Stay home for the greater good
The fact that rural Maine doesn’t have the goods, services, or medical infrastructure to support an influx of people notwithstanding, we need to keep one thing in mind: As people move, so moves the virus.
For your own good and the greater good, stay home. Please.
What services would Gagnon cut?
One reason I read newspapers is to get a variety of opinions, so I read Matt Gagnon’s recent column concerning the latest government “spending spree” with interest.
As with previous columns concerning spending, he doesn’t propose how spending should be cut. It’s easy to say we should cut spending, but what would Gagnon eliminate? That’s the hard part.
The state has a myriad of obligations that must be paid for: prisons, education, roads. Is he willing to tell the Maine people which of those he does not want to fund? Is he willing to live with the resulting overcrowding, larger class sizes and further deterioration of our infrastructure? More importantly, Gagnon never tells us what he is for. I want to know what he is willing to spend our tax dollars on.
It is very appealing to just say, “No.” But the state must set priorities and fund its obligations. If Gagnon is so intent on cutting spending I would like him to do the hard thing and tell us how.
Show us, don’t tell us
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, like every American, are priceless and unique. Their essence as living human beings is no more or less important than anyone else — created equal.
From now on, regarding COVID-19, they should stop talking to us! Not another word! Have only America and the world’s best experts, scientists, and doctors speak to us daily on everything to do with this great health, social, economic and political challenge, that all Americans and citizens of the world face. They can show us, with their silence, their unqualified support of what the experts have to say.
As our elected leaders, they should immediately set-up daily, comprehensive live video streams that are accessible to all Americans. This would show us everything they are doing to address this challenge — every meeting, every phone call, every conversation they have with experts, governors, congressmen, world leaders, corporate and financial leaders, anyone and anything having to do with COVID-19!
They should show us what they are doing every day to expedite and mobilize the resources of America to have valid and reliable testing, hospital beds, intensive care beds, respirators, with all the medical supplies, monitors, communications, and technology that America can muster, for every affected patient and family, regardless of ability to pay.
They should show us what they are doing every day to support, equip, and protect doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, administrators — as well as community health centers — in the conduct of their heroic missions. Show us what they are doing to support the development of a safe and effective vaccine for widespread inoculation. Show us what they are doing with the leaders of the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries to bring effective and affordable treatments today!
History and all of us are watching!
Reconsider public charge rule
The public charge rule, implemented on Feb. 24, 2020, can be used to deny admission to the United States, or application for a green card, to individuals who have used, or may likely apply for non-emergency Medicaid, Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy, housing assistance, and food assistance (SNAP). The direct association between public charge and disability has been made clear in countless reports and studies. It is good that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services states that it will not consider being tested or treated for COVID-19, or seeking preventive care (such as a future vaccine) as part of the new Public Charge inadmissibility determination. This will be true even if Medicaid pays for the treatment.
But while the U.S. government is making important efforts to streamline the process for U.S. citizens to apply for unemployment and for medical professionals to provide tele-health across state lines during the COVID-19 crisis, paperwork for some green card applicants, it seems, will now increase. They will have to document how any use of public benefits such as SNAP or housing assistance is a result of the “COVID-19 outbreak and recovery phase”; otherwise, using the public benefits to which they are legally entitled will be an “X” against them on their application.
Strong consideration should be made on halting or suspending the public charge rule so immigrants and immigrants with disabilities don’t fear utilizing social programs that in our current crisis are life saving and sustaining.
Protect ranked-choice voting
Step by grudging step, American democracy has become more inclusive in regards to voting, and Maine stands out among the states in this regard. Twice in the past four years, a solid majority of Mainers expanded our democracy by enacting ranked-choice voting and then used it successfully in 2018 in both federal and some state elections.
Our voices were strengthened under the ranked-choice election process, and voters appreciated the freedom to vote for the candidate, or candidates, they like the best without worrying they will help elect an unappealing one. To win elections with a majority support using a ranked-choice ballot, candidates must reach beyond their base, talk with more voters and seek wider support. Candidates with the ability to attract first and second choice rankings are more likely to build majority coalitions and govern as consensus builders.
Last fall, the Maine Legislature passed a bill which allows Mainers to use RCV in presidential elections, another first-in-the-nation advance in American democracy. Perhaps not surprisingly, there is now a people’s veto petition effort to revoke that new law.
Let’s protect ranked choice voting, again, for 2020 and beyond. Please “decline to sign” the people’s veto petitions now being circulated by the opponents of ranked-choice voting, and ask your friends and family to decline as well.