in retreat. Unfortunately, what is commonly exposed is more litter. That is in addition to what is discarded from passing vehicles on a daily basis. It is unlikely there is any road in Maine without its share of trash adorning the roadsides.
Is there a way to get people not to litter the roadsides? Our anti-litter law has been unsuccessful. Years ago, when the bottle and can deposit and refund program began, there was a marked decrease in the number of containers left along roadsides. With the 5-cent deposit on most bottles and cans, individuals were less likely to throw “money” out the window. With the demise of the worth of the dollar, the number of bottles and cans along roadsides has steadily increased.
The amount of the deposit needs to be substantially increased. It worked before, and it can be effective again. It would make individuals think twice about littering. It rewards those who would stop and pick up bottles and cans left by hard core litterers.
Yes, the initial purchase price of bottled and canned drinks would increase, but that would be refunded when the containers are returned to a proper facility. If residents of Maine would contact their state legislators and request they support an increase to the bottle and can deposit and return program, our roadsides can improve in appearance. “Vacationland” would then be more inviting to visitors who come to this state.
Act on climate change
The latest findings from the recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report only adds to the overwhelming evidence that climate change is already happening worldwide and impacts are set to grow worse if serious action isn’t taken soon. Worse still, the report says society is “ill-prepared” for the risks from climate change such as extreme weather, diminished snowpack and changing species migration.
We need to act on what the fossil fuel industry would like to not act on. The government has proposed carbon emission limits on power plants that account for nearly 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. If Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is really what she is advertising herself to be, I would hope to see her join Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, in supporting this important move to champion real action on carbon standards.
Pledge of Allegiance
If I were from Minnesota and came upon a YouTube video of two town councilors from faraway Maine sitting, while colleagues stood reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, I’d first off wonder what motivated them. Before I thoughtlessly slung incendiary epithets — probably anonymously — I’d wonder whether Thomas Brann and William Shakespeare could explain.
Well, they have. Turns out both are veterans. In Shakespeare’s case, he served the country as an officer for nearly 30 years. Brann is a Vietnam-era vet. Contrast that with a few words robotically regurgitated, purporting to indelibly confirm one’s patriotism. I don’t reject or oppose the pledge. I recited it every day for years, and by the end of first grade I could do it in my sleep.
As both Brann and Shakespeare suggest, base politics appear to be at work here. What likely prompted the recording and the YouTube posting was their continuing opposition to positions on issues adopted by a landowner’s group named, with an unabashed dose of hubris, HALO.
Look at its website and you can see that HALO opposes such measures as the extension of sidewalks, creation of walking trails, and deer habitat sanctuaries in the town. A posting on the website explains that its general aim is to protect the inviolable rights of Hampden’s landowners pursuant to the U.S. Constitution, which we can infer they understand implicitly. Yet, brilliant Supreme Court justices continue to hold divergent opinions on much of it.
Whether it’s a relatively few tea party Republican zealots in U.S. Congress, a single intractable and largely unpopular governor of the state of Maine, or an apparent majority of Hampden town councilors and their allies, right wing ideologues at all levels of government guarantee inertia when action is sorely needed.
The debate concerning the minimum wage has been interesting but incomplete. The minimum wage is supposed to ensure people in entry-level positions get a fair wage. These positions were traditionally held by working students and folks recently graduated from high school. It was the first step in the workforce where people established a resume of work habits and worked while getting more education. From there they moved on to higher-paying jobs in manufacturing or higher-paying positions that required more education.
The problem is that today those manufacturing jobs are going away. These jobs are being lost for a variety of reasons, but often the actions of our government — state and federal — hasten them out the door. Also, folks are not getting the education needed to fill better-paying jobs in areas such as the medical field and technology, which require that education. Now those service industry jobs that were entry-level have become long-term employment.
Some of those jobs lost could be replaced by better-paying jobs in small business if the government didn’t hog tie small business with things such as the Affordable Care Act and other job-killing rules and regulations.
Does the minimum wage need to be raised? Possibly, but what really needs to happen is for the government to get out of the way, stop over-regulating and turn the job creators of America loose to create those higher-paying jobs that allow folks to earn more.
The proposed Bangor School Department budget is being discussed. A $43.7 million budget? Up by 2.42 percent? It should be going down. This is obscene. We as taxpayers cannot afford this bloated, always-expanding, never-shrinking behemoth. I would like to see some fiscal responsibility. How about some efforts to reduce it?