Nancy Oden

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Machias Valley News Observer, May 8, 2009

NEWS with VIEWS

by Nancy Oden

May We All Survive & Thrive

Because so many people are losing their jobs, elected officials are under heavy pressure to “DO SOMETHING.” Truth be told, there’s not much they can do.

Corporations control our economy and decide when to shut down. No one should ever think they “care” about us. It’s all about money in the CEO’s pockets, not our welfare.

Washington County’s legislative delegation, county commissioners, town officials, et al, are holding lots of meetings trying to help those laid off, mostly to no avail.

We’ll have to take care of ourselves, not depend on out-of-state or foreign corporations. We need to tighten up our houses, grow our own food (need more small farmers), and re-learn self-sufficiency skills.

Will Domtar come back? My guess is no. Will the Port of Eastport get new, steady clients, making it worthwhile to run? Maybe, but unlikely.

Should another airport be built in Marshfield-Northfield? Of course not. That’s just another empire-building ploy. Aren’t we trying to get off of fossil fuels? Airports are huge creators of contaminates which get into water supplies, and there is NO ONE who says they will come here if we build an expensive airport and maintain it just for them.

Frustration among elected officials is mounting. It’s clear that using the same, old model of bribing corporations with taxpayers’ money isn’t working anymore.

As the economic crises deepen, tempers are flashing and scapegoats are being sought. Commissioner Chris Gardner, who chairs the Commission, is also director of the Port of Eastport, and chair of the Washington County Republicans, all of which is a lot of responsibility, perhaps too much, and the pressure is beginning to tell.

He lost his temper at last Thursday’s meeting and ranted on for a while about last week’s MVNO column by this commentator.

Apparently he just needed to blow off steam and ease his frustration at not being able to find the jobless workers new jobs, so he picked an easy target. Wrong one, though.

We need to look at alternatives to the old model of giving taxpayers’ money to so-called “economic development” groups like Sunrise County Economic Council ($60,000. last year!).

Instead, taxpayers’ money should help taxpayers directly. The commissioners called that “socialism.” Using OUR money to help OURSELVES is socialism? I doubt anyone even knows what socialism is these days — I sure don’t.

Then what should we call it when our money goes to bribe corporations with tax breaks and outright subsidies? Is that socialism? fascism? communism? Or is it give-all-our-money-to-Wall Street capitalism?

Name-calling is silly. Let’s use our common sense and figure out how to solve our problems by looking at everyone’s ideas and figuring out which ones will help.

This Fall the commissioners will be getting a $240,000 kickback from tax breaks given to the out-of-state Stetson Mountain windmill corporation. What are they going to do with it?

I propose all of you who have ideas submit them to this newspaper in a letter to the editor and/or to the Washington County Commissioners with the request that they hold an open public forum for discussion and debate on how to best solve our economic crises.

Further, that the ideas which get the most support be put on a ballot for the November election, and that we, voters of Washington County, decide which is best for us, the people who live here.

How can we both survive and thrive? How to spend our money should be our decision, but it’s not going to happen unless people make it clear that’s what we want.

Real Democracy. We decide. Speak out, write letters to the editor, come to meetings, even if just once a month.

Washington County Commissioners meet the FIRST THURSDAY OF EVERY MONTH, at 4pm in the County Courthouse in Machias. You can be put on the email list to get their Agenda. Just call 255-3127 and ask the County Clerk to be put you on the list.

Participate in decisions that affect your lives. This is just an hour or two a month – isn’t it worth it to have your say and make a difference?

Hope to see you there on JUNE 4 at 4pm, County Courthouse, Machias. Self-governance is an illusion unless people actually participate. Guaranteed to be interesting or I’ll buy you an ice cream cone.

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