Franklin Countys First News

Politics & Other Mistakes: The road(s) not taken

Al Diamon

Maine’s roads, bridges and other vital infrastructure, such as the population of people below retirement age, are in terrible shape. Our highways are pockmarked with potholes. Spans across rivers and gullies are rusted and sagging. Young people are sneaking out of the state under cover of darkness to seek asylum in more prosperous climes, like Detroit or North Korea.

To address these issues, the state has formed a blue-ribbon committee, which is the state’s clever way of saying it doesn’t plan to do anything to address these issues. The panel had barely begun its deliberations when it became hopelessly deadlocked over how to pay for required maintenance, necessary upgrades and assorted bribes to lure the younger generation back home.

Democrats wanted to raise the gas tax. Republicans wanted to take money from elsewhere in the budget. Somebody else suggested there was a lot of cash to be made selling phony dietary supplements.

These ideas fail to take into account another problem facing Maine: climate change. Of all the greenhouse gases emitted in the state each year, more than half – 8 million tons of CO2 – comes from motor vehicles. That’s far above the national average (29 percent) and well ahead of the amount caused by cow farts. Strangely enough, scientists are hard at work solving that latter problem by studying the effects of feeding cattle seaweed, which has the potential of reducing their noxious pooting by more than 25 percent.

Removing that odor from the air might convince millennials to reconsider their plans for departure. After all, Detroit isn’t noted for its sweet smell.

But back to roads and bridges. Bringing them up to reasonable standards would cost something in the neighborhood of $140 million a year, above and beyond the nearly $400 million the state is already spending. If that money could somehow be found, the newly refurbished transportation system would almost certainly encourage increased driving and, in turn, even more CO2 spewing into the air.

It’s not as if drivers are suddenly going to park their vehicles and take public transportation. In most of the state, such services are rarer than decent broadband. In sparsely settled sections of Maine – places where they don’t even have Uber – there’s no way buses or trains could cover their costs without massive amounts of tax money. Even in urban areas like Portland, substantial subsidies are needed.

The state could raise the 30-cent-a-gallon gas tax. It could slap annual fees on electric vehicles, which pay no gas tax but use the roads anyway. It could increase the price of inspection stickers and vehicle registration. It could divert sales taxes paid on auto repair products to the highway fund. It could recruit criminals to rob tourists and split the take.

Or it could try something innovative.

In my misspent youth, I once advocated for Maine to stop plowing the roads after snowstorms. That would have reduced wear and tear on our precious asphalt, cut down car exhaust and encouraged everyone to live within snowshoeing distance of a good bar. Unfortunately, it would also have reduced our economy to something resembling North Korea’s. Except with no nukes and better haircuts.

So, let’s take a less drastic approach. On one designated weekday each month, driving should be banned statewide. The only vehicles allowed on the roads would be those related to public safety, mass transit and other vital services, such as beer delivery. Violators would be subject to severe fines, which would be deposited in the highway fund.

Admittedly, this would have only a minor impact on our infrastructure and air pollution problems, a reduction of less than 3 percent in both. But it would be a lot more fun than increasing taxes and fees. It also might encourage improved public transportation and high-speed broadband in rural areas, so idled employees could pretend to be working from home while binge-watching “The Mandalorian.”

I doubt the experts on the blue-ribbon commission will take my idea seriously. But that just makes us even.

Cow flatulence and other dissenting opinions may be emailed to aldiamon@herniahill.net.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

26 Responses »

  1. "I doubt the experts on the blue-ribbon commission will take my idea seriously". Al, I never take you seriously!

  2. Until/unless China and India radically reduce their emissions, you are bailing an ocean liner with a teaspoon by enacting ANY further restrictions on CO2 etc in Maine. Our emissions (US taken as a whole) are awesome, in fact. Same for plastic in the oceans and a few other issues we constantly hear about, which aren't due to 'us'.

    Time for other countries to step up; we did. Leave us alone now. As tech comes on-line, people will use it if it's good, without coercion.

    The end.

  3. People have accepted the "Status Quo" for so long no one thinks the unthinkable. That is a motor with better MPG. We can go to the moon but this is not possible? Something smells worse then cow farts. Also people that live in rural areas have to accept the fact they can not expect super highways. You do a trade off or pay a price for everything.

