Monthly Archives: January 2012
I have cancer and although that may be what I end up dying of, it is not what will have killed me.
What will have killed me is the poverty of being a working single parent. I worked as a nurse and I was often working per diem because there was no daycare available on weekends and holidays for people who have to work holidays and weekend shifts but per diem work has no benefits however we had enough money to get by on. Even when I did have insurance I was not able to use it as there was no support system in place to help me with my sons or sufficient funds to tide us over, if I could not work because of being sick. So I have worked until I can no longer work and now have advanced cancer.
My grandmother, a poor immigrant woman who was an immigrant coal miner’s wife died from the same disease –poverty that precludes adequate health care. Her story and my story are just two in a litany of millions.
Our stories are testaments to the lack of care that this society provides to its most vulnerable.
My story is the story of millions of women who end up being single parents, like me, through divorce. They are working mothers who have a lack of social networks to fall back on and are often viewed as pariahs by family, friends, society and the church. They work and fall through the cracks for any other help, their children are latchkey children and when the children have problems it is because they come from single parent families; every day of our lives we have had to face the prejudice of stereotypes.
And still we along with the elderly, the poor, the mentally ill, the homeless the unemployed and those living on marginal wages suffer with the blatant stereotypes that fuel the lies of politicians who want to cut social services so the rich can hold on to their extra millions.
From Dirigo Blue http://www.dirigoblue.com/2012/01/support-maine-loggers-2/
By Shelly MT On January 17, 2012 At 4:00 pm
MPBN reported Friday that Maine Labor Commissioner, Robe
MPBN reported Friday that Maine Labor Commissioner, Robert Winglass, had waived the fines that he had imposed on Pepin Lumber and Les Transport Regi, Inc. for violating Maine law. These logging companies had failed to notify the Labor Department that they were using Canadian loggers and had failed to provide documentation that the equipment they were using to harvest Maine wood is actually registered inMaine. Commissioner Winglass waived the fines even though he acknowledged that Pepin and Regi had violated the law. Their attorney argued that the administrative requirements of the law and the subsequent fines for violating it were “a drain on his clients.” That is why Winglass waived the fines.
Of course the fines would have been a drain on Pepin and Regi. The purpose of a fine is to present a deterrent to violating the law. The cost of violating law needs to be more than the cost of complying with it or some people will just flaunt the law as Pepin and Regi did. The lesson here is that if you don’t agree with a law or you are administratively too lazy to follow it you don’t have to. My husband and I own a log truck. The administrative requirements and the fees for registering our truck are a drain on us. If we just decide not to register it and continue to use it on Maine roads will the Transportation Commissioner waive any fines that we incur?
The real issue here is that the LePage administration and the Maine Forest Products Council (MFPC) believe that contractors should be allowed to hire Canadian labor over more expensive Maine labor. MFPC executive director Peter Strauch said on MPBN, “I don’t think we have a wood supply shortage. We have a wood harvesting capacity shortage. In certain areas there aren’t enough people to harvest the wood.” I reject that idea. I have known too many loggers who have been forced to go out of business, not because they are unwilling to go to where there is work as MFPC and the Governor have suggested but because they cannot afford to stay in business. The continued advocacy by MFPC and the Governor’s administration of foreign labor over Maine loggers will not strengthen one of the few remaining employment opportunities available to Northern Maine youth.
MFPC spends a lot of energy and resources lobbying for legislation that would make it easier to hire more Canadian loggers. Preference for cheaper foreign labor artificially lowers the wages for Maine loggers and ensures that there will be fewer of them in the future. A strong forestry industry is important to the economic health of Maine. MFPC should be working collaboratively with Maine loggers to understand and improve the circumstances that allow Canadian loggers to log cheaper. Some of those circumstances are:
- Fuel prices – Diesel fuel continues to surpass gasoline in price. Logging equipment requires a lot of fuel and almost all of it runs on diesel. Earlier this month the governor vetoed a bill that would have provided loggers a tax break on fuel.
- Financing – Financing for newer equipment continues to be difficult to obtain. Older equipment is more expensive to run and breakdowns mean that loggers are in the garage not in the woods. The derisive comments that the MFPC, Governor, and some legislators have made will negatively impact the ability of Maine loggers to secure financing.
- Health Care – Most loggers must buy health insurance on the individual market. That is the most expensive way to buy it and often the only affordable policies have high deductibles which means that they must also pay for the majority of their families’ healthcare out of pocket. This situation will continue to worsen because the Maine healthcare bill that was passed last year allows insurance companies to charge higher rates for high risk occupations and higher rates for rural residents. Most loggers fit into both of those categories. Canadians have universal healthcare. Their healthcare costs are much less and are not based on their occupation or geographic location.
Senator Troy Jackson has asked Governor LePage to meet with loggers and discuss some of these issues but the Governor has refused. As long as he is only listening to the Maine Forest Products Council, whose priority is cheap labor, opportunities for Maine residents to have professional careers in the logging industry will continue to diminish.
