Yes on Question 1
I hope you agree that our election campaigns should not be largely financed and thus controlled by the richest among us. After the election, the richest will have ready access to the politicians and will easily “convince” them to vote for measures that will make the rich even richer. The richest get to set tax policy, energy policy — you name it — in ways that will enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of us.
The only way I know to prevent the super rich from controlling public policy in their own selfish interests is to work for publicly funded campaigns. When campaigns are financed by those who stand to make huge financial profits, the public is left with a deluge of false and misleading advertising during the campaigns and with politicians who will do the bidding of the profit making interests that funded their campaigns. On the contrary, I believe our policy decisions should be made democratically by ourselves and by our elected representatives.
In Maine, we have clean elections so that ordinary citizens can be elected to the Legislature without much private financing. Recent court decisions have severely weakened Maine’s system. In order to fix it and prevent a flood of big money influencing our elections, we need to vote yes on Question 1 on Nov. 3.
Lack of respect
Although there may be some validity in the fact that the rash of mass shootings in this country may be because of a lack of gun control or guns in the wrong hands, thus pointing to the need for better help for the mentally challenged, I find there exists a lack of respect for authority and others’ lives and property. This includes intolerance and differences in race, religion and political beliefs.
As a former teacher, I struggled with students who were not properly supervised at home. There was a lack of follow through to set limits, which I believe young people want. My husband was an assistant principal who was respected by the students because his rules were enforced, no matter who was the offender. He was very well liked by the student body.
If only parents and those in authority would give consequences when needed, it might be a better world.
Wood: A worse polluter than coal
I couldn’t help but see the front page picture on the Oct. 27 issue of the BDN of the Rev. Jerry Wright stacking wood for his home heating this winter. Not much attention has been given to the renewable, greenness, nor the pollutants that wood burning entails.
Statistics show it will take some 50 years for the fastest growing trees to grow a cord of wood and a century or more for other types of trees, that Wright is stacking in his garage. Is this the definition of “renewable”?
Wood burning is anything but. Burning wood produces more carbon emissions than a coal-fired power plant produces for the same amount of BTUs. That’s not very green, is it?
Wood burning emits more pollutants into the air than a coal-burning power plant and it releases them right where you and I breathe. Interesting, yes?
I know the argument that the growing trees will use up the carbon dioxide that burning produces. That is true, as long a the sun shines on green leaves. Where there is winter and at night, trees reverse that process and consume oxygen emitting CO2.
Clean elections don’t cost much
Here’s my question to those who say Maine’s clean elections system is “welfare for politicians”: How much is $6 million out of a biennial budget of more than $6.5 billion? That’s less than 1 percent.
Is 1 percent of the Maine budget too much to protect the equality of our votes? Is it too much to protect our elected representatives from endless fundraising and obligations to those who give big money? Is it too much to give to save our democracy?
Maine people know the system is corrupt. Leading up to Question 1, more than 85 percent of voters were eager to sign the referendum petition. However, in polls taken here and across the country, people believe “the system is broken” and nothing can be done about it. Voting yes on Question 1 is one way to overcome citizen discouragement.
I believe there are many good people in government, and I think they need the help of voters to release them from a system corrupted by big money. Many people call that “oligarchy” or “plutocracy.” We can refer to the framers of the Constitution to understand what that means for representative democracy — the “Republic” that Benjamin Franklin cautioned could be difficult to keep.
Let’s give a strong “yes” vote to Question 1 on Nov. 3. Maine’s 1996 referendum led the nation with the creation of a Clean Elections system. It was right then, and the referendum to strengthen it is urgently needed now.
No new taxes for school funding
In response to Ginny Mott’s Oct. 27 BDN OpEd on the Stand up for Students campaign, I would point out that Maine already has a very progressive tax mechanism to fund public schools. It is a bit of misnomer to say the state covers up to 55 percent of public school costs. While the state allocates funds to cover 46 percent of the state’s total public school costs, it is not allocated equally to all schools.
Based on local property values, the state determines how much a community can afford to cover and makes up the difference. This results in some schools receiving virtually no state funding while others receive up to 99 percent state funding. So the “wealthy” communities, based on their property tax values, already pay a higher proportion of their local school costs.
Stand up for Students would further tax those wealthy communities to fund public schools outside their district.
Public schools are of vital importance to our society. But a healthy economy is vital to the state’s welfare. Additional taxes will only discourage more people from making Maine their permanent residence and will only exacerbate the shortage of funds for all vital services, including schools.