  4. Here are some ideas.

    #1. Turn off the "Welcome to Maine Illegal Immigrants" sign and stop funding all rents and medical care and
    Food and liquor and gas for all that are here now. There are jobs everywhere and employers are happy to
    Train eager and motivated workers. Tens of Millions saved.
    #2. No more welfare for "CHILDLESS" adults. See last two sentences above for details!!!
    #3. Stop all taxpayer funding for the many methadone clinics...(make the legislature do their job and start
    Collecting sales taxes on marijuana as promised years ago) Use all those "weed" taxes to pay for drug
    Treatments. Over $50 million saved!!!
    #4. Repeal the new taxpayer funding for abortions. New law so not sure of savings but could be alot.
    #5. Repeal the new taxpayer funding for even more "Childless" young adults for Medicaid. See details
    In last few sentences of #1.
    There....i think I've covered the $140 million extra that is needed for the roads and bridges!!!
    What???? These are conservative ideas???? Wellllllll yeah, but.....What???? The progressive liberals run
    The state now???? Ohhhhhh crap.... I forgot.
    Never mind!!!!

  5. I am with you Mike!! I never understood why all the bonds pass to make public roads better.....They never get better around here.....??

  6. I recently read in the Lewiston paper that the state is projecting a $160 million surplus for 2019.If they have their facts right, it means that governor Mills hasn't yet spent all of the $600 million surplus that she inherited.Maybe some of that can be used to help our infrastructure.Whoops I almost forgot we are dealing with the dems.

  7. The carbon released by a huge wildfire in California in an hour is twice the carbon released by all the cars in Maine for a year. In 2018 the wildfires released 68 million tons of carbon, in 2016 electricity generation in California released 74 million tons of carbon. BTW, how is it Al, that the state's own DEP has figures that say 90% of Maine' s GHG emission is from petroleum burning electricity generation, not from motor vehicle emissions, The EPA, DOE, GEO, MPUC, and NOAA all agree with the 90% figure. Maine currently has about a half a million registered vehicles, and the thing of it is, they are not all on the road at the same time, nor do they run 24/7 Gas electricity plants however are and do.

  8. No more taxes. The tax burden in Maine is already outrageous. When you add in the cost of heat, the trouble of snow removal and hazards of ice, it's a wonder anyone lives here at all. Time for the choice: fix the failing infrastructure that will last year's into the future or blow the money away on services for people who will most likely leave the state as soon as the money runs out.

  9. Mike, just the thought of your suggestions is making Janet’s eyes blink faster than hummingbird wings....

  10. Right on Mike Deschenes!

  11. Mike, A simple solution for the seat warmers in Augusta. Until Maine gets rid of the welfare mentality we will forever suffer high taxes. If your in the hole, quit digging, is a good adage here. We don’t need refugees or illegals collecting anything from our taxpayers, we got enough of our own multi generational welfare families, drug addicts and layabouts to take care of. Stop voting for these fools that are wasting our limited resources, Real Maine “taxpayers” have had enough. KAG2020

  12. Another example of wasteful spending by our state officials is broadband access. All they have to do is read or watch the news that SpaceX is launching more and more satellites to provide broadband world wide. And SpaceX will probably reach that goal a lot quicker than our state will.

  13. I believe the voters need to change what is happening to beautiful maine. I truly feel its turning in a east coast California. It will be run into the ground if the voters dont acted now. Maine will not survive with all its taxpayers dollars given away to all the areas as Mike and Peter stated.
    I love maine and I hate to see it wasting away in the hands of those who have no clue.

