A number of years ago, I resolved the issue that many of us wrestle with when faced with a destitute person on the street asking for money. Do we try to size this person up, presume to know what they’ll buy with the money – Big Mac? Crack? Thunderbird? – and then fish out pocket change or not, all the time feeling morally queasy?

Then I read a quote from this country’s essential big-hearted man of all seasons, Walt Whitman, who said, “Give alms to anyone who asks.” Simple. If a person is reduced to begging on the street and you have no idea what brought that person there, help them out if you can. Every time. No moral indignation. No judgments.

But what if that person were sitting in the back seat of a Mercedes stretch limo, the tinted glass down just enough to allow a glimpse of the Armani suit while a leather-gloved hand extends in supplication. A boardroom voice demands, “Give me $60 million or I’ll move to Mississippi!”

Well, folks, even Uncle Walt would say rules are made to be broken when the panhandler is General Dynamics. General Dynamics is a con, a corporate extractor who will keep taking from the poor to feed the rich until we say NO.

It should boggle any Mainer’s decent mind that L.D. 1781 is even being considered with a straight face. Our Legislature says to General Dynamics, “Yes, please rob us so we don’t have to feed our poor children or provide health care or fix our roads or pay our teachers.” Really?

Stop this nonsense!

Robert Shetterly


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