Doing the right thing

By Reade Brower | Dec 18, 2013

"What is morally wrong can never be advantageous, even when it enables you to make some gain that you believe to be to your advantage. The mere act of believing that some wrongful course of action constitutes an advantage is pernicious." — Marcus Tullius Ceicero, statesman, orator, write (106 – 43 BCE).

Pernicious and RSU 13

I loved the quote above but for the life of me had no idea what “pernicious” meant. A quick Google search and I see it means “highly injurious, deadly, or wicked."

I’m not exactly sure what the quote means but its philosophy basically backs up the school of thought “do the right thing." Perhaps if we could live within this maxim, we would find more solutions and less acrimony in our everyday politics.

The closed door politics at RSU 13 has many scratching their heads and looking for some leadership that will lead to a contract with teachers, and put all the petty squabbling and positioning behind us.

The questions are: “why has this occurred and what stops us from moving forward”?

The Courier-Gazettes’ editorial in the Dec. 5 edition made it clear that there is a failure in RSU 13 because its teachers, staff, administrators and board members cannot set an agenda for moving forward. The Courier suggests that what is needed is “openness, a willingness to admit problems and failings, transparency and clear communications” but stops short in placing any specific blame.

While I am not well versed in the subject, knowing just what I’ve read, I see this as an “us and them” type of fight where the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” mentality taking precedent over what is the right thing to do or working toward some sort of compromise and solution.

I understand the situation is more complicated because the teachers are not working with a contract and budget cuts make it hard on everyone. Regardless, we need more from our leaders.

One of the biggest problems in our schools is the lack of parental and citizen input. Parents are one of the most important cogs in the system and many of them just don’t show up and don’t stand up. Parent involvement in public schools is apathetic, at best. Pathetic is perhaps a better description.

I challenge the parents and citizens of Rockland to step up and be part of the process, part of the solution, by demanding answers and creating some questions that move us forward instead of pointing fingers.

In the end, if both sides can’t decide, have a binding arbitrator come in and make the decisions necessary to avoid a logjam and move our schools forward. This is in the best interest of our children.

Shortsighted

The Waldoboro budget has forced that community to answer to where they put their money and how this will directly determine their priorities. Cutting the budget for police protection seems shortsighted when you consider that Waldoboro, approximately the same size community as Camden, started with only about half Camden’s budget to begin with.

Being in the newspaper and printing business, I have seen how the hard economic times have morphed these industries. Cutting people and expenses was popular with many in the industry, but I think that is shortsighted.

Prudency has to be at the top of every list if you are a business owner, but sometimes the “penny wise, pound foolish” way of thinking keeps us mired in economic mud. At this paper, we have had to be very careful; we watch the pennies while using the philosophy of “measuring twice, cutting once."

What has happened in our industry is that continuing cuts has created a spiraling effect on circulation and ad sales that leaves you with more cuts. However, a few of us are stepping up and recognizing that investing back in your product might be a better path.

If we can create a better newspaper, we’ll get more people to buy it, create more relevance and with that, more advertising. All in all, this is the winning formula.

Does it relate to Waldoboro; I don’t know but I think that we need leaders to create paths that are set up to deal with the present, while providing for a future that gets you where you want to go.

Trickle down works

Trickle down does work, shop local. My position on trickle-down economics not working has an exception or two.

Basing our economy on this theory will undoubtedly do little to create equity and will instead most likely widen the gap between the “haves” and “have nots."

Making the rich richer, doesn’t necessarily raise the tide for the poor. It is shortsighted and its effects, it could be argued, hurt the rich who, by the way, have the most to lose when economic turn-downs occur.

Where trickle-down theory does work is on a local level. When we shop locally, instead of going to the malls in Portland and Bangor, or shopping the Internet, or catalogs, those dollars do have an impact in our community and the people who live in that community.

It would be both naïve and hypocritical to say that we should keep 100 percent of our money in our Midcoast community, but it isn’t far fetched to ask ourselves to be cognizant of where we spend our money this holiday season and all year long.

Yes, mall shopping and going to Wal-Mart is sometimes necessary to get the products you are looking for and the pricing you need. Going out of town can be a fun family get away too. However, if we can make that the exception, rather than the rule, we would increase our local economy and the ripple effect would help us all. Supporting the local economy is not only the right thing to do, it is the best thing you can do to help your neighbors and friends in the community that depend on local spending to feed the Midcoast economic engine.

Extending Unemployment benefits

I worry about 18,000-plus workers who will be affected if Congress doesn’t extend the Emergency Benefits program but I don’t think continuing offering assistance indefinitely helps in the long run.

My preference is a work program that helps the state, and gives those workers a chance to contribute while looking for employment. The problem is that many are not looking for employment; they are seasonal workers laid off and waiting until their jobs start back up. While they wait, there is an entitlement that unemployment should cover them rather than them having to find replacement work.

While I see both sides of this, I think work pro-quid would cut down on the abuses, provide us with more economic impetus and allow us to put the money saved into a more important issue, raising the minimum wage so that we eliminate the “working poor” class while creating a stronger infrastructure.

RIP Nelson Mandela

At his funeral, President Obama remarked; “Nothing he achieved was inevitable….(He) earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness, and persistence and faith. He tells us what is possible not just in the pages of history books, but in our own lives as well.”

Mandela sets an example of how love (peace) can triumph over evil (violence). Through compromise and the notion that we all bleed the same color blood (red), he sets us up to consider a world where equality is a given and everyone has a chance at a productive life that will create the rising tide that raises all ships.

I read Mac Deford’s column in a recent Free Press and liked a quote he used. Harvard Professor Steve Walt wrote, “A rising power seeking regional hegemony would be wise to avoid war. When you try and gain hegemony with one bold roll of the iron dice, others will gang up to stop you. By contrast, slow, steady accretions of power are less likely to trigger a balancing response, and they also avoid the inherent uncertainties of open warfare.”

Though this seems like it came straight from Mao’s little red book, following this recipe would certainly create a world with less uncertainty and perhaps more fairness.

Turn the Page. Peace out; Reade

Reade Brower can be reached at: reade@freepressonline.com.

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