Collins’ tax vote bad for Maine
I am terribly disappointed in Sen. Susan Collins’ support for the Senate “tax reform” bill.
We need tax reform that favors the poor and middle class, not the rich. We need tax reform that favors renewable energy, not fossil fuels. We need tax reform that favors teachers and students, not increased taxes on universities and graduate students.
We need tax reform that supports affordable health coverage for all, not that causes millions to lose it. We need tax reform that protects Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, not tax breaks for the rich.
We need tax reform that supports small businesses, not big corporations. We need tax reform that is revenue neutral, not the false promises of trickle-down economics.
If we do add to the deficit, it should benefit of the American people and the environment, not companies and individuals who are currently banking record profits. The House and Senate tax bills are bad for the country. They are built on faulty premises and ” voodoo economics.” They are unethical and un-American. They are bad for Mainers, and we know it.
I ask congressional Republicans: “What are you thinking? Who do you work for?” I urge Collins to vote no when the conference bill comes to the Senate.
Killing elephants wrong
Once again, it is time to call out those like Bangor safari owner Tim Farren who justify their Darwinism with excuses like, “How do you manage a population of 10,000-12,000 pound [elephants] that eat 100-200 pounds of food a day and decimate everything in their path?”
Even if Farren’s justification for shooting animals that “decimate[s] everything in their path” were true, which it is not ( only 20 percent of male elephants are crop raiders), the question is still begged: Who are the greater decimators, men or elephant? Because we are men and they are animals, we can kill them and rely on the justification that they are violent and destructive.
In order to further expose this immoral logic, let’s examine measured intelligence. I propose that humans kill nonhumans because of some combination of convenience, expedience and emotional comfort because they really aren’t that smart, anyway. Elephant (and cetaceans) demonstrate empathy, problem-solving, emotionality and self-awareness, the latter which humans don’t achieve until about age 2.
I’m appalled even by the suggestion that revenues from elephant hunting improve conservation efforts in Africa. I don’t doubt the theoretical veracity of that statement, but do we want to be associated with those kinds of solutions? I am put in mind of the U.S. Army officer in Vietnam who declared that it was “necessary to destroy the village of Ben Tre in order to save it.”
We human beings could use a little more of what elephants have or we won’t live much longer than they will.
Airport fee hike wrong for Maine
Maine has made impressive economic progress in the past seven years. Unemployment has hit a record low, and confidence in our state as a place to do business has grown. We need to keep Maine on that road, and we must discourage policies that could push us off track.
That’s why, as commissioner of the Maine Department Economic and Community Development, I oppose a proposal being debated in Washington that would increase the passenger facilities charge, a fee that passengers pay in their ticket price for use of airports.
An increase in the fee could hurt Maine’s economic future. The fee would hit Maine especially hard because it’s applied to each leg of a flight. That means places like Bangor become more expensive because many flights require connections, and a fee would be charged for each connection. Businesses could be more reluctant to relocate here, knowing they would have to pay more in fees to fly clients out of Bangor than elsewhere.
With the Maine Office of Tourism, which is a part of my department, we have a responsibility to Maine’s tourism industry — and the impact on tourism could be costly. Last year, Maine’s tourism economy was worth $6 billion. With tourism as one of our primary economic drivers, we simply can’t afford any policy change that makes it more expensive for American families to fly to Maine.
Piling on taxes and fees does not encourage economic growth. That’s why raising the passenger facility charge is a bad idea. It will make Maine less competitive.
Maine Department of Economic and Community Development
Belfast bag ban is here
Holiday carols and Christmas cheer aren’t the only things in the air in Belfast this time of year. The city is getting ready for implementation on Jan. 1 of two new ordinances banning single-use plastic bags and polystyrene (Styrofoam).
Spurred by a local grass-roots effort and by a city council that has shown a progressive outlook concerning the environment and health of residents, Belfast thus becomes the 10th Maine city to either ban or charge for single-use plastic bags.
Food retailers will still be able to use plastic bags for packing meat, fish, vegetables and so on. And while polystyrene food and drink containers for takeout are prohibited, there’s an exception for trays used to package meats and fish.
Businesses are already gearing up for these changes. Shoppers are planning too, by acquiring reusable bags instead of relying on paper bags, which don’t last long and, like plastic, are a strain on the environment. Reusable bags are available for a very reasonable price at checkout counters at Hannaford, and are being distributed by the group Ban the Bag Belfast. Three local banks are providing about 1,500 bags for distribution by Ban the Bag Belfast.
Those who already have enough reusable bags can donate their extras for distribution at Goodwill in Belfast.
The new ordinances will take some getting used to (keeping reusable bags in the car, not in a closet, is a good idea). But, along with parallel efforts to reduce plastic use at local schools and at the hospital cafeteria, 2018 truly will be a new year in Belfast.