  14. Hey folks and DBD editors, please allow me to give you a few more juicy tidbits of our current legislature in
    Augusta. Maine has been rated almost dead last in business friendliness for generations (usually in the 45-
    50th range out of the 50 states). I owned a wood working business in Wilton for 18 years and sold out in
    2018. I can tell you from my own experiences that we deserve that low rating. Examples #1...workers
    Compensation laws. In this state any employee who files a workers comp claim and wins will get 100% of
    Their pay for up to 5 years, after which time they must apply for permanent disability. You all know how that
    Goes!!!! Generally granted for life with no questions asked. So, that old rule of 100% pay seems fair enough
    Right??? But guess what, this current legislature decided that 100% of your pay wasn't good enough, so they
    Voted to give all workers comp claimplainants 125% of their pay, for up to 5 years. A 25% pay raise for a
    Work related injury. Now the 2nd part of this workers compensation fiasco. Any employee can file a claim
    For work related injuries up to 30 days AFTER they are fired/terminated. That was the old law!!! The new law
    Just passed allows someone to file a workers comp claim up to 60 days after they are fired/terminated!!!
    What's wrong with that you may wonder??? Well, let me enlighten you. In September 2013, i fired a very bad
    Employee for good reason. He did what many BAD apples do, he immediately filed for unemployment pay
    And lied on his application and said he was laid off for lack of work. I disputed it and we had a phone
    Teleconference with Dept of Labor a few weeks later and he was denied his unemployment compensation.
    So he did what all Bad apples with half a brain do in this state, he filed a fake workers comp claim against
    Me and said he hurt his back on his very last day of employment. I disputed it and gave plenty of evidence
    To prove my case, they denied him, he wouldn't accept their denial, he got the free lawyer provided by the
    Nice workers comp folks and...long story shortened...my insurer paid out almost $39,000 for that claim.
    Guess what happens to all employers after a claim is "Paid out"??? We are moved into the "high risk"
    Category and our premiums go up about 50% per year for 4-5 years. Mine went up about $5000 per year
    Immediately! So, now you understand why Maine is at the bottom of the "friendly to businesses" ratings!!!
    Our current legislature, including our own local guy, voted to give these extra benefits to employees and the
    Only ones who will suffer are the business owners. Please think about the future of our state when you vote
    This year. 😉

  15. Mike,

    Thanks for sharing your story.
    We know this happens over and over and over in the state of maine.
    Why?
    Because they "can", that's why.

    Our State is now run by the Giddy Democratic Party.
    They get all giddy about enabling the crooks to swindle honest workers out of their money.
    While actually helping no one.
    But u can bet you're sweet bippy those folks kg s all vote for the Dems (they might be crooked and lazy but not stupid to bite the hand that enables them).

    And Janet is shopping around for 50,000 more illegals to give your money to if she can pull it off (WELCOME HOME ILLEGALS). wouldn't be so bad if we were actually taking care of our own first..
    But we're not,, Welcome Home Illegals.

  16. Reality Mike, Mike Deschenes said that the local guy voted in favor of that. The local legislators for Wilton are both Republican. Stop pushing everything you don't like onto the Dems.

  17. Reality Reality , Mike lives in Farmington where the rep is democrat. His business was in Wilton. They both have a point even if you don’t like it. I have emailed both guys from Wilton and my rep is Mr. Hall and he was not in favor of this.

    Another thing they are against is any 2nd amendment infringement that may be put forth by the dems. They are however in favor of convention of states proposition for term limits. Contact your rep and senators and join convention of states so we can get the lifers out of d.c.

  18. I live in Farmington....there are other legislature reps in the area. I know that most if not all republicans did
    Not support this. Bigger government and more government control is never a good thing. Just my opinion!!

  19. Reality Reality,
    I didn't provide a complete list of all the things the Dems agree up to that I don't like. Ha.
    There are things the Reps do that I'm not crazy about as well. For instance not providing a stronger candidate for Gov last time and handing it to Janet from another planet. See, I spread my displeasure evenly.
    It upset you that i simply stated my opinion about the fact that the Dems are still the Tax and Spenders they've always been. Currently taxing to throw money at being illegal people to Portland where they get assistance that resident Mainers don't get handed to them.
    And oh btw,, remember when our state finally paid our debt to our own hospitals like any responsible people do? (Last Governor made th hat happen, you'll likely deny it).
    Well guess who isn't paying the hospitals again?
    Yes indeed not only is Janet squandering the surplus money Paul left in the bank, she's also doing the "delayed" payments to our hospitals.....like all good Democrats do.
    Why pay hospitals when you can give that money away to illegals..?? Right.

    No one has to push anything "onto" the Dems. They're causing their own chaos.
    I actually feel bad for my good Dem friends who are watching their party evolve into the loony bin it has become.

    Many of us are seeking better and are pissed at both partys.
    Please forgive me if I don't obey your command to stop.
    If you are partisan, that's a bad thing.

