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  • Published
    January 14, 2020

    Health care from the Wizard of Oz

    When Paul LePage became governor in 2011, infant mortality in Maine tracked the U.S. average. Nearly 13,000 babies were born here each year and around 75 of them died before their first birthday. By the time LePage left office, infant deaths had risen substantially; in Lincoln and Waldo Counties, they almost doubled. Infant mortality is a highly sensitive indicator of how our health care system – and our overall …

  • Published
    December 23, 2019

    Some seasonal thoughts

    Our annual celebration of the birth of Jesus always makes me wonder what kind of a country we are. The Christian Right claims ownership of the American brand, and they provide unflagging support to one of the most ungodly human beings ever elected to public office. But they demonize other political leaders who espouse behavior taught by Jesus Christ. I can’t help but return to the age-old question, “Was Jesus a …

  • Published
    December 18, 2019

    Paying the corporate tax on health care

    Two weeks ago, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that more working-age people in Maine are dying than in most other states. Since 2010, midlife mortality here has risen by a record-breaking 21 percent; as many as 500 people have died prematurely. Drug overdoses, alcoholism, suicides – “diseases of despair” – have taken a heavy toll, made worse by limited access to health care. According to …

  • Published
    December 5, 2019

    Energy conservation and the climate crisis

    In a recent “Deep State” article, Free Press reporter Lance Tapley argued that energy conservation could help us get off “the road to world ruin” from global warming. Burning less fossil fuel, he writes, will reduce carbon emissions, a primary cause of climate change. Without question, conservation needs to be back on the table. Who but car and oil companies would oppose better mass transit? Who would object to …

  • Published
    November 20, 2019

    Poverty isn’t partisan – or is it?

    In this hyper-charged political environment, we’ve heard that criticism of the President is treason, opposition is partisan posturing, election campaigns never end, and the news media are biased and they can’t be trusted. It’s no wonder that many Americans have just given up in disgust about the news out of Washington – even up here in Midcoast Maine, where it all can seem so far away. But unfortunately, we can’t …

  • Published
    October 31, 2019

    Veterans Day

    On Nov. 11, Veterans Day, take a look at one of those Civil War statues and ask yourself: What did those men fight for? We should all be grateful for Maine’s role in freeing our country from slavery. Before the war ended, 70,000 farm boys and lumbermen and sailors and shopkeepers – including one-quarter of Knox County’s population – went off to defeat the Slave Power. Today, we need to recall their sacrifices. In …

  • Published
    October 22, 2019

    Closer than you think: Maine and California

    Reading about the recent wildfires in California, it’s hard to avoid drawing parallels between Pacific Gas and Electric Company to our own CMP. Both companies botched installing new technology that caused a lot of trouble. Both companies used their ratepayers’ money to pump up stock prices instead of fixing the problems. Both companies then asked the Public Utilities Commission for rate increases to “attract …

  • Published
    October 10, 2019

    The power of money

    Americans pride ourselves on having the best quality of life, the best political and economic system, the best future for our children. But does that mean our union is perfect? Now, more than ever in my baby-boomer lifetime, it seems urgent to ask ourselves some tough questions. Why is it that many basic goods like electric power are provided by private, profit-making companies? Why are essential services like …

  • Published
    September 26, 2019

    Thompson Murch: Rockland's labor congressman

    Few people remember that a Knox County labor leader became Maine’s first progressive congressman. In 1877, Thompson H. Murch cofounded the Granite Cutters International Union in Rockland. He was 39 years old and had been a stonecutter on Dix Island (off South Thomaston) for 18 years. In 1878, he was elected to Congress as a member of the Greenback Labor Party. Greenbackers brought together farmers and workers who …

  • Published
    September 12, 2019

    Hello, Gilded Age — we're back!

    In the early 1900s, Rockland, Bath, Lewiston and Portland were major centers of labor conflict in Maine. Among other reforms, union members wanted young children to attend school. For years, men of property fought back, arguing that mandatory schooling burdened poor families and infringed on their freedom. How could they feed themselves if their kids didn’t work in the mills? That was the choice they offered: …

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