Did you see Bill Moyers last evening? He has returned to do a show on MPBN every Sunday at 6. He interviewed two men who have written a book about the huge inequality gap and the fact that it did not just happen; it was engineered by the government. The facts are very dire and reconfirm what I have feared for some time now. The occupy movement was mentioned and the last portion of the show highlighted it with interviews of people at Occupy Wallstreet. The next two weeks will continue this discussion. Bill mentioned that it is too early to tell if the Occupy movement is just a cry of pain that will not have a lasting effect or if it will turn us around such as the suffragette movement, the civil rights movements and the labor movement did. We are no longer a democracy. As a matter of fact the authors pointed out that we are on our way to being a third world government and are on par at the moment with Egypt. It is truly scary. Another thing the authors mentioned is that one of the reasons it has been allowed to happen is that we have lost our sense of outrage, hear, hear.
This is a letter about to be submitted to our local paper in Portsmouth but would apply in Maine since I use the state as a (bad) example — feel free to use any of it Thomas Clairmont MD
Chair, Granite State Physicians for a National Health Program
Celebrating Martin Luther King day should lead us to review some of what this great man said. “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” With 65,000 Maine citizens about to be ejected from their Medicaid insurance, and 3,500 New Hampshire citizens with Medicaid eliminated from practices at Lakes Region Hospital, the time is long past to solve injustice in health care. You wouldn’t know it from the recent primary where the only “plan” to help you with health care was to repeal President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and replace it with … NOTHING.
“The time is always right to do the right thing.” Dr Wennberg at Dartmouth has shown a way to “cut costs by 40%, enough to cover every uninsured person in the United States”. Dr Himmelstein of Physicians for a National Health Program has shown that “if we cut our bureaucratic costs to Canadian levels, we’d save nearly $400 billion annually — more than enough to cover the uninsured and to eliminate co-payments and deductibles for all Americans”. Harvard Economics Professor Hsaio demonstrates “our research and analysis shows that a single-payer system can immediately reduce health care costs in Vermont by 8-12% and reduce health care costs by an additional 12-14% over time.”
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”. We say that health care is a human right and every citizen should be fully covered. How about you?
Published in The Star Herald, Wednesday, January 11, 2012
by Zach Lowry, profile at https://www.facebook.com/zacharylowry
January 11, 2012
Three months ago, sparked by the audacity of a small group of campers, the occupy movement took the country by storm. Encampments and protests materialized in virtually every city across the country. The responses and criticisms were loud and immediate: Who are these lazy hippies? Why are they protesting? Why won’t they get a job? Since the movement began, it has been marred by misunderstanding, misrepresentation, and a faulty perception of the economic and political situation we find ourselves in. As a member of Occupy Aroostook and the 99%, it is my intent to clear up these misunderstanding and hopefully persuade you to consider the situation through our eyes.
In 2008, The United States, and indeed the world, was hit by a devastating financial crisis. Millions lost their savings, their jobs, and their sense of dignity, being evicted from their homes because of a systemic error. The banks and key players who, in collusion with the state, triggered this crisis were bailed out. Trillions of dollars were given to calm the markets, and it worked—corporations and the wealthiest of Americans are back to making record profits. Meanwhile, onMain Street, there has been no recovery—no bailout. Poverty rates have soared, actual U6 unemployment is still in the area of 16%, and the cost of living has flown upwards, caused in part by emergency printing by the Federal Reserve. What, then, do the politicians discuss? What do our elected representatives advocate? Austerity. Deficits and increased debt resulting from the crisis have been dealt with, not by increased taxes on those enjoying record profits and bonuses thanks to the government, but by slashing funding for survival—Social Security the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and so on.
Undoubtedly, this crisis and these cuts affect the poorest and eldest of Americans most of all. Students, however, bear a more subtle, but equally as blunt, blow—a broken promise. From the time they were in Kindergarten, students were told, if they worked hard, got the best grades, and made themselves as busy as possible, they could go to the best college and later get the best job. And so many of them tried just that. Countless late- night study sessions, research papers, and thousands of dollars of debt later, they graduate from college–and move back in with their parents. If a student is lucky enough to find a job, it will often be in a field unrelated to his or her major. Now, without a job, they will have to repay the debts they have incurred. They will never be able to discharge it through bankruptcy. If it must, it will follow them their entire lives until they reach retirement age, at which point it will be deducted from their Social Security, assuming, of course, it still exists by then. That thing they were promised—the “American dream”—is gone. It never existed. Their future, our future, was plundered over generations, not just by the pyramid scheme called theUSeconomy, but by irresponsible government spending caused by a bloated military budget and foreign wars.
