Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thomas Paine speaks still

-Of what avail will be a prosperous state of commerce, when the produce of it will be at the absolute disposal of an arbitrary and unchecked government, who may levy at pleasure the most oppressive taxes; who may destroy every principle of freedom; who may even destroy the privilege of complaining.

Thomas Paine, letter to the people of Pennsylvania 11/30/1787.

I received this quote this morning while I was going over the myriad of political events that occurred the evening of 6/10. My friend Ted sent it along to me as, like I, he sees how profound a statement it really is and how easily it can be applied to today’s political climate, on all levels.

Any person with even the most basic of logic skills can see the correlation to Mr. Paine’s Observation and the results of Tuesday night’s elections as well as, the State and Federal political situation.

Look closely to the Bond that was voted in statewide and ask at what cost do we create this Prosperous state of commerce? I fully understand the need to have good roads and bridges, but do we not collect enough revenue from the taxpayers of Maine to support the maintenance of said items?

The answer is yes, but because the Legislature has pilfered the highway fund recklessly and has misspent your tax dollars on other projects we now are told that we need to borrow millions of dollars to maintain the basics. This Bond will force the legislature to impose even more taxes and fees, as a bond is a loan, a loan that bears interest and must needs be repaid. Debt is a funny thing eh?

We have already witnessed “an arbitrary and unchecked government” in the 123rd Legislature’s handling of LD2477, the Dirigo funding scheme that we are all going to suffer many years into the future. Our “Representatives” chose to ignore an insurance reform bill that would have cut costs for insurance across the board, and chose to levy at pleasure the most oppressive taxes. This act in of itself, though egregious, is not enough to shout out the axiom “Taxation without Representation” but it comes damn well close, for the people are now left with but the hopes of a petition to get a referendum on the ballot. Those in the State House who decided to tax their constituents, who are already under a terrible burden as is, did not and do not represent their people. No, this one act does not allow us to call it out, but how many more have gone before it of the same character?

One may argue that our institutions are guaranteed by the principle of checks and balances, and they would not be totally incorrect. However, when the only recourse we as citizens have left at our disposal to protect our rights, traditions, and yes money is to vote out the very same person who swore to defend and uphold our needs, I say such a situation calls into question what balance there is in our Government as a whole.

Lastly, we must look to the concept of dissent and how it is handled and perceived today. A fine example for such a discussion is the Obama campaign. I use this only because it is one of greatest practitioners of the tactics in dealing with dissent and opposing views. If you take but a moment and look locally, perhaps a town meeting, or planning board, you will more than likely see the same.

“Who may destroy every principle of freedom; who may even destroy the privilege of complaining”

The first Amendment of the Constitution guarantees our right to free speech, so long as it does not promote armed rebellion or uprising against the State or Federal Government. To dissent is as natural to Americans as is breathing, eating and being human. There have been in the past, abridgements to this most fundamental of rights passed through the Supreme Court and the Congress, but they are usually overturned by the people. For the most part though, our government shies away from questions on the First Amendment as they know how strongly Americans feel about anything that hinders their right to express themselves “Appropriately”.

Over the past 15-20 years though, the right to speak ones mind has been curtailed through the use of George Orwell’s frightening “Doublespeak” of 1984 fame. What has happened is we as a people have allowed Political Correctness to become so pervasive that to question, let’s say Barack Obama’s associations, or his anti American rhetoric, you are labeled a Racist, or Bigot. If you voice dissent over your town councils Budget proposal, you are labeled a right wing trouble maker, etc. etc. etc. These assaults on ones personal character are so common place that we now find ourselves giving due to those who deserve it not out of fear. No one wishes to be called a racist anymore than one wishes to be called a Nazi, and rightly so. However, this tactic is not only inappropriate as it makes the questions at hand personal, but also because it hinders free speech, thus undermining one of the most basic of rights we enjoy and destroying “ the privilege of complaining.”

Allow me two examples;

About a month ago I saw report on the news that stated, the African-American (Black) community would feel that if Senator Obama did not get the nomination then it would be due to racism. How so could they not only come to that conclusion, but how would they be able to prove such a factor actually caused him to lose? There is no evidence to back it up nor is their any truth to the accusation whatsoever, but there it was on national TV. The same went for Hillary’s failed campaign, the day after she acquiesced to her Party’s wishes there was a panel of women on CBS talking about how sexism was what caused her to lose.

How does this apply? By using Race as the main factor the person arguing Obama’s case places the label of possible racist on those who agree not with their views. The opposition party then must be “extra careful” not to say or discuss anything that might be remotely, and I mean remotely, construed or twisted into a racist or biased statement. The debate becomes watered down and discourse hindered as each team dances around the fringes in an attempt not to offend. I am not saying one should go out and make racist or bigoted statements, I am saying that we as a society have allowed ourselves to become so attuned to “Doublespeak” that we can find the word Articulate given as a compliment, as racist. I call this Hypersensitivity”. The same applies to the accusations of sexism in Hillary’s case. This type of behavior and societal acceptance creates a very real barrier to true honest discourse and dissent.

Even those who see this tactic for what it is, speak not often for the fear of the resulting attack that would sure to follow.

Thomas Paine’s words have truly passed the test of time, and if we look at them with common sense, another famous phrase he coined, we can take the lesson within them and try to retain the fundamental freedoms and privileges that so many have sacrificed for. Common sense is sorely lacking, but if more and more try to use it perhaps we have a fighting chance.

