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.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Day 28: Where is the outrage from the 'progressives' on GD corporate welfare?



Fellow activist Lisa Savage from Solon, Maine has written a deeply moving blog post today entitled The Shame Of Underfunding Education To Make Fat Cats Even Fatter.

Lisa, a leader in our statewide campaign to oppose the General Dynamics corporate welfare bill now being considered at our state capital in Augusta, is a school teacher in one of the most rural and poverty stricken regions of Maine.

In her post today she writes:

In my tiny, very poor school district our annual budget is roughly $11 million. The superintendent let the board know recently that, due to a shortfall in the contribution from the state for school year '18-19, we need to cut the budget by around $750,000 in order to keep local taxes from going through the roof.
My district has precious little for a tax base besides residential. A few of our towns have a couple of businesses that employ people full time like a wooden flooring mill and a concrete supplier; the town my little preK-5 school is in has a store, a laundromat, two diners, a nail salon and...that's about it.

Last week two teachers came to the principal in tears. A Kindergarten student had announced that she would be unable to come to school the following day because her dad had to work to get money to buy the family some food. Her classroom teacher had told me back in the fall that she thought the child's family suffered from food insecurity. We can address this problem for preK-12 because our district is poor enough to qualify for federal aid that feeds everyone who wants it breakfast and lunch every day.
Another 1st grader has been living all winter in a trailer with a roof that leaks. Her mom has told the teacher the children will be leaving our school soon as they have a chance to move in with an uncle who has a place to live in another town.

General Dynamics, on the other hand, pays its CEO $21 million a year. It has spent $9 billion buying back its own stocks to build value in the shares its top executives receive fat bonuses for increasing. And things are about to get even better: CEO Novakovich recently told shareholders in a conference call that she regarded the federal tax bonanza for wealthy corporations as "a happy event."

The Maine People's Alliance, a lobbying group for Democrats in Maine, has declined to come out against the bill even though they supposedly stand for funding social needs. Their former executive Ryan Tipping now co-chairs the taxation committee, and he voted ought to pass last week after describing how squeamish he was at doing so. 
Thanks for your truth telling Lisa.  This is exactly why I continue my hunger strike - in solidarity with those living in poverty and neglect across this state.  The children who go to school hungry and those tens of thousands in Maine with no health care need all our voices of solidarity badly right now.

Where are the voices of the liberal Democrats - either the grassroots or the elected officials from that party?  Why are the vast majority of the 'progressive groups' in our state - who claim to represent poor people - virtually silent on LD 1781?  Is it because they fear going up against the military industrial complex and have been told by party leadership to sit this one out?

It's what I would call half-stepping - these same liberal groups and politicians in Maine howled in outrage when our Republican Sen. Susan Collins voted in favor of Trump's federal tax cut bill in Washington that cut the tax rate of General Dynamics from 35 to 19 percent.  But when a similar bill (on a smaller scale) comes before our own state legislature we hear not a mumbling word from the vast majority of them?  Why?

It's not acceptable to take a pass when one of the biggest weapons makers on the planet steals $60 million from a state that has people suffering in poverty.  It is not the job of Maine, or any other city or state, to fund the military industrial complex.

Bruce 

1 Comments:

Blogger Peter said...

The Maine Legislature should take a lesson from General Dynamics. GD won't bail Bath Iron Works out, why should the State of Maine. ( It would seem they have a vested interest in the shipyard's success but won't help. )

3/11/18, 3:15 PM  

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