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A failure at many levels

In the Jan. 16 BDN article, “Maine may see slower COVID-19 vaccine expansion amid federal supply problems” written by Caitlin Andrews, the news that Maine will not be receiving the amount of vaccines initially ensured by the Trump administration was brought to light.

According to the Washington Post, one fifth of Maine’s population is 65 years and older, which makes Maine the highest state in elderly population. Considering the age group with the highest risk of fatality from the coronavirus is the elderly, the posed question is: why is Maine not a top priority to receive a necessary percentage of the available vaccine?

The vaccine has been in high demand in the state, and the news from the federal government is disappointing to say the least. When will state and local governments begin to take action? When will they become proactive instead of reactive to this pandemic?

Everyone knew the vaccination was going to be produced and distributed. The issue of shortage is only one problem. However, why are the medical experts in states like Maine “scrambling to schedule patients, and overwhelmed with calls? Why wasn’t a system created to handle scheduling knowing that the issue was going to present itself?

I see a failure not only from the federal government, but from everyone who is providing data but not necessary processes and implementation plans for what is now, an additional crisis.

Casey Britt


Menace to democracy

In 1933, Theodor Adorno, a scholar, a socio-political philosopher, a prominent member of the so-called Frankfurt School in Germany, and a Jew, was forced to flee his native land. After World War II, he returned to West Germany, where, as a highly respected intellectual, he was often invited to give public lectures. Many of these lectures analyzed the innate human longing for strong leadership, a longing that Adorno observed in Europe in the 1950s, but also one that has openly reappeared around the world today, in Turkey, Israel, Brazil, Russia, Hungary, the Philippines, and the United States. Wasn’t Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in the early decades of the 20th century energized by his promise to make Germany great again?

A selection of these lectures from the 1950s and 1960s has just been published under the title, “Aspects of the New Right-Wing Extremism.” The ultimate purpose of these lectures was to issue back then a warning, but this warning, I fear, has become much more timely today.

For example, in one lecture delivered in 1959, Adorno warned his listeners about the age-old human tendency to embrace autocracy: “I consider,” he said, “the survival of National Socialism [Naziism] within democracy to be potentially more menacing than the survival of fascist tendencies against democracy.”

Such a menace was brazenly displayed at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6.

William J. Murphy


County commissioners don’t speak for all of us

In 2004, the journalist Sam Smith wrote, “The best politics are a pretty poor substitute for life and the worst politics compound their felony by forcing us to leave the front stoop to do something about them. Our quarrel with the abuse of power should be not only that it is cruel and stupid but that it takes so much time away from other things — like loving and being loved, and music, and a good meal and the sunset of a gentle day.”

Last week, the Piscataquis County Commissioners posted a Resolution of Protest on the county’s website that contained falsehoods regarding pandemics and efforts to contain them. Gov. Janet Mills is not “ruling alone through the dictates of one” as those commissioners assert. She and health advisors are following guidelines that are internationally recognized as “best practices.”

The coronavirus continues to spread because those practices are being criticized and ignored. The commissioners’ protests bear the hallmarks of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which tries to dominate legislative agendas in many states. The group’s overriding mission is to reduce regulations and taxes. When the commissioners actions try to override public safety measures during a health crisis, they become, in Sam Smith’s words, “cruel and stupid.”

The commissioners contend that they were elected by “strong majorities” and therefore should be allowed to undo protective safeguards they don’t like. A strong minority of us in Piscataquis County think otherwise. The commissioners do not speak for us all.

Heidi Erspamer


Setting the agenda

The biggest topics covered in the media are the coronavirus and the election. These are both topics I find to be extremely prevalent in our world right now. The agenda-setting theory is a media theory stating that news platforms express what they believe are the most valuable. If this theory holds to be true, then it is completely understandable to prioritize these two major events, but there are also many issues that I feel need far more coverage than they currently get.

Millions of people a year are being trafficked around the world. Although news outlets discuss these issues once in a while, it doesn’t seem like they discuss it nearly enough considering its severity. When I did a search on the New York Times website, I noticed they seem to have around five times more coverage on COVID-19 compared to human trafficking. Our current pandemic deserves a lot of coverage, but trafficking should have a very similar amount of coverage.

The only reason why I know of the severity is through social media platforms. I frequently see posts talking about people’s personal experiences with trafficking and how to prevent it. If information about the prevention of trafficking was more frequently broadcasted, it could easily save a lot more lives.

If news publications were able to share more stories of current worldwide dangers such as trafficking, it could potentially bring more awareness to the public, updating their personal agendas on what else is important in the world today.

Logan Swift