War, yes war—war on everything. War inIraq. War inAfghanistan. War on terror. Billions are spent every year on meaningless conflicts that do not benefit the average American. We have sacrificed ourselves, our friends, our family, and our civil liberties to these snipe-hunts, and for what? Freedom? It can’t be that—we’ve lost a considerable amount of it since the wars began. Security? From whom? Despite widespread opposition to these military actions, it took the government almost nine years to end just one. Even now, the war drums are beating again as politicians eagerly discuss a possible strike onIran. Despite the current widespread unemployment and suffering, our “leaders” can only prepare for their next conquest. The only war that has clearly been abandoned inAmericais the war on poverty.
Our problems are far reaching, to be sure, so how do we fix them? We recognize the futility of seeking a party leader to save us. The Democratic and Republican Parties have no solutions, only empty rhetoric and economic fallacies. They are the same leaders who have betrayed us. It is our intent, then, to make no demands. A demand implies the dependency on the very political system that got us where we are. It implies there is someone in government to turn to. There is not. Instead, we will do it ourselves. We will occupy. We will resist. We will produce. Our country and our world is a mess, and, just like our problems, this movement is not going anywhere anytime soon.
FROM DIRIGO BLUE
By Shelly Mountain, profile at https://www.facebook.com/people/Shelly-Mountain/100000815733559#!/people/Shelly-Mountain/100000815733559?sk=info
On December 28, 2011 At 10:59 am
Steve Farnham, director of the Aroostook Area Agency on Aging, talked about the purpose of the meeting and offered Governor LePage an opportunity to make opening remarks. LePage declined and said he preferred to make some closing remarks.
Peter Edgecomb (R– Caribou) was introduced first and got up to say that smaller cuts across the board in all departments were not possible but he did not explain why. John Martin (D- Eagle Lake) spoke about the possibility of getting federal funding to keep the PNMIs open, if the state labeled them as something else.
Bernard Ayotte (R – Caswell) told us that there was “fraud in the system and that no one was going to be turned out into the street”. He didn’t explain how it would be avoided, but that “we must trust the Governor, that he knew the Governor to be a good man who would not do that.” Alexander Willette (R – Mapleton) echoed Ayotte’s thoughts. He didn’t know what was going to happen, but we must trust the Governor.
Ken Theriualt (D – Madawaska) spoke about how important the well-being of his constituents is.
Troy Jackson (D – Allagash) was unable to attend but his son, Chace Joe Jackson, was there to speak for him. Chace told us that his father was very concerned and unsupportive of the cuts.
The first question was directed toward Representative Ayotte, asking for specific examples of fraud. Ayotte got up to speak, but LePage beat him to the microphone. He did not give it up to any of the representatives again, except for a brief moment when I asked a question of Alex Willette. LePage spoke anecdotally about fraud he had heard about.
LePage appeared very angry from the beginning and talked about how he resented the report at Christmastime that “elderly were going to be turned out into the cold”. He felt that a director who would say something like that at Christmastime should be fired by his board. He was probably talking about Steve Farnham.
LePage threatened that if the Mainecare cuts were not made all the schools in Maine would be closed April 1. He said the current cuts could have been avoided if the legislature hadn’t “kicked the can down the road.”
When asked about the Canadian bonded labor program and Canadian loggers being hired over Maine loggers, LePage responded that the mills could not get wood to run their mills. He mentioned the Millinocket mill specifically. I told him that Millinocket didn’t have wood because they were refusing to buy Maine wood in favor of wood from New Hampshire, which is where the owners are based. I pointed out that Maine trucks were being sent home because of it.
Chace Jackson asked him about the legislation that will be coming up this session that would make it easier to hire Canadian loggers and would allow Canadian loggers to draw unemployment from the state of Maine. LePage said he was unaware of that legislation. This is the same legislation that was tabled from the last session and the same legislation I asked him about during his town hall meeting in Presque Isle this past August.
LePage was asked several times if he was willing to give up his own government subsidized housing and his own government subsidized healthcare to reduce the cuts to the elderly. He just laughed at the idea and pointed out that the Governor of Maine is paid the least of any of the governors including, “the islands”.
Judy Paradis, who served in the legislature for 14 years, asked LePage why he wasn’t a better cheerleader for the hardworking people of Maine when he had the national spotlight. He responded, “Lady, I don’t know what planet you are from.” I asked him right away to apologize to her. He ignored me. Later her husband got up to speak about her and ask that LePage apologize. LePage turned his back on Mr. Paradis and walked away. I asked him if he was going to apologize to Judy. He said, “No, I am not.”
The governor’s attitude throughout was insulting and patronizing. This was supposed to be a listening session for citizens to express to the representatives their concerns about how cuts would affect them. The governor wasn’t even invited originally. When he heard about it, he insisted that he participate. The representatives were not allowed much opportunity to speak and LePage often interrupted citizens when they were speaking. This prompted some audience members to demand he listen to people.
LePage has now backed out of his commitment to participate in the sessions in Presque Isle and Houlton. That may allow those sessions to be more productive and allow people a better opportunity to be heard.
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