No corporate welfare for General Dynamics

What we have in the U.S. is dominant plutocracy, a political system controlled by and in the narrow interests of the wealthy. This is reflected in a shrinking meaningful sense of democracy in which politicians ignore the needs and will of the people. One cannot have both plutocracy, expressed through the dominant will and narrow interests of the wealthiest 1 percent and their multinational corporations, and any self-determining vibrant democracy.

Such a threat to democracy is illustrated by LD 1781, to be considered by the Taxation Committee in Augusta on Feb. 22. This is a Maine taxpayer subsidy of $60 million in tax breaks for Bath Iron Works, a subsidiary of out-of-state, transnational corporation General Dynamics.

This is a dominant pattern in Washington, D.C., and state legislatures, in which representatives of the wealthiest American and foreign citizens and multi-billion dollar corporations write plutocratic legislation and provide bullets points defending such actions. Politicians support such unjust and undemocratic legislation, or remain silent and complicit by inaction.

General Dynamics does not need millions in corporate welfare. In a time of widespread desperate need with shrinking investments in education, health care, infrastructure, meaningful life-supporting local jobs, and environmental sustainability, the CEO of General Dynamics received compensation of $21 million last year, and General Dynamics is awash in surplus funds that it could invest without Maine taxpayer corporate welfare.

General Dynamics practices its own version of the golden rule: Whoever has the gold rules. That’s not democracy. Ask your legislators to vote no on LD 1781.

Doug Allen


Oppose EPA cuts

The proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency would be nothing short of crippling in the effort to protect the health of Americans and Mainers. When the EPA has its budget slashed, our ability to safeguard public health and protect our air is greatly reduced. When these protections are weakened, negative health impacts for residents abound.

Investment in the EPA’s life-saving works directly correlates to how effective they are. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that allowing people to be exposed to toxins and bad air quality can negatively impact their health. Protecting our right to breathe healthy air and keeping us safe from dangerous toxins should be a priority for our government.

It is encouraging to see Maine’s congressional delegation oppose the cuts to these environmental programs. Maine has significant natural resources, and the health of its residents is tied to protecting these resources.

The American Lung Association encourages Maine’s congressional delegation to oppose this budget proposal and safeguard the health of our families and neighbors.

Lance Boucher

Director of public policy

American Lung Association in Maine


Another school shooting

For the 18th time in six weeks, a school shooting has occurred in this country. We become too familiar, perhaps numb, with the sequela. “What was the motive? Who was this person? Were there warning signs?” Yet despite the recurrent pleas by some for gun control, little happens but hand-wringing. Soon the cycle repeats itself.

As the details unfold regarding the Florida shooting, there appear to have been warning signs that should have raised concern and action. The greatest was the availability of horrific firearms in the home of an identified, threatening person of concern.

As a pediatrician, we ideally spend time in discussing prevention with patients. A leading cause of death in teens involves guns. Studies clearly show the benefit of and need to prevent access to guns in those — teens, in this case — who may be impulsive or volatile emotionally.

Obviously, we also need to address society’s inequities and support more comprehensive mental health services, all of which takes time and a prioritizing of resources. But limiting firearm access is a quick and easy partial fix.

Deborah Patten, M.D.


Time for gun control

We need action on gun control, and we need it now. The school shooting in Florida is just the latest of the more than 200 school shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. The New York Times reports that more than 400 people have been shot at or near schools over this period of time.

The president recently tweeted out his thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families, and it filled me with rage. Thoughts and prayers are insufficient at this time. The weapon this young man used was purchased legally, yet it is a weapon designed only for killing people. It is not a hunting tool, it is a killing machine, and it is unconscionable that he should have been able to purchase it, that anyone should be able to purchase a weapon like that.

It is time that our lawmakers display some courage rather than asking that elementary, middle, and high school students do so as they attend school. Yes, it will take courage to enact meaningful gun control. Yes, there will likely be political blowback. But is it worth it? How many more students will we see die in their classrooms and hallways? How many teachers must we celebrate as heroes as they protect their students with their bodies in the face of shooters?

It’s time for reform. And if Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins and Rep. Bruce Poliquin won’t do it, we’ll elect someone who will.

Brieanne Berry


Reaching out to hunters

Recently, I heard a Democratic candidate for the 2nd Congressional District talking about the failed campaigns of Emily Cain, assessing that she lost because she had never gutted a deer. Her never gutting a deer is a possibility.

But I question whether the people of northern Maine care more about hunting than the trillion dollar deficit Congress has planned for 2018. And Rep. Bruce Poliquin is part of that Congress.

If the Democrats are really focused on reaching out to northern Maine hunters, I have a suggestion. There are a couple of poems about skinning rabbits that the Democrats should memorize, or least keep in their pockets. And they should put away their well-worn copies of “The Velveteen Rabbit.”

Reciting the rabbit-skinning poems before crowds should prove that they are, indeed, deer-gutters at heart. Or, at least, rabbit-skinners.

Robb Cook