President Donald Trump keeps things interesting; letting things settle isn’t in his DNA – his rhetoric continues to spark protests and general malaise in the streets, and in our financial markets, daily.

With the economy firing on all cylinders, one might just ride that horse. Instead, firing key members of his administration, forcing others to quit, and finding replacements that fit his “America First” mantra have many, including those in the stock market, scared of the uncertainty.

Tariffs and picking a fight with China seem ill-advised; it will not serve “America First” if China’s response (which it will be) is to go tit-for-tat with tariffs of its own that increase costs for goods and materials in America and stoke the fires of inflation. Should we be playing with matches?

While playing well to his base, others fear war, financial havoc and see general upheaval as subterfuge to block out marital affairs and the Russian investigation. The strategy is to create so many side distractions that big issues get lost in the deluge.

***

The headline “Tax breaks for lawyers” in last week’s Free Press caught my eye. The overwhelming vote (117 to 23) in the Maine Legislature gave a $6,000 income credit to Maine attorneys. What? Reading the explanation by Andy O’Brien, it became palatable as Andy wrote the credit would be for attorneys who agreed to practice in underserved areas of Maine. It came with checks and balances and restrictions to fit commonsense rules of thumb. Never thought it might be a good idea, or necessary, to subsidize attorneys. Proves you might not want to say “never-ever” to anything.

***

There was a memo from Maine Attorney General Janet Mills supporting a bill that would permanently ban “conversion therapy” because “this barbaric practice has been proven to place LGBT children and teenagers at an increased risk for depression, anxiety, drugs, homelessness and suicide.”

The idea that we control our sexual orientation seems misplaced; in third grade the beautiful red-headed Miss Simmons was my first memory of desire. No amount of conversion therapy changes who turns us on; it is part of the natural order – no matter what your preference, your body is your guide.

Telling someone that the way they are hard-wired is wrong or immoral misses the mark. It creates shame in those who are beautifully different. And why?

***

The voters passed a minimum-wage increase to $12 last election; recently Republican Joel Stetkis of Canaan introduced a bill to reduce it and slow its implementation, also creating a provision for employees under 18 to be paid 80 percent of minimum wage for their first 200 hours of work.

Undermining the voters’ referendum feels wrong — lowering the minimum wage and slowing it down doesn’t jive with the citizens’ vote. If our legislators had done their job originally, the referendum wouldn’t have been necessary and this plan might have filled the bill – however, that ship has sailed.

Individually, some of this makes sense; tying it all together in one bill does not.

The provision for workers under 18 being paid a training wage has merit and should be dealt with on a standalone basis; not tied to other things – didn’t we learn from the tip-credit debacle?

The idea of lowering minimum wage from what was voted seems misguided; if slowing it down were the plan, perhaps a discussion that showed a good reason for it could be considered as a separate bill.

Putting all three issues into the same bill muddies the waters.

***

Pearl Benjamin followed her op-ed in last week's Camden Herald with an opinion column that continues to follow the guidelines of common sense.

This young woman (a sophomore at Camden Hills) writes with poise and elegance; and people are listening – her column was the most read, easily outdistancing all adult columnists this week, by a factor of 10 or more..

Having a voice and using it for “good” is what she is doing; can she, and will she, keep it up is the question. Time will answer that for Pearl and her fellow students as their movement continues; where will it pivot next?

What’s beautiful about Pearl is her sensibility; it is not naïve, rather it is hopeful and strong. She is not a hater and she does not want to take guns away from law-abiding citizens. She is willing to call out the crass man who shouted “That sign is not going to protect you when someone breaks into your house” during the moment of silence for 17 murdered students from Parkland, Fla., or those who posted inappropriately on Facebook.

Pearl makes the commonsense arguments that banning assault weapons is the meat issue, not taking away hunting rifles or handguns used to protect their owners.

Here is a link to that column:

https://knox.villagesoup.com/p/the-gun-control-debate-is-over/1733153?source=

“While gun owners have the right to bear arms, students should have the right to bear dreams.”