Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Day 18: Outsourced....Maine is a corporate colony

On the second day of our recent trial for civil disobedience at Bath Iron Works in 2017 the Sagadahoc County Superior Court Justice Daniel Billings dismissed the charges and stated, "Basically the [Bath] police department is outsourced to BIW [Bath Iron Works] on these events...."

Based on recent experiences, during this statewide campaign to oppose $60 million in corporate welfare for BIW/General Dynamics, I'd like to expand on the judges words to say - the local newspaper in this community (the Times Record) has been outsourced to BIW/GD and the Maine State Legislature has been outsourced to BIW/GD.  Maine is a corporate colony and democracy does not truly exist here at this moment.

I don't think I am exaggerating this claim.  All one has to do is look at recent issues where the state legislature has bowed to the power of JD Irving Ltd on the mining issue; Nestle (Poland Springs) on the water extraction issue; General Dynamics on the corporate subsidy issue; and many more similar cases.  Corporations like Walmart, Hannaford, L.L. Bean, Pratt & Whitney, Saco Defense, and others generally get what they want from the legislature and local communities where they operate.

Over the years Maine has subsidized hundreds of corporate operations using various mechanisms to hand over taxpayer dollars supposedly in return for more jobs.  But studies show that in most cases job growth at subsidized firms is considerably lower than the state average.  There was no relationship between the size of subsidies received and the amount of jobs gained – as subsidies rose, job gains did not.

A Maine Sunday Telegram investigation found that neither a $31.8 million loan nor the $8.2 million in equity investment—which was the basis for two investors receiving state tax credits—actually paid for improvements to the Great Northern Paper mill that shut down in 2014. Instead the funds were returned the same day to investors, never going into the mill for changes that could have saved jobs, and Great Northern filed for bankruptcy later that year. Hundreds of jobs were lost after workers were given false promises.

Following the recent passage of Trump's corporate tax cuts at the federal level the rate of taxation for the fat cats will drop even lower.  According to a transcript of an online call, General Dynamics CEO Phebe Novakovic characterized the passage of the tax overhaul this way:  “We are in a period right now of growth that needs to be supported by investments and happily and officiously we’ve a tax bill that gives us more free cash flow,” Novakovic told shareholders. “So a happy event.”

What is happening in Maine is happening nationwide and even worldwide as the corporate agenda is clearly to hollow out democracy and retard social progress.  It is essentially a return to feudalism - this time corporate style.

So our meager campaign here in Maine to oppose this give-a-way of a precious $60 million to GD is just one of many similar struggles currently going across our state and beyond.



Blogger Lisa Savage said...

Right you are. The best government money can buy is not very good.

3/1/18, 5:27 PM  

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