On March 6, the Telegram published a column by Dana Connors, president of the Maine Chamber of Commerce, titled “Consumer products law easily abused.” It was well-written and argued that restrictions intended to protect children, in a law passed by the Legislature, are much too broad and will mean the loss of jobs for Maine workers.

Connors includes a long list of products and substances covered by the law and not intended specifically for children, such as cell phones, and says the purpose of the law is not to protect children but simply to ban many things on the list.

I agree with Mr. Connors that the list seems overly broad, but the fact is that children do come in contact with products that are not child-oriented and may be dangerous to them.

Connors finds himself defeated by the implications of this law for workers. I suggest he think more positively. Has he never heard of “Build a better mousetrap”? That seems to me to be the law’s hopeful challenge.

If sippy cups with BPA are banned, then invent a cup that is safe. If cell phones are dangerous when held close to the head, invent one that removes that danger.

Certainly Maine has many universities and research institutions that are capable of picking up these challenges; there are venture-capital firms looking for innovative products. Don’t give up. There are many jobs to be created by thinking creatively.

Isabel Denham
Yarmouth

Windpower has fiscal benefits along with costs to views 

It is good to debate the merits of wind power, like any large development. But the debate should be based on facts, not broad generalizations. One common one is that “no jobs are created from wind power.”

I work in a consulting office, part of a much larger company. There are more than 50 professionals — wildlife biologists, wetland scientists, cartographers, engineers and others here.

We are known nationwide for our ecological expertise and pioneering work regarding the environmental evaluation of windpower development. We do a great deal of work in Maine, but also work on projects all over the country — New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Texas, California and beyond.

More than 20 people in this office who are from Maine or graduated from Maine colleges spend the majority of their time on wind projects. Many of them hold advanced degrees.

The economy has sputtered, but we have added positions in the last three years. These workers and the families they support would likely not be here, and our best and brightest Maine ecological professionals would be forced to move elsewhere, if not for the jobs created by wind power.

I am familiar with the economics of community benefit agreements for towns like Oakfield; economic development dollars going directly to Washington County; hiring and growth of construction firms like Reed and Reed in Woolwich; positive impacts on local taxes in Mars Hill.

Wind development has added tremendous value to the state economy and translated into good jobs for Maine people. There are technical and public policy issues about windpower that are reasonable to debate. The positive economic impact of wind power on Maine is not one of them.

Brooke Barnes
Harpswell

On the surface it would appear electricity produced by mountaintop wind in Maine’s unorganized townships will provide us with nothing but long-lasting benefits. But there will be collateral damage.

Mountaintop wind development will transform vast areas from what has been to this point the least-developed portion of Maine and part of the largest block of undeveloped forestland in the United States to one that will have hundreds of industrial wind turbines on many of its mountains and ridges.

The long visual reach of the 400-foot plus turbines sprawled across a hundred miles of mountaintops will change the landscape forever.

For many people the perceived benefits of industrial wind power trumps some abstract notion about preserving the natural character of this area.

There are those who enjoy a strenuous climb to the top of one of the high elevation mountains in western Maine to see the panorama from a barren summit.

However, the day is close at hand when no view from any high-elevation mountain in western Maine will be turbine free.

Imagine the end to vistas that don’t include dozens of turbines somewhere on the horizon. The natural landscape of mountaintops will be gone from much of Maine’s remote lands forever, and that is sad.

When this happens, it may not be the end of the world but it will be a big bite out of what defines the natural character of Maine.

There is a poorly understood phenomenon of some birds eating their young. No one knows for sure why this happens, but some experts theorize that it may be that adults get an energy benefit from it so they can provide for their other offspring.

I think this is where society is now as we scramble to find new energy sources — the willingness to sacrifice our natural landscape to help save ourselves.

Norman Kalloch
Carrying Place Township

Having just read a letter from a person complaining about wind power towers, I have a few observations myself. I also live in Maine, and have for 69 years. I grew up on a hill in Skowhegan, on a 350-acre farm, with a great view all the way to Mount Washington.

As a kid I listened to bobcats scream at night in winter, and birches snap in the cold. I roamed the woods and fields on skis and snowshoes. Then came snowmobiles and later ATVs. Our nights were no longer peaceful.

Our fields and woods were invaded, fences cut, animals harassed. Now all one can hear night and day is the whine of the vehicles.

I personally would much rather have a few wind towers there than a bunch of noisy snowmobiles. I realize there is too big a financial stake to ever go back, and that’s too bad.

Here we are complaining about gas prices and usage, and yet we use untold amounts for these things

James White
Glenburn

 

Cutting state worker benefits fuels a ‘race to the bottom’

 

An editorial March 6 (“State’s proposed cuts reasonable in this crisis”) argues that it’s OK that state employees’ benefits be “reined in” because some private sector employees may have also lost pensions.

First, this argument fails to recognize that private sector employees will receive Social Security checks, whether they have company pensions or not. Most state employees only have their state retirement — no Social Security and no 401(k) or other employer-matching benefits.

Second, it fails to realize that state employees have already sacrificed, through four years of furlough days since 2001 (a 4 percent pay cut each year), increases in employee health care premiums, deductible and copays, no cost-of-living adjustments, cuts in longevity pay and frozen merits.

Third, it feeds the “race to the bottom.” People need to wake up and realize that unions are not the problem, but remain the last bastions of worker rights and benefits to stave off the “race to the bottom.”

Look behind the curtain and see what America has become — a government of, by and for the rich. Policies pushed by corporate interests and “their” politicians have resulted in globalization without regulation. This allowed corporations to move their factories and jobs overseas to the lowest wage and tax markets without threat of tariffs.

These policies caused the conflagration of greed on Wall Street, fueled by unethical and unregulated trading practices. They made the rich richer, the poor poorer and the middle class weaker.

They caused the financial crisis and associated budget problems. It’s time we stop them and “rein in” the corporate interests. It’s time for corporations and the wealthiest, who have benefited most, to sacrifice some in solving these problems.

Unless people realize that unions are fighting everyone’s battle to maintain our standard of living, America will continue its race to the bottom.

Michael Hudson
Gardiner