Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor, April 25

Apr 25, 2019

Column ignores political realities

In his recent Another View column, Ralph Wallace conjures up a conservative’s dystopian nightmare: a federal government run amok. A new Democratic administration has initiated a raft of unworkable, budget-busting programs, accompanied by skyrocketing taxes, a bloated bureaucracy, abolition of large segments of private industry, more welfare freeloaders, and an exploding national debt. The villains behind this disaster are Medicare for all, free college tuition, universal basic income and a green new deal.

It’s easy to dismiss these ideas as radical, un-American, socialist, etc. However, from a more dispassionate stance, you realize that these crazy ideas are not just the fevered dreams of the so-called far left. They respond to real challenges faced by millions of Americans.

Millions of people are afraid of losing their medical insurance, not being able to pay their bills and not getting the health care services they and their families need. Students and their families have taken on an enormous amount of debt to pay for higher educations they believed would lead to better lives.

For those willing to look at the facts, it’s all too clear that climate change is already having a significant impact on our lives, which will only become more evident and more dramatic over the next few decades.

Incomes for middle class and low-income households have stagnated for more than 30 years, while the costs of putting a roof over your head, sending your kids to day care and to college, and purchasing medications have raced ahead, leaving little left over from the paycheck for emergencies and retirement.

Government can’t solve every problem; nor should we expect it to. However, for many years the majority of Americans have not benefited from the country’s economic growth. Tax cuts and trickle-down economics, favored by the Republican establishment, haven’t worked. We need new thinking.

Conservatives revere tradition and continuity. But realists also know that change is inevitable, often necessary and sometimes even welcomed. Turning back the clock to the :good old days" is a pipe dream. Responsible conservatives are pragmatists who want to be at the table to shape practical public policy.

Personally, I don’t think the plans offered by some of the leading Democratic presidential candidates are workable, both because the changes they represent are too big to swallow all at one time, and because they aren’t affordable in their current forms.

Having said that, I do believe that we must take meaningful steps to address these issues or risk losing the public’s faith not only in government, but in our democracy. The rise of fascism in 1920s and '30s, and the upwelling of strident populism around the world today, occurred because citizens felt their democratically elected governments were unresponsive to their needs.

Steve Mansfield


Bill could make OTC medicines easier to access

It was two o’clock in the morning when I woke my parents up with a cough that would rival a thunderstorm. We were out of cough medicine, of course, and they tried desperately with cups of tea and honey to quiet me down, both because they were worried about me and because they wanted to get some sleep. I was 10 years old and the next day I would be diagnosed with bronchitis, but for now I just needed something to soothe my cough so we could all get some sleep.

That’s the thing about living in rural Maine: all the stores are closed by 8 p.m. What if we hadn’t needed a store? What if my father had been able to drive a few miles to the closest pharmacy, where a wellness vending machine was stationed outside, stocked with cough medicine, ibuprofen, tylenol, emergency contraception, even Pepto Bismol? We all would’ve been much happier in the morning.

LD37, An Act to Allow the Sale of Nonprescription Drugs in Vending Machines, would allow just that. Open 24 hours a day, wellness vending machines could expand access to basic health care for all Mainers. Opponents of women’s health care are trying to derail this bill with misinformation and lies, but we have the power to stop them. Sen. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, is the Senate chair of the committee reviewing this bill, and she’s the leader we need to get this bill passed.

All Mainers deserve access to basic health care, whether it’s emergency contraception or cough medicine, and that shouldn’t depend on pharmacy store hours. To contact Herbig, leave her a message at 800-423-6900 and ask her to support LD37 for a healthier Maine.

Olivia Pennington


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