Merrymeeting Greens support seven political solutions

Merrymeeting Greens Support Seven Political Solutions

GUEST COLUMN
BY FRED HORCH

The Merrymeeting Greens, a group of citizens active in the Maine Green Independent Party in communities surrounding Merrymeeting Bay, are working to advance seven political solutions to meet the serious challenges facing Maine. We invite candidates for office and concerned citizens to join with us during the 2016 political campaign season to promote Green public policies that will create a better future for our state.

1. We support local clean and affordable solar power, as well as comprehensive and cost-effective efficiency programs, to lower energy costs and allow Maine’s small businesses, farms, and families to benefit from the transition to sustainable power for our economy. An “all of the above” energy policy that prolongs Maine’s dependence on oil and natural gas is foolish and will ultimately damage our health and destroy our economic prospects. More efficient buildings powered by clean solar energy protect our health and strengthen Maine’s economy.

2. We support universal health care, with insurance coverage for everyone living in Maine. Both the “Obamacare” and so-called “free market” health insurance schemes allow some people to avoid paying for the public health infrastructure we all need, bankrupt unlucky victims who suffer from severe health problems, and deny care to people based on their wealth. We know from experience in every other developed country that a universal system lowers costs for everyone, prevents death and disease, and delivers better results.

3. We support local farms and fisheries to provide nutritious food for our families. Supermarket foodscapes in which more than 90 percent of the food we eat is trucked in from out of state put us at enormous risk in case of any increase in the price of diesel fuel or any interruption in the interstate transportation system, while also constantly draining money out of our state economy. Local farms and fisheries nurture self reliance and healthy communities.

4. We support local businesses and worker-owned cooperatives to strengthen our middle classes and grow a healthier economy. Public corporations by law are committed to only one goal: corporate profits for their shareholders. Cooperatives give workers greater democratic say in their economic lives, rather than having the decisions that affect them made in distant boardrooms. And profits earned in the sale of goods and services by locally-owned businesses are circulated in Maine, rather than sent to distant shareholders.

5. We support “housing first” for our homeless to protect public safety, mitigate senseless suffering, and turn lives around. We know that approximately 3 percent of our population will become homeless every year, due to family circumstances, mental illness, and other chronic problems. We cannot put the burden on churches, private social service agencies, or jails to fill the gap: their resources are already stretched too thin. It’s time to face facts and put into place a more humane and cost-effective solution to the perennial challenge of homelessness.

6. We support Bath Iron Works diversifying its product mix before receiving any more tax breaks. Jobs are at risk: this industrial complex has been seduced by federal tax dollars into producing a technologically dazzling but economically wasteful ship whose costs exceed the benefits. Our Senators and Representatives in the United States Congress, as well as local elected officials, should get smarter about doling out corporate welfare. It’s time for BIW to develop a more sustainable business model.

7. We support a comprehensive plan to combat Maine’s drug epidemic, including education, treatment and effective community supports to aid in recovery and improve public safety. People who abuse drugs and alcohol should be treated for addiction, not treated like criminals. Our own nation’s experience with Prohibition, during which violence and crime escalated, contrasts with Portugal’s experience with legalization, during which violence and crime receded. Criminalizing drug abuse is the wrong approach. We will have safer communities and fewer drug problems if we treat drug abuse with common sense and compassion rather than batons and battering rams.

We are fortunate to live in a society whose constitution guarantees the freedom to express our political ideas. As the 2016 campaigns get underway in earnest, we encourage citizens who share our values to ask candidates to take a position on these issues to help us transform politics and implement Green political solutions here in Maine. Our forebears made many sacrifices to secure our political rights; let’s honor them by learning the issues, participating in politics, and voting for the common good.

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Fred Horch is a member of the Merrymeeting Greens, a Brunswick resident and former Green Independent candidate for the Maine State Senate.

 

This article originally appeared in the Times Record at http://www.timesrecord.com/news/2016-02-12/Opinion/Merrymeeting_Greens_Support_Seven_Political_Soluti.html

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