COVID-19 and moose permits
I understand that the drawing for moose permits will be online only as those in charge feel that would be prudent. Many unusual restrictions of gathering and other freedoms have been decreed by the authorities in these troubled times.
It would seem to me that given that line of reasoning, it would only make sense to avoid a possible second wave of the virus by mandating that all moose permits this year would go to Maine residents. Such a declaration would also help the people of Maine that may be facing economic hardships that are not due to their actions or choices by giving them a chance to load up their freezers with high quality low fat meat, which could make a huge difference in the lives of many Maine residents.
Perhaps it’s time to petition the state to do something to benefit Mainers.
The flags people fly
Most Americans are forever indebted to those tireless, dedicated medical professionals, emergency vehicle workers and those who are working to develop a vaccine to prevent further spread of this deadly virus.
Most but not all. Some are demanding an end to precautions and a return to business as usual. Apparently mindless of the pressing danger, and more interested in playing Simon Says to President Trump’s inconsistent dictates, their behavior is a slap in the face to all professionals who daily risk their lives, some of whom have sacrificed their lives.
To those of us who follow state guidelines not only out of self interest but respect for our fellow citizens, it is a travesty to see a group of self-styled “patriots” flying the American flag. I think they might exchange it for the Jolly Roger, which I think better expresses their apparent contempt for the welfare of our nation.
As Jack McKay describes in his op-ed piece on April 16, front line workers in Maine and other states are providing lifesaving work, but also risking their lives, and loved ones’ lives, through going to work during this pandemic. From health care workers to public safety employees and cashiers in supermarkets, we depend on their service, and share concern for the threats they face to their own well-being.
In the face of urgent needs among these workers for food, housing, child care, and personal protective equipment, we do indeed need to organize at the state and community levels to help. I and other members of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor’s Social Justice Committee commend McKay’s passionate plea for communities, agencies, businesses, and elected officials to help provide such critical support.
Our committee shares the goals and spirit outlined in the op-ed to work in the spirit of love and solidarity, and support the idea of making contributions to a COVID-19 solidarity fund. We applaud the local members of Food and Medicine in Brewer and the Eastern Maine Labor Council, and other people in the community, who have already pledged to donate funds. In addition, Food and Medicine volunteers are already working in the community to get food to people in need. We know that it will take all of us working together, doing what we can, to defeat this pandemic.
Some silver linings
The coronavirus is a tragedy. We’re told that millions will be sick and many thousands will die. Almost all the news in all media is about how horrific it is and how much worse it will be. Almost no one is considering the benefits that we’ll derive from it, and there are some.
One obvious benefit is that many people are becoming more active physically, and getting outdoors more. When I’ve gone for walks, I almost always see others walking, some of whom I believe have been couch potatoes for years. People are biking, hiking, and paddling, and when it’s done safely, it’s good.
People are reconnecting with others. They are contacting friends and relatives they didn’t have time for before, whether by phone, email or other methods.
People are helping others. Neighbors are shopping and doing other errands for neighbors. Volunteers are helping shut-ins get fed.
Not to be too grisly, but there will be long-term financial benefits to the country. More of those dying are Social Security recipients than Social Security contributors, so the system will stay afloat a little longer. And in the same vein, those dying now won’t be requiring years of expensive long term care in the future.
This virus is probably the worst thing I’ve seen in my life, but there are a few bits of silver in the lining.
Lawrence E. Merrill
Gideon and the environment
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency weakened regulations on the release of mercury from oil- and coal-fired power plants. Since January, the EPA has rolled back automobile pollution regulations, declined to tighten regulations on soot emissions, and loosened regulatory enforcement for corporations in light of COVID-19. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis, these regulatory rollbacks threaten both the environment and public health.
It comes as no surprise to me that Trump’s EPA seems to value big business’ deregulatory agenda more than public health or environmental protection, as it is stacked with political appointees with ties to the fossil fuel industry. The agency’s current head, Andrew Wheeler, for example, is a former fossil fuel lobbyist.
The Republican-controlled Senate has approved Trump’s EPA nominations with little apparent concern for the inevitable conflicts of interest that arise when fossil fuel industry insiders are tasked with regulating their former employers. Given Republican leaders’ unwillingness to address the climate crisis, it is the duty of environmentally-minded Americans to turn the Senate blue in November, ensuring that Democrats have the power to confirm or deny the president’s EPA nominees.
As Mainers, we can do our part by supporting Sara Gideon for U.S. Senate. During her time in the state legislature, she helped pass ambitious carbon emissions and renewable energy targets. Gideon is endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund and has pledged to ensure that EPA nominees are qualified and not beholden to the fossil fuel industry.
I believe her legislative record and commitment make Gideon the most qualified candidate to represent Maine’s environmental interests in the U.S. Senate.