FREEPORT – Charles Lawton’s column of June 13 (“Strategies must recognize ‘the two Maines’“) brought to mind a minor occurrence during the state Republican Party convention a few weeks ago.

I noticed two female delegates carrying large, plastic pink flamingoes, and asked them what the birds signified. With a hard stare, one of them looked me up and down, read my delegate ID badge and announced, “Oh, you’re from Cumberland (County) and wouldn’t understand.”

I got a chuckle out of that, and it confirmed that at least the concept of two Maines is a strong one, not just economically or politically.

The differences between the two Maines are accurately described by Mr. Lawton, but not everyone agrees with his supposition that two distinctly different approaches are necessary going forward to foster prosperity across all of our state.

All of Maine can benefit from the same prescriptions, none of which are new concepts, but all of which have been blocked by years of narrow-minded leadership in Augusta and elsewhere.

These ideas include:

Reducing per-kilowatt-hour energy costs by tapping into readily available, neighboring hydropower and other sustainable sources (when they don’t require taxpayer subsidies, direct or indirect).

Eliminating unnecessary regulation on business. Getting the bureaucracies under control would benefit resource-based industries (such as timber and paper, which still have great potential in Maine) as well as small business in every corner of the state.

Mr. Lawton points out that the entrepreneurial skills of the northern Maine population have not been sufficient to prevent economic decline. True, but don’t fault the entrepreneurs, when the dead hand of government at every level has been holding them back.

Cutting health insurance costs with market-based solutions, including allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines, and the reduction of Medicaid spending to something at least approximating the national per capita average.

Lowering marginal income tax rates and capital gains tax rates — probably the step that would have the fastest positive effect on the economy state-wide. This can be done without fiddling with sales taxes by cutting state government spending slightly in the short term to cover the reduced revenue, then watching as the economy grows and tax revenue more than recovers.

Reducing the welfare rolls, judiciously and thoughtfully, by providing incentives to both the recipients themselves to move to self-sufficiency, and to the program administrators, who too often take a near-perverse pride in the numbers they enroll, rather than in the number of people they can move to independence. Maine has nearly a quarter of its population on public assistance, and those folks don’t all live in the rim counties by any means.

The enthusiasm of folks from northern, western and Down East Maine for ideas like these was loud and clear at the convention. They weren’t looking to secede or for actions that would only help their neighborhoods.

They were heard again in the huge Republican turnout in the party primary, and no doubt will be heard from in November.

I enjoyed and still appreciate their enthusiasm and optimism for all of Maine. I’m still not sure what to make of the flamingoes, though.