Submitted by Frank Spizuoco: DEXTER - The latest Abbott Library's Book Club reading was the Brookings Report, Charting Maine's Future. In it are specific recommendations concerning funding to invest in revitalizing Maine's cities and towns, protecting and preserving our forests, farms, and working waterfronts. A Maine Quality Places and Jobs Innovation funding is also recommended. Streamlining state government and school administration districts is given top priority.
Book club members' reaction to the reports findings varied from very good to incomplete. The report appeared heavy on promoting tourism but nothing about rebuilding our basic infrastructure, including railroads. Many in the club agreed that the high price of energy would eventually render parts of the report's revenue projections irrelevant. One member felt that some of the report is based on globalization that depends on cheap energy and that is changing rapidly in this new world order of energy scarcity. Our present delivery system is unsustainable and globalization is a house of cards that will fall. It was noted that Denmark has 1.6% unemployment and now exports energy from their windpower industry; Maine could do the same.
Some felt the report was boring and that just by reading the executive summary it told you everything that was in the report. Some desired more people oriented data in the report. There was no mention of the importance of people having a voice in their local government; everything comes down to us from Augusta. No one asks the local people what they think; we are just mandated by the state. Information is spoon-fed to us and we have no alternatives. It was recalled that the town of Garland overwhelmingly voted against a town comprehensive plan some years ago.
Promoting a service economy that doesn't service anything means no net gain in production of goods for our society. We don't produce anything anymore. The comment, "we'll all end up giving each other haircuts," filled the room with laughter. But in Maine we have a tremendous growing group of independent small home businesses. These need to be encouraged and supported; yet this group was barely mentioned in the report.
All agreed that government efficiency was needed and sprawl in rural areas needs to be checked somehow. One participant mentioned that her husband has been making the same 45 mile drive to work for the last 25 years and during those years he has counted 300 new homes that have been built along his driving route. To regulate and control growth our government needs to communicate locally better. Many lamented the loss of community today in our small towns and the decline of local businesses on our Main Streets. Many communities are losing pieces of them selves and it will get worse with more school consolidation.
One participant called the report "self-serving". It was noted that the report, sponsored by "Grow Smart Maine" from Yarmouth, recommends lowering the state income tax for the highest income brackets. A question was put to the group, "do you feel your overall state taxes are too high"? This brought a unanimous response, "no" but there was comments that the sales tax needed to be broadened and property taxes not increased.
The next book club discussion will be on Thursday, September 25th. Participants are encouraged to read a book of their choosing and give a short synopsis of the book's content to the group.
|Back to News||Home||Print This Story|