No Typhoid Mary
Registered Nurse Kaci Hickox is not Typhoid Mary, and Ebola is not the Black Plague writ large here in Maine (or North America for that matter). Requiring her quarantine is draconian and blatantly unconstitutional (An unheated tent with a portable toilet in New Jersey? This from a governor who would be the next president? Don’t get me started on that teacher put on paid leave over in Strong.)
Anyone who fears contracting a possibly fatal viral illness needs to get a flu shot and stop fretting over a public health issue that isn’t. Unlike Ebola, influenza is easily transmissible, even without person-to-person contact, and it kills far more people than Ebola ever will in the U.S.
The fright mongers need to dial it down, and the people spun up about this need to get a grip (not “grippe,” however).
Coal, gas, wind, solar
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data service, coal produced 39 percent of U.S. electricity generation in 2013 and over 50 percent globally. Natural gas produced 27 percent in the U.S., nuclear 19 percent, hydropower 7 percent, and the two darlings of the renewable energy crowd, wind and solar, 4 percent and 0.23 percent, respectively.
Global demand for coal is expected to increase 58 percent over the next 20 years, with China and India consuming most of the increase. In recent months, China, the world’s largest consumer of coal, has been building a coal-fired plant each week.
A megawatt-hour of coal energy costs around $82. Natural gas costs $84. Wind energy comes in at $189 and solar at $254.
While China and India continue to pollute the air beyond any U.S. control, the liberal crowd insists on slapping a carbon tax on U.S. businesses, already the most highly taxed in the world.
Whatever your position on global warming or reducing emissions, if you want your lights to stay on, coal and gas can make that happen — not the windmills on the mountains of Maine.
Parks bring jobs
A recent headline in the Bozeman Chronicle read: “Gallatin County leads the state in tourism spending.” Gallatin County is located in southwestern Montana (where I raised my family) and is home to the West Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. The numbers tell the story on the economic vitality added to areas with national parks.
Penobscot County needs jobs and a national park would certainly be one way to add jobs and to diversify their economy away from being so dependent on the wood and pulp industries — the mills are never coming back to Millinocket and East Millinocket. Maine has one of the lowest publicly available land percentages of any state in the Lower 48. Right around 92 percent of our state is in private hands and becoming less accessible to the public all the time. We have a lot of woods, mountains, rivers and shoreline, but little and shrinking public access.
Roxanne Quimby is giving us a chance, if our state Legislature and congressional delegation could only step up and make a new national park a reality. If not for jobs, then how about for the next generation?
Where’s welcome mat?
When I was a child, my mother used to take me to visit the Stinson family burial plot in Biddeford. I didn’t know anything was wrong until my grandfather on my father’s side died. He was buried in a French cemetery in Biddeford. Maine had equal-but-separate cemeteries, even for folks of the very same religion.
After the Civil War, Maine faced a huge emigration from Canada. It needed laborers to work the textile mills. But Anglo-Saxon Mainers were not always kind to the French. In Bangor they refused to rent housing to them. The laborers had to live in tents and caves their first winter. Anglo-Saxon Bangor was still embedded with 200 years of English-French wars. However, these were the very same Mainers who sent their boys to fight and die so that the South would be free of slavery. There is no need mention to Bangor folks the treatment that John Bapst faced 150-200 years ago.
Recently, at a public town planning board meeting, an official referred to me as “absentee landlord from Florida.” What was on his mind? My attorney tells me he is in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1865.
Maine folk need to be more kind to out-of-state investors. This is not good business sense to conflict Maine traditions (this is the way we do business Down East) with out-of-state investments. So where’s the welcome mat?
Tax cut problems
This past year, the Legislature had to find sources of income to offset the governor’s reductions in individual income tax rates. One of the ways they did was limiting itemized deductions on 1040s to $27,500. Charitable contributions are limited to that amount. Nursing home costs are also included in that amount.
What happens if you have incurred $80,000 of itemized deductions on form 1040 Schedule B? You are limited to $27,500. Say $60,000 was for nursing home costs and $10,000 was for charitable contributions. What do you cut? The message is quite clear: you cut back on charitable contributions.
The governor and the Legislature are ignoring the long-term effects of their snow job to those who give to charities and have to pay nursing home costs.
Church and state
I have attended various churches over the years where presentations were made by the Child Evangelism Fellowship organization, which sponsors Good News Clubs. They are good Christian people who love children and don’t want them to end up in hell.
A big problem arises when they use public schools for their presentations. Their main goal seems to be teaching of the gospel to very young children. The gospel is the religious doctrine that says that all humans are sinners because of the sins of Adam and are therefore headed for an eternity in a horrible hell. The only way out is to accept Jesus as personal savior.
This is an act of proselytizing, which should not take place in a government building. Note that schools are dedicated to the teaching of well-established truths, not unsupported religious beliefs. Would Christians approve of the same thing for Islamists, Scientologists and the Church of Satan? I think not.
Let’s all get behind the First Amendment and keep Jefferson’s wall strong. It seems to have crumbled a lot in the last 10 years.