Good deal with Iran
The deal with Iran that President Barack Obama announced Thursday is a big step forward. It supports a peaceful development of our relations with Iran. It is true that Iran has over the years been misleading the world about their nuclear plans, but the new deal has verification measures that should take care of any attempt to cheat. The sanctions are going to be lifted gradually as progress is made with fulfilling the strict commitments that Iran will have to undertake.
It is a great advantage that this U.S.-lead solution is backed by the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Germany and China and supported by the European Union.
Unfortunately, there are those who have been advocating a much more belligerent attitude. One nearly gets the impression that they don’t want to have a workable peaceful solution but instead are traveling down a road that would end with military destruction of the nuclear installations in Iran. That would be a tragedy and further complicate the already complicated situation in the Middle East. It is enough fighting as it is. Obama has taken a cautious line and mainly relies on local allies and friends to restore order, which will take a long time.
The details of an agreement will now be worked out and Congress should abstain from sabotaging the conclusion of this peaceful solution.
‘And’ dumb fight
There is an old saying: “You get what you pay for.” This holds equally true for our politicians. They couldn’t decide to fix the roof over their heads if it were leaking, and if a bill were introduced it would include building a new bridge where there isn’t a need for one. They fight and bad-mouth each other over dumb things like the word “and.”
Why do we need a new bill to correct a typo? This is not complicated. Maine has got to be the laughing stock of many states over this most recent addition to the list of dumb things our elected officials seem to think is important to Mainers.
There are far bigger areas that need addressing — creating a fair state tax structure, health care, our falling-apart roads and bridges, and on and on.
Reflecting on politics in Maine can be very unsettling these days. The governor has said, when convenient for him and when he talks about business investments, that uncertainty in the political environment is what makes the state unattractive. Yet he sows uncertainty freely to pursue his ideological agenda.
A well-regarded political theorist once wrote that democracies are most commonly corrupted by the insolence of demagogues. The governor’s actions are not necessarily illegal, but they are anti-democratic and flaunt the notion that we have a government of laws not based on the whims of one individual.
LePage’s record as a demagogue includes some great examples: pressuring the Legislature to modify a wind power deal that pushed millions of dollars in investments out of the state; attempting to influence adjudicatory hearings held by the labor department on unemployment determinations; refusing, twice, to issue Land for Maine’s Future bonds that have been voter approved; attempting to influence the Maine Human Rights Commission by withholding funding from the commission; threatening the trustees of the Maine Community College System unless they fired the president of the system; and threatening to take down any legislator, regardless of party, who denies him his tax cuts.
The theorist, by the way, was Aristotle.
Unending student loans
My sister is a graduate of Smith College and she accumulated a lot of debt in her four years there. Last year she paid over $2,000 on her student loans and only $25 of that $2,000 went towards her actual school bill. The rest went towards the interest that had accumulated over the years since she graduated. In order to keep up with the interest, she was told she would have to pay over $700 a month, and with a new baby it is a little difficult to make that sort of payment.
So is my sister destined to pay on her college education, which she was told that she would need to have, for the rest of her life? America wants to be a frontrunner in the world, but in order to do that we need educated citizens. By making our citizens pay more than what they will make in a year of work in order to get that education, we are going to limit the educated people we have in our country, which after a few generations will greatly decrease how educated the American people are.
I think that if college was free or at least cheaper than it is, the poverty and unemployment rate in America would go down.
The March 17 BDN editorial regarding the collaboration between the administration and our union around the waiver issue is, indeed, encouraging. It has been troublesome to have been the target of such direct disrespect on the part of the governor as he has continually targeted education. I have seen this become a regular aspect of governments, state and federal, as well as a practice by the business community.
The editorial ended with the idea that teachers need to step up to the plate and create an effective evaluation system. Of course. We have them in place in many locations and continue to sharpen those systems to reflect current understandings around teaching and learning. We do not, however, understand the need to tie employment to test scores of children we may or may not teach. Neither do we comprehend the need of politicians or the business community to chastise us when factors entirely outside of our control impact the learning of our students.
I would listen with more understanding if those who so attack us could sit down with us, visit our classrooms for a half day or more, attend our meetings, or attempt to understand the pressures that we face educating the kids we so dearly care about.
There is a lot going on in schools that is encouraging and heartening and quite a bit that can use some tweaking. We’d all get a lot more done if it were being done in an environment of respect.
Joseph E. Charnley
King Middle School