Listen and work together

I sympathize with an event Nick Schroeder writes about in a May 31 BDN article that “Hundreds peacefully protested police violence and racism in Maine’s largest city on Sunday, with many ending up on the steps of the city police station following demonstrations nationwide…” We as a state and country need to listen to what these groups are protesting for. These demonstrations are important, because they are helping make others aware of the wrongdoings of an archaic system. The only way for us to accomplish this feat is to listen and to work together.

We as a society need to ensure that we are cognizant of how we treat one another. While I agree with the protests fighting for a change, I do not agree with the violence or looting that is associated with them at times. Peaceful protests need to remain that and police, as well as citizens should not be harming others or their communities. This only hurts everyone in the long run and causes consequences like a ripple effect taking longer to recover from.

Whether you agree with how the protests are being carried out or not, we all need to learn from what is being said and done. Our country should be one of peace, tranquility, and of working to understand each other. It is our duty as citizens to stand up for injustices and to speak out against what we believe as inequitable treatment by a system that can aspire to be much better.

Benjamin Bucklin

Searsport

Unemployment context

We read that more than 40 million people — 1 in 4 U.S. workers — have now filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic started and are struggling to survive.

Does this really matter when the stock market is surging?

Robert Skoglund

St. George

Police condemning racism

I’m grateful for all of the good and brave police officers who serve throughout Maine. It has lifted my heart to see leaders of police departments in other states joining their communities in condemning police brutality and the pandemic of racism in our country.

I would love to see a press conference with Maine chiefs of police, county sheriffs and state police officers making statements against racism and letting our communities know what they are doing to make sure that racists and bullies are not part of the forces assigned to protect us.

Valerie Tate

Belfast

Pulling together

Contrary to Kevin Bushey’s assertion, Gov. Janet Mills didn’t conduct a power grab. Maine law gives emergency powers to Mills to act without delay to confront an unprecedented public health crisis.

There was no playbook for how this highly contagious, new-to-the-human race virus would behave. Had our health care system become overwhelmed, untold numbers of lives would have been jeopardized, including the lives of thousands of health care workers.

The governor’s actions were entirely appropriate given the moment we were in. She acted within powers given to her by the Legislature.

I’m certain there’s no one in Maine who wants the state’s economy to thrive any more than Mills. But the virus is still very much with us, and getting businesses open with public safety in mind is job one. She’s trying to make wise decisions that protect the health and the livelihoods of Mainers and the state’s fiscal wellbeing.

We not only have rights as citizens, we have responsibilities. The small changes that most of us have had to make pale in comparison to those fighting this disease, those caring for them or those worrying about a business surviving or having a job to return to.

We need “all hands on deck” offering solutions, not turning this pandemic into a partisan issue. Working together we might be able to emerge from this even stronger as a state. That will only happen if we’re pulling together, not using heated rhetoric to pull us apart.

Mary Ann Larson

Portland

Response to Gratwick

Geoff Gratwick correctly identifies the moral hazard of inappropriate public behavior spreading the coronavirus (“We’re all in the same boat, so must navigate the course together”). But he fails to adequately consider the moral hazard of lockdowns. Using Gratwick’s analogy, lockdowns are not simply a dangerous obstacle in the Corona River. They are a tsunami that threatens to overwhelm the river itself.

A paper from the United Nations University World Institute for Development estimates that, globally, more than 400 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty and more than 100 million people could face starvation due to economic devastation, much of which has been triggered by lockdowns. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 100 million children could miss vaccinations, which could trigger outbreaks of even deadlier diseases.

The U.S. lockdown policy is not some centuries-old, tried-and-true approach to virus control. It was conceived in 2006, at least in part, by nuclear weapons engineer Robert Glass, then fast-tracked by George W. Bush. Society-wide lockdowns are, in essence, an experiment. Meanwhile, many Asian countries have avoided lockdowns entirely by isolating positive cases in quarantine — a centuries-old, tried-and-true approach that has led to just seven deaths in Taiwan and four deaths in Hong Kong.

Like Wall Street in 2008, policymakers advocating for extended lockdowns assume the government will bail everyone out. The 2020 bailouts ( $5 trillion and counting) are orders of magnitude larger than 2008 ( $700 billion).

The cost of lockdowns are not borne by the gainfully employed or those with generous 401(k)s propped up by the Fed. They are borne by the poorest and most vulnerable members of society. According to Gratwick’s own definition, lockdowns constitute their own moral hazard.

James Kaiser

Ellsworth

Masks at businesses

Gov. Janet Mills’ recent executive order designed to ease restrictions and restart Maine’s economy gives important support to business owners wishing that customers wear masks upon entering their establishments. Part of the executive order requires businesses to “post readily visible signs” notifying customers that they must “wear cloth face coverings where physical distancing is not possible.”

Some shoppers claim wearing masks is unnecessary, but others say requiring them to wear masks infringes on their freedom of choice. Business owners, however, shouldn’t have to referee a health crisis or political debate. Perhaps we will see a new sign at the doors of stores and restaurants that reads: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Mask, No Service.

David Klausmeyer

Ellsworth