The cost of what we use
My buddy told me a story about friends that as young adults went to live in a commune. The gal used to get shampoo from the storeroom. She used lots of it, making nice bubbles. After they left and were responsible for buying shampoo, she realized what it cost and was more frugal with it.
This is basic economics. Because she didn’t see the cost of what she was using, she wastefully used more and more.
That’s what we formerly did with sewage and industrial pollution in the rivers and we now do with carbon in the atmosphere. Because we don’t see the true costs of polluting the air with carbon and subsidizing foreign oil with military interventions, we just keep wastefully doing more and more of it.
What can we do? We can ask our congressional representatives to support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, H.R. 763, which would assign a cost-based price to carbon, collect the fees from producers and return the dividends to us directly to spend how we see fit.
Firearm safety bills
Several firearm safety bills that will save lives are making their way through the Maine Legislature. It’s critical your lawmakers hear from you (even the Democrats). Let them know you are paying attention.
In particular, please ask them to support LD 379, a “safe gun storage” bill. Such laws have been found to lower the child death rate by firearm by as much as one third. Even Texas just passed a safe storage bill. Also ask them to support LD 1276 to require background checks on all private sales and LD 1099 to require a 72-hour waiting period during purchase.
Lastly, ask their support on LD 1312, the “red flag” bill, which would allow for firearms to be temporarily removed from the home of a loved one who is in crisis. “Red flag” bills have been passed in red states and blue states alike, and allow for full due process. The petition is carefully evaluated and must be resolved in 14 days. There appears to be another bill — crafted by Aroostook County Sen. Mike Carpenter, Gov. Janet Mills and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, a group typically opposed to reasonable gun legislation. Do not be fooled. It is not a “red flag” bill.
Another tax on Mainers
Increasingly concerns arise with this legislative session looking to raise taxes on Mainers. One of the most egregious efforts resides in LD 1254, an effort to burden Mainers with local option taxes under the cloak of helping rural parts of the state.
This misguided and harmful change would force the hotels and restaurants to suffer yet another increase in the tax rate. Not all that long ago, such increases were to be temporary and in even closer memory, this governor said she would not support new taxes in her first two years. At our family business, visitors still complain about the last increase.
And this effort to help rural Maine is deceptive. While 75 percent of the funds raised would be returned to the town that raises them, the other 25 percent would go to the Maine Rural Development Authority — but this funding can only be used for redevelopment of industrial and manufacturing sites. It is not a windfall to rural Maine.
Additionally, with towns such as Ogunquit and cities such as Portland already collecting revenue in parking and cruise ships docking fees, this will only serve to create greater disparity in the “have” and “have not” towns. As studies on local option taxes as far back as the 1970s has shown, such mismanagement of tax policy makes wealthy towns wealthier and poor towns poorer.
Local options, seasonal gas tax, increased lodging tax — what’s next for visitors and residents? A local sales tax, too? Mainers expected different of this legislative session, but are just getting more of the same: taxes.