As my friend Carla says:

If Common sense was food, then there would be a lot of starving people around here.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Gray Town Election

Town Elections are usually overlooked by the majority of residents in communities across America. Maybe voters feel that A Town Council is of little import, or perhaps that the body of the council is nothing compared to the High Politics of State and Federal Government.

However neither of those arguments or beliefs holds water, for that which is closest to home tends to have the greatest impact on our daily lives. To ignore or neglect town elections, you as a citizen place the governance of your community at risk. The people running for office in towns all across this state will, if elected, be making decisions on such things as, Zoning regulations, Budgets and spending, and ordinances that regulate you the citizen directly. I believe there is no greater Duty for voters of any community than to look to their own first by participating in local elections.

That being said, this Tuesday June 10th is of great importance to the citizens of Gray, as their town council has two 3 year seats and one 1 year seat available. All of the candidates have their Pro’s and Con’s but I feel that there are three who stand out above the rest and who can reign in the tax and spend budget put forth by the current Council.

First and foremost is Dick Walls; Dick is running for the one year seat against Phil Pulsifer and Tracy Scheckel. Dick is an avowed fiscal conservative with a 27 year background in finances with Chrysler Financial Corporation. He has lived in Gray these 20 years past and cares deeply for the well being of the community. Mr. Walls got my vote the last time he ran in 2005when he came up to me outside the polls and introduced himself whilst all the other candidates ignored the people filing inside. Dick will serve the Town and people of Gray with an unassuming and open manner that is much needed in the councils make up. He will work hard to readjust the 18.61% increase in the budget and get the towns priorities back on track. So when you are in the booth, remember, Dick Walls for the one year seat, he won’t spend your tax dollars wastefully to be sure.

Next is Andy Upham, Andy is an incumbent for one of the three year seats. He is currently vice-chair of the council and has served our community for the past three years with integrity, determination and intelligence. Andy was one of the two current councilors who voted against the budget on the grounds that it is shortsighted and does not promote the best interests of the Town. He has been steadfast and vigorous in his advocacy for the people of Gray. Andy has 25 years in the Telecommunications business and has shown nothing but a strong fiscal conservative voting record these past three years. His quiet respectful way of discussing topics is not to be mistaken for lack of strength when he believes strongly about an issue. He will tell you what he thinks, not what you want to hear, but always with a respectful and patient tone, or so has been my experience thus far. As I admire this last quality very much, I am voting for Andy as I hope you will as well.

Last, but most definitely not Least is Marchain “Skip” Crane. Skip is another incumbent on the current council and like Andy voted against and expressed dissent over the new budget. Mr. Crane worked hard to reduce the tax burden of the citizens as well increase efficiencies, and improve services. He is another person who not only understands business, as he is a small business owner himself, but also grasps the falling real estate market and the subsequent value of our homes. Skip Crane will continue to work hard for the people of Gray if re-elected, by using his experience, intellect and common sense. Skip is a Fiscal conservative who believes strongly that we the people of Gray deserve more from our council. He has my vote, as I believe he should have yours too.

The people of Gray have a great opportunity this Tuesday with this election. By voting for, and hopefully electing, these three fine men, the citizens of our fair town can take a stand for common sense, integrity, and responsibility. As the rest of the State wanders down the path of financial chaos, Dick Walls, Andy Upham, and Marchain “Skip” Crane will help us “look to our own” by being responsible and forthright. We need not follow the path of ruin that the tax and spend policies of other communities have gone down. Please come out and vote Tuesday June 10th and help us bring the light of reason to our town.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Petitions are in.

Petitions are in…..

Well the Petitions I have been harping about have arrived and now it is Time to gather signatures.

We are petitioning to repeal the new Tax on Beer, Wine, Soda, and Insurance claims (LD2247) that our fearless leaders passed this past April.

Quite simply LD2247 means MORE TAXES for the Citizens of this State. There is no way to get around that fact or spin it into anything else. The legislature is asking for; $ 5 Million a year from the Fund for a Healthy Maine$ 3.6 Million loan from the General Fund (which will lose the people of Maine $180,000 in interest earned) $ 9.2 Million from a Soft drink Tax (this includes Soda, syrups, powdered drinks such as iced tea, and some Fruit Juices) $ 7.5 Million from a tax on Beer and Wine.$ 110 Million over the next three years from a new 1.8% “surcharge” (TAX) on paid health insurance claims

Please join me this Wednesday evening June the 4th at Gritty McDuff's fine brew pub on Route one Freeport Maine, and show your support by signing the Petition. You need only be a registered voter to add your name and voice. I’ll be at Gritty’s from 5-7:30 pm with petitions and, of course, a pint of Black fly Stout in hand.

If this gathering on Wednesday night is a success I will be attempting to set up more such events in the future.

It is of the utmost importance that we get as many signatures as possible on this petition, so I am not only asking one and all to come out and help by signing, but also for you to recruit as many friends and colleagues that you can muster and bring them along as well. We need to send a clear message to our Legislator’s that we the people of Maine can no longer support their tax and spend policies and that they need to look at other avenues of funding than our shrinking wallets.

I look forward to seeing all of my friends there as well as meeting new ones, however, if you are unable to attend but still wish to help, please comment on this posting or e-mail me and I will come to you.

Please come sign, and bring a friend or two as well, I’ll see you Wednesday night.