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People need a living wage
Raising the hourly federal pay rate, or for a fact any hourly rate, has historically elicited a negative response from some lawmakers primarily because of a concern related to its effect on small businesses. However, the present situation, which includes the pandemic and its effect on individuals and the economy, has made clear issues that need to be rethought.
We have, in this country, millions of people who work 40 hours and more a week for less than a living wage. Many of them are in jobs that are now considered essential, though it is obvious that everyone who needs work is essential to all of us on some level. Some of these people do not have the benefits of health care via insurance, or time off for family emergencies thus placing them in double jeopardy. People need a living wage and if that is not available they need a way to live.
If we are worried about small businesses, then provide a means for these businesses to be in a position to pay a living wage. The government could provide any number of avenues for small businesses to be successful without depriving the people they hire of a living.
Nancy L. Gilbert
Don’t dismiss NECEC benefits
Everytime I see the New England Clean Energy Connect transmission project in the news, people have a lot to say. Unfortunately, not much of it is based on the facts.
It is completely disingenuous for project opponents to discount the benefits and minimize the real jobs impact of the project, particularly during these challenging economic times. This project is going to create an average of 1,600 jobs during construction. Mainers are given preference over out-of-staters as these jobs are being filled, and I know there are already many Mainers working on the project. Along with jobs, the corridor project will bring broadband to rural western Maine communities, millions of dollars in new revenues for local governments and hundreds of millions of dollars in rate relief.
Those are real benefits for Mainers that opponents shouldn’t dismiss.
Saving money and the planet
In his recent BDN OpEd, James Boyce articulated the most effective way to address the climate emergency: “clamping a hard ceiling on the total fossil carbon we let into the nation’s economy and ratchet it down year by year.” To do so will inevitably increase fossil fuel prices for consumers, but that increase can be offset by placing a price on carbon that is returned to all households via a monthly dividend check.
This approach has long engendered criticism by powerful business lobbies like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. However, two weeks ago, the chamber shifted its position by telling the Washington Examiner it “supports a market-based approach to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions reductions across the U.S. economy.” An official with the chamber stated that carbon pricing is precisely such a market-based approach.
The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, garnering bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, fits the bill. A 2020 study suggested 68 percent of individuals will receive more in dividends than they pay in higher costs. That same Household Impact Study’s data for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District reveals that between 80 percent and 97 percent of households in the three lowest income quintiles will see a net gain (dividends exceed cost increases), while in the wealthier two quintiles the net loss will average only about 0.2 percent of income.
Thus, the vast majority of Mainers will financially benefit from the effort to greatly reduce carbon emissions. We can save money while saving the planet with sensible environmental legislation.