Democratic Radio Address: Fear is driving policy. But fear will not lead us to prosperity.
Good Morning. This is State Senator Cynthia Dill of Cape Elizabeth.
Earlier this week, Verso Paper in Bucksport, Global Contact in Pittsfield, and Barber Foods in Portland announced substantial layoffs numbering more than 250. Maine Today Media also announced layoffs of more than sixty people.
The impact of these layoffs is more than just more Maine people without a job. There will be hundreds of families losing yet another paycheck—perhaps their only paycheck—at a time when our public institutions are being depleted of the resources needed to provide relief.
Also, earlier this week, people from all around America gathered in protest—from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. Our neighbors marched from Maine’s state capital to the offices of our United States Senators in solidarity with the 99% of Americans who are being denied a fair shot at the American Dream.
Layoffs and protests are related, of course, by the growing economic injustice and disparity between the super wealthy—and you and me.
Maine people stand in protest of the economic policies and an entrenched political system that help the wealthiest one percent of Americans—at the expense of the rest of us.
And, the message is clear: the middle class is fed up with bearing the brunt of an economy run in to the ground by speculators and fat cats. We are tired of bailing out mega-corporations while our small businesses and community institutions sink.
It is time for everyone to pay their fair share.
Working and middle class Maine people can no longer tolerate ongoing cuts to vital programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security so that only a handful of people and corporations can get tax cuts.
Banks, mortgage and credit card companies, investment firms and big corporations must no longer have carte blanche. They must be held accountable for the consequences of their reckless practices. They must conduct business honestly and fairly, or answer to our system of justice.
Maine people need good jobs and opportunities.
Maine people need fairness and good government. And, Maine people need leadership.
During such economic strife, we need leaders to put in place policies that help level the playing field, not tax cuts that reward the super rich over the middle class. This is not class warfare. This is democracy. We all—rich and poor—have equal access to the constitution and our rights to petition our government and speak out about injustice.
We all have the right to express our growing frustration about people we know and love who want to work but can’t find jobs—people who have jobs but are under-employed, under-paid, and struggling to make ends meet. People in America and in Maine are crying out for justice, fairness and equal opportunities to succeed.
The question is—will our elected officials hear their call?
Maine needs strong leaders with a vision of a better future, and leaders with positive and passionate energy to steer this ship out of troubled waters. I firmly believe we need leadership who can look at the strengths of our state and its people and promote what’s going well—while fixing what is broken.
The message of the current administration is purposefully negative. There are melodramatic warnings of doom and gloom in order to scare people in to cutting taxes and slashing programs—the very things that drive economic disparities and injustice.
Fear is driving policy. But fear will not lead us to prosperity.
If you ask any successful business person about good marketing, they will say that constantly pointing out what’s negative about your product—in this case, our state—is not a sound business practice.
Maine is among the best places to live, raise children, and start a business. This must be our message to the world. It’s true, and it will attract investment that will lead to jobs.
For instance, Maine was recently recognized in a study done by Ernst & Young as having the best tax structure for new business investment in the country. Our sound and attractive business tax policy was intentionally accomplished over the past several years through strategic decisions and changes to the tax code. Why aren’t we talking about this?
And, if the Ernst & Young report isn’t convincing enough, then let’s listen to Amy Stursberg, from Blackstone—the charitable foundation who recently invested $3 million in an exciting economic development initiative.
She cites the reason for choosing Maine for this hefty investment is, and I quote, because the state has “sophisticated entrepreneurship programs.”
This project is projected to create as many as 10,000 new jobs and $664 million in revenue during the next ten years.
And, there’s more! This year, Maine was designated by the United States Chamber of Commerce as having the best business infrastructure in the country because of the Three Ring Binder project—a project that brings high-speed Internet to rural Maine.
The Three Ring Binder project is a shining example of a successful public-private partnership that is being touted around the country, but not talked about enough here in Maine.
I encourage every single Maine citizen to speak up, and speak loudly! Demand economic justice and equal opportunity! Demand corporate accountability and fairness!
And demand that your leaders speak the truth about all there is to celebrate here in Maine. We have a pristine environment and natural resources worthy of protection, a strong work ethic, low crime rate, low taxes on business investment, quality business infrastructure, dedicated entrepreneurs and really great kids.
What’s not to talk about?
Thank you for listening. This is Senator Cynthia Dill. Have a great weekend.