Voting by mail
Protecting our democracy should be a nonpartisan issue. What is Sen. Susan Collins doing to force Mitch McConnell to stop blocking a vote on the Wyden-Klobuchar bill that allows nationwide voting by mail?
Maybe if many of us ask her, she will do something. Call her D.C. office and ask.
Contribute what you can
If you are a BDN subscriber, you already know of the new financial difficulties that the COVID-19 pandemic has added to the struggles of keeping a daily newspaper afloat: when businesses can’t do business, they can’t afford to advertise. Subscribers received the following plea from the president of the BDN, Todd Benoit:
“We ask that you support the public-service mission of the Bangor Daily News by making an additional donation. Your donation — of any amount — will go directly to support the newsroom. We can’t do this without you.”
We are all uncertain about what the future will bring in this age of pandemics. But we do know that we will always need dedicated journalists to bring the real news to us. Although not as life threatening as the lack of face masks and ventilators are right now, a healthy community requires a reliable, well-rounded and independent news source to help us stay informed and examine the facts. I’m dropping my check in the mail. If you read the BDN, contribute whatever you can.
The jury is still out
COVID-19 infections will no doubt decrease for a time as a result of the “social distancing” recommended — or in more positive situations, demanded — across the country. However, given the current lack of an effective vaccine, and the continuing lack of PPE equipment, it will certainly be back in force at all levels of society.
The question is whether our elected “representatives” — who we elected to understand and protect our interests — can get beyond political bickering in support of their own jobs and help save the lives of those who elected them. Today, the jury is still out. Let’s hope it comes back tomorrow with a rational and humane conclusion.
Acting like a wartime president
President Trump calls himself a ” wartime president” while at the same time saying that the federal government’s role in procuring medical supplies to fight the pandemic is to be a ” back-up” to the states. This is tantamount to expecting each state to fight a war independently.
A true wartime president would unify the country with a clear national response. To be considered a wartime president, it is necessary to act like one.
Neoliberalism and the coronavirus
Neoliberalism, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, is “most commonly associated with laissez-faire economics.” It is an ideology largely including practices like trickle-down economics, elimination of price controls, austerity and privatization of essential services. This concept has been around since the 1970s, but its practice haunts us today.
The economics encompassed within this ideology limits purchasing power to only a selected group. Those financially secure in uncertain times can shoulder the extra expenses, but those that do not have adequate finances or health care, those self-employed and underemployed, are finding themselves in dire circumstances. The question is, how is this approach playing out during the COVID-19 Pandemic?
In the past, the National Defense Production Act had been invoked in times of crisis to rally the people and all our resources as one country to get a job done. However, this act was not utilized until late in the current battle due to the president’s neoliberal view s.
Companies like Amazon apparently expect workers to stay on the job without adequate health and safety protections. Essential employees, including health care workers, are not provided with adequate personal protection equipment.
Testing kits are difficult to find and still in short supply, and many people are waiting or have been denied testing due to the rationing of kits.
Without adequate oversight and responsibility from Washington, price gouging and hoarding continues, supply chains are moving goods to the highest bidders, and states now compete against each other to purchase life-saving protection. Where is our common good in the face of a war? Rosie the Riveter surely would not approve.
Many would say that this approach is not serving the people of the United States at all. This free market economy might actually kill many of us.
A stronger response
In order to avoid the job loss which accompanied the Great Depression, President Trump needs to quickly introduce a more comprehensive response to the coronavirus crisis. In other parts of the world, governments are protecting employment. Workers keep their jobs, even in industries that are shut down. The government covers most of their wages through direct payments to employers. Wages are, in effect, being paid for the duration of the crisis.
Joe Biden has proposed measures that offer greater protection of employees during the shutdown. The bill passed last month provided wage support for the airlines. The Trump Administration could easily have proposed extending this program to other sectors.
As Americans are rapidly losing their jobs, many workers are also losing their employer-provided health insurance. The bill signed by the president last month will not reduce co-pays, deductibles or premiums on the insurance exchanges. The next bill must also include a “covidcare for all” program.
James M. Moore
There shouldn’t be a bidding war
In regard to the April 5 story in the BDN, “US wasted months before preparing for virus pandemic,” I believe it is criminal that private companies are setting state against state in a bidding war for ventilators. All of Maine’s congressional delegation must immediately call on the Trump administration to seize all ventilators nationwide and distribute them to where they are most needed.
All companies that did not engage in price gouging can then be reimbursed at fair market price for their ventilators. And those that did engage in price gouging should be grateful if they’re not prosecuted and thrown in prison.