Published on Tuesday, July 11, 2005 - Bangor Daily News
by Nancy Oden
As an independent candidate for the Maine Senate, I'm responding to John Baldacci's contention that what Washington County (and Maine) needs is more "economic development" (BDN, June 30).
On Baldacci's watch, so far "economic development" includes turning Maine into the Northeast's garbage dump, filling Eastern Maine towns with disgusting, toxic gases, a huge LNG terminal in the midst of rich fishing grounds, which would take many people's homes by eminent domain for its pipeline, a 1,000 buildings project for Moosehead Lake by the bad actor corporation, Plum Creek, and so on. I'm sure none of these would pass a vote by Maine citizens.
Depending on corporations for a living is precarious business, as we see from paper mills' and other industries' closings, major layoffs at MBNA, etc. Therefore, we need to figure out how to live well with less money. That's our new reality.
To lessen people's personal expenses, we need, at a minimum: Medicare for all; lower taxes; good, convenient public transportation, including trains; solar and wind technology applied to state-owned buildings to lower energy costs and taxes, then people's homes and other large public buildings.
The above would also create many good, permanent jobs.
Now, as to real poverty.
I went food shopping the other day and, remembering the article on food pantries running short of food, I was disgusted by this: I found two cartons with one cracked egg in each. When I handed them to the grocery clerk, he threw both cartons into a box. I asked him if he were going to re-package the good eggs.
"Oh, no," he said, "We throw them all out, then the egg company gives us credit for the whole carton."
I said, "You mean these perfectly good, organic eggs will be thrown away today as garbage?"=
"Yep," he replied, "that's how we do it here."
Hungry people are turned away from food pantries because the pantries don't have enough food to give them. At the same time, the food corporations are throwing away as garbage TONS of still-good meats, vegetables, fruit, milk, eggs every single day. I can think of no good excuse for such unconscionable, indeed, sinful, waste.
If you elect me senator, I will see to it that little food is wasted, and that people who need food get it, cries of "insurance concerns" from the food corporations notwithstanding.
The needs of Maine's people should come before the profits of any corporation, and that's how I'll run my administration - for the people, not for corporate profit.
As to "poor" Washington County. Here is how one fairly typical native Mainer family in my neighborhood lives:
Husband works as a handyman. Because he works quickly and well, he gets $20 an hour, good for Washington County. Wife stays home with four children. But, even though he's in demand, he doesn't work long hours because being with family is more important to him.
He often brings one of his teen-aged children to work with him to teach them the trade. He also hunts and fishes for the freezer, and she grows a large, organic garden and keeps a few chickens so they always have eggs and vegetables.
They don't have all the latest gadgets, but they have enough and never want for food or other necessities. They live surrounded by woods and near the sea. Probably they would be classified as "poor" from a money point of view, but they don't think of themselves as poor. They are leading good, productive, independent lives, working hard, but doing pretty much what they want when they want.
Most people in the world would love such a life. And who could ask for more, really?
Not everyone can farm, so below are a few of the many skills we could introduce in our schools, encouraging people to become more independent and self-sufficient.
As senator, I will encourage subsidies of small, independent enterprises providing needed goods and services to the people of Maine. These would include child care, handyman who can fix nearly everything (need lots of these), plumber, electrician, carpenter, mason, farmer (fruits, vegetables, meat animals, eggs), machinist, mechanic, nurse, expert gardener, cook, baker and woodcutter, among many others. (Look for more ideas on my Web site, www.cleanearth.net.)
Independence and self-sufficiency are the way we need to go to survive and thrive. As senator, I will not tolerate the taking of people's homes for so-called "economic development." Major decisions will be put out to referendum for Maine's people to debate and vote on.
I promise to work for real democracy where we the people, not the corporations, make the decisions that affect our lives. With your help, we can stop the suffocation of Maine and set an example for others on how to lead good, productive, even joyous, lives.
Nancy Oden lives in Jonesboro and can be reached at , or [207-434-6228].