Not-so-progressive nightmares and the Buy Local survey

Letters to the Portland Editor, March 25, 2011


Deirdre Fulton's characterization of the nightmare unfolding in Augusta is accurate ("Progressive Nightmare," March 18); her characterization of that as a "progressive" nightmare is not.

When the safety net gets shredded the taxpayers are committing themselves to putting more people behind bars, since people with no resources or hope break the law. When the State gets more power to distinguish between "legal" and "illegal" immigrants more people will end up behind bars. This is far from free: according to the National Institute of Corrections this costs $44,000 per year per inmate in Maine. You might object to giving handouts, but whatever we spend on a safety net it is less than this.

When we remove protections for living wages and safe working conditions for working people we are increasing the chances that working people are not going to be able to support their families, thereby increasing what the State will have to do to protect children. And it means that workers will not be able to spend money to support the economy, which will adversely impact small businesses and jobs in Maine.

When we devastate the environment we are jeopardizing the tourism that is one of Maine's leading sources of income. And unless it is just coincidence that 14 of the globally hottest years on record have been 1997-2010 (United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climate Data Center) we will be encouraging the climate changes that in 2010 brought us 90-degree days in September in Portland for the first time in history, and drought and flooding cycles that are devastating agriculture and raising food costs.

When we label health care a privilege rather than a right we are increasing the chances that our illnesses will cost us our jobs, our homes and our future health. And since germs don't care who is rich or American-born, and since we can't avoid coming into close contact with other people on the streets and in elevators and everywhere we are increasing the chances that "their" illnesses will become our illnesses.

What's happening in Augusta is the same policy of short-term support for the affluent dressed up as fiscal responsibility that has resulted in both the biggest deficit in American history with the fewest benefits for those shouldering the burden. What's happening in Augusta is going to turn a poor state poorer, as more people become more desperate and investors lose confidence in the long-term prognosis. Progressives may be the first to care, but it will not take the average Mainer long to realize that a nightmare is perhaps the only asset we will all be sharing.

Seth Berner


The Portland Independent Business and Community Alliance stands behind the findings and methodology of our most recent survey of Portland Buy Local members ("Buy Local 'Survey' Is Questionable," March 18). The survey results are consistent with those of similar member surveys PIBCA has conducted over the past four years, as well as with other evidence that the Portland Buy Local campaign is both popular and effective.

The percentage of survey respondents reporting that the campaign has had a positive impact on their business has grown in tandem with the growing membership of our non-profit organization. It stands to reason that if the campaign was not helping local, independently owned businesses — or if it was somehow hurting those businesses — not only would our members tell us this, but our membership would shrink accordingly.

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