Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I recently had an e-mail exchange with my state representative about a bill that, if passed to become law, would eventually provide as much as $21,000 in tax cuts per year to the richest 1%.  In addition, this bill would reduce revenues which would inevitably reduce spending on critical, even life-saving services provided in the social safety net.   Such cuts are already happening.  I recently talked to a local Mother whose son with long-term schizophrenia will no longer receive guardianship services he has been receiving for years that have kept him relatively stable.  As a mother myself of a son disabled with serious and chronic schizo-affective disorder, I know up close the effects of cuts in services to the well-being of these people and their families.   

In responding to my request that my representative vote "No," he replied, "The argument about tax breaks going dis-proportionally to the wealthy, well that is an argument that is not founded on sound math. It only makes sense that those who pay the lion's share of a tax, get a larger tax break when the time comes for tax breaks, but that is a philosophical difference that I feel we will never be able to overcome."

I am not philosophically opposed to corporations as such, nor profit, nor CEO salaries that reflect ability, knowledge, and hard work.  I am philosophically opposed to greed.  As a teacher, I routinely worked 60 to 80 hours a week when school was in session.  When it was not in session, my time was more relaxed, and I could squeeze in some vacation time some years around course work for recertification,  research to stay up to date, and preparation for the following school session.  Toward the end of full-time teaching, I earned about $40,000 a year, and I felt rich. By "philosophical difference," I hope my representative does not really mean to suggest that he believes a CEO who earns millions every year is worth that much more in salary and thus deserving of that much more in tax breaks than the teacher who teaches his children, or the nurse who cares for him in recovery from open-heart surgery, or the skilled mechanic who keeps his automobiles in top-notch working order, or any other worker who works comparable hours as the CEO and has comparable training, knowledge, and abilities in her own profession.  

I recently reread the U. S. Constitution.  Nowhere in that document, nor in the Declaration of Independence do I find justification for the kind of gap between the rich and the rest of us that we find in our current economic climate.  What I do find are phrases that philosophically support a more equitable distribution of wealth than we have actually ever had:  “All . . . are created equal . . . endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights . . . to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;”  “Promote the general welfare;” “Provide for the general welfare.”   

I have other sources for my opposition to legislative actions such as ME  LD 849 that promotes and enables greed, sources such as literature from major religions of the world.  From http://www.christian-wisdom.com/money/0/quote-category.html "If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered" -Proverbs 21:13.  "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy" -Proverbs 31:8-9.  "No one can serve two masters. . . . You cannot serve both God and Money" -Matthew 6:24. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" -Matthew 19:23-24.  From  http://www.buddhaquotes.co.uk/All-Buddha-Quotes/?keyword=poverty  Buddha Quote #368 - "There can be no peace as long as there is grinding poverty." From Prophet Muhammad, http://www.jubileeusa.org/get-active/jubilee-congregations/islamic-resources/islamic-quotations-on-responding-to-poverty.html:  “He who sleeps on a full stomach whilst his neighbour goes hungry is not one of us.”  "Acknowledge the rights of the poor, neighbors and beggars.”

I think I must be missing something about where my representative is coming from philosophically.  I asked him to please explain. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: On the Occasion of Your Fund Raiser in Maine

March 31, 2012

Dear President Obama,

In the 2008 election, I supported you with the kind of enthusiasm I hadn’t felt since the first vote I cast for president in 1960 for John F. Kennedy.  By the time you came to Maine prior to mid-term elections in 2010, I was spending a great deal of my new retirement time in rallies, marches, letters, and other grunt  work for peace, for the Democratic  Party, and especially for a national single-payer, universal health-care plan.  When it looked like that wasn’t going to happen with the Affordable Health Care Bill, I shifted my activist attention to the public option. 

I received an invitation to attend your appearance in Portland that year.  I didn’t ask for it, wasn’t expecting it, and didn’t greet the prospect with much passion.  It’s a long drive to Portland, but to support the Democratic Party and you, I accepted.  It was a miserable experience.  We got in a line of hundreds and waited, and waited, and waited while others streamed in ahead of us without any wait.  There were some grumblings in the line about the color-coded tickets that allowed this to happen, but for the most part we waited patiently and courteously.  When we did start to move, the line soon stopped leaving most of us unable to get in.  The only explanation we ever got for what happened there was that the president arrived, and the doors had to be locked as soon as he entered the building.  No one ever explained before or after about the color coding of tickets or that many of us were invited without any possibility of getting in.  No one ever apologized.  No one ever confirmed or denied the suspicion that many, if not most, of the people streaming in ahead of the ones who waited were major campaign contributors.

Since that happened, the public option was abandoned; we are still at war; I, a retired teacher, along with all other retired public employees in Maine have seen devastating cuts in human services and our pensions permanently eroded by a COLA freeze while the richest 1% are given ever-increasing tax breaks; the Supreme Court decision that corporations are people and money is speech continues to do its dirty work with our electoral process, and you reap political benefits of that decision.

I hope you can understand why I believe that the people who have any significant access or influence to our leadership, whether Republican or Democratic, are the 1% with greed for profit as their only interest.  I hope you can understand why I am protesting your current appearance in Maine where you openly court the 1% and where the Democratic Party that I have been loyal to all of my adult life openly enables and celebrates that courtship.  While I will likely vote for you in November—I certainly won’t vote Republican—I hope you can understand why I will be turning my major attention away from the current political system that has become so morally bankrupt and so dependent on Corporate greed and toward the Occupy movement that is the only hope I can see on the horizon.  I write this not because I expect you to listen to one lone voice, but because I hope you will understand that there are millions of us—and our numbers are growing—who are looking and working for justice and sustainable alternatives for all the people.

Alice Bolstridge

Zachary Lowry