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  • Published
    March 9, 2012

    Snowe’s claim that Congress is like a parliament has basis in recent history

    Last week, Sen. Olympia Snowe said, “We are becoming more like a parliamentary system, where everyone simply votes with their party and those in charge employ every possible tactic to block the other side.” The essence of the parliamentary system, as it is practiced in Canada, Great Britain and most other major democracies, is party discipline. Legislators must support their leaders, whatever their own political …

  • Published
    February 24, 2012

    Energy independence for U.S., Maine comes at a price

    Just a few months ago, almost nobody talked about the Strait of Hormuz, much less worried about its effect on our lives. Now, Iran threatens to close that narrow stretch of water in the Middle East. It’s the latest move in a growing international conflict over Iran’s possible development of a nuclear weapon. If the Strait is closed, the world could lose as much as one-fifth of its oil supply. Since the 1970s, the …

  • Published
    February 10, 2012

    Maine’s GOP caucuses may matter in presidential race

    The next big splash in the Republican presidential season will come on March 6, called “Super Tuesday,” when more GOP convention delegates will be selected than on any other single day. In the meantime, the action turns from high-cost primaries to state caucuses, which are a relative bargain. In February, there will be a few caucuses, which are gatherings of the party faithful to record their presidential …

  • Published
    January 27, 2012

    LePage’s sales tax veto sheds light on issue of exemptions

    The sales tax is one of the touchiest political issues. Unlike income or property tax, just about everybody pays it: rich and poor, resident and visitor — even the teenager who eats at McDonald’s. Almost every time a change to it is proposed, it sets off controversy. Recently, Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bill to exempt nonprofit performing arts organizations from paying a sales tax on goods and services, similar to …

  • Published
    January 20, 2012

    Maine, the oldest state: causes and possible cures

    Maine is the oldest state in the Union. That simple statement may send an important message about efforts to keep or bring young people to the state. It could be a tough task, and it could be one doomed to fail. When the standard is median age — the age at which half the population is younger and half is older — Maine has the highest age. And the six New England states all rank among the nine oldest in the …

  • Published
    December 30, 2011

    Separating dollars and cents facts from myths

    The end of the year is a good time to correct some myths recently in the news. 1. Unemployment has never been so high for this long. For one thing, unemployment has been much higher – about 25 percent during the Great Depression of the 1930s. And back then it was above the current levels of about 9 percent for 12 years. In the current recession, serious as it is, the 9 percent rate has lasted for only three …

  • Published
    December 16, 2011

    LePage MaineCare plan shows problems of containing any entitlement program

    Trying to strike a balance between cutting government programs and finding money to pay for essential services can be dangerous. Dangerous for the office holders, who have to decide what to cut and the taxes to pay for the rest. Dangerous for the people who are truly dependent on government help for basic health care. Nothing illustrates the problem better than the health and human services cuts that Gov. …

  • Published
    November 30, 2011

    What Maine could do to minimize winter power outages

    In the last three months, three storms have blacked out tens of thousands of electric customers in New England. Mayors can lose elections because of poor snow plowing, but can utility executives lose their jobs because of power outages? The president of Connecticut Light & Power, the largest electric company in the Nutmeg State, found out. He was forced to resign after his company was slow to return homes to …

  • Published
    November 17, 2011

    Trouble is contagious: How Europe’s financial woes threaten U.S. recovery

    Greece, Italy, much of the rest of Europe and the euro are big news these days. Why should Mainers or other Americans care? Don’t we have enough of our own problems? The answer is that, while we have made-in-U.S.A. problems, they risk getting worse if the financial situation in Europe continues to deteriorate. Economists are increasingly looking back at how that happened once before, creating the Great …

  • Published
    November 4, 2011

    Election Day registration encourages voting; fraud has been hard to find

    Should we make voting as easy as possible so that more people will vote? If we make voting easier, will many ineligible people vote? When Maine votes on Nov. 8 on Question 1 — deciding whether to overturn the Legislature’s plan to end voter registration on future election days — it will answer these two questions. In recent decades, Maine has allowed people to register to vote on Election Day, eliminating …

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