  20. Sorry to be late to the debate here, my internet was slowed down by a yeti who stumbled over my power line after it was covered in slush from legislators driving too fast on Route 3

    A modest proposal that might help is a graduated fuel tax. We have the technology to collect tolls on the roll, so it should not be too tough to vary the per gallon or per kilowatt surcharge based on the vehicle's and the vehicle owner's ability to pay. Someone with a turbo engine and an address on the gold coast would pay substantially more per unit than me with my Chevette in North Sebago. Merrill Transport and Cianbro trucks would pay more than Sandy the Chimney sweep who runs a small shop and uses a pickup for most of his/her trips.

    Yes the math to do this might be a bit of a challenge, but we've developed some wicked smart algorithm developers up to Limestone. Put them on it.

  21. According to Bangor Daily News today she has even dismissed the bill for online gambling. Don’t need that revenue I guess just raise taxes on workers and keep giving them the shaft. Might be wise to buy stock in vaseline if she is going to be there 3 more years.

  22. Reality Mike,
    Haha, nothing to do with political parties but FYI Lepage (Florida Man) was running the show in 2013 when Mike's "story" happened. Just sayin.

    Mike, that stinks. Sorry that happened but it sounds like the State system sided with you both times but the private business insurance (?) did not. Correct me if that is wrong. It sounds like the person whom you once employed was just a dirt bag. I've met a few far and in between but they are out there in majority of good people. Sometimes you just can't win with determined people who play dirty like that. I can see your anger but I don;t see how everything is so easily tied to politics and especially how it can be blamed on just one party. People in both parties ruin the system and make it better, they just do it differently. In the end it's people, certain manipulative selfish people who use public positions for personal gain, they are in all parties.

  23. To same old blame game
    Pertaining to Mikes comment , you said the state didn't fail him on this particular issue, at this particular time. And you acknowledged that Florida man Paul was the Gov when the state did the right thing....
    Thank you for being honest about a good thing Gov Paul stood for. (Or was that a reverse blame game you were attempting that backfired)?

    I don't know where you're coming from but I agree politicians are off the rails and both major parties are whacked.
    I don't particularly care for our current Presidents lack of manners but *like Gov Paul," he is a political outsider who is shaking up a system that is in need of a complete flush.
    Draining it is not a pretty site.

    Btw,, what's wrong with Florida? Ha.

  24. Same old,

    The worker's comp laws are slightly different in each state and these laws are written and passed by the
    State legislature. Our state has been controlled by the Dems for decades, except for the few years that Gov
    Lepage was in power with Republican control of the legislature. He made alot of good changes and saved
    The state alot of money and paid our debts, etc. When i was fighting this ridiculous worker's comp claim i
    Learned alot about the rules and laws written into our very liberal worker's comp program. MIMIC is the
    Biggest provider in Maine and was my carrier. I was told within a few months, by my own lawyer from the
    Insurance provider, that i should just settle with him because i will lose in the end. I refused!!! I wanted to
    Fight the false claim because i knew that i would end up paying for it in the long run with higher premiums.
    I fought it for 14 months!!! Here is a shocking fact, right outta the mouth of the worker's comp lawyer who
    Represented me. The employee doesn't need to prove he/she got hurt at your business, the employer must
    Prove that he didn't!!! Now how in the hell do you do that??? Now i will tell you more details. This guy was
    Not lazy, my employees and i spotted him all around the area delivering firewood, hauling scrap metal, and
    Best of all....he did some carpentry work and helped build a very large barn in the area. A friend told me and
    I raced over with my video recorder and filmed him climbing all over the roof of that barn. I submitted that
    20 minute video to worker's comp which proved that he was not suffering from a "devastating back injury"
    That was soooooo severe he couldn't even piss without extreme pain. MIMIC surveillance got him on tape
    Hobbling in and out of a doctor using a cane and neck brace the very day after i filmed him on that roof. My
    Video was never used in my defense. His lawyer, 100% free for him (paid by MIMIC i think) got a letter from
    A doctor somewhere that stated that the plaintiff had a back injury. That's all he needed!!! I had 5 employees
    Who submitted statements that they never witnessed any work injury. Butt i couldn't PROVE that he DIDN'T
    Get hurt at my mill. I fought to the very end....the day of the final judgement...a hearing in Augusta in front of
    The judge!!! 15 minutes before we were to see the judge my lawyer said these words to me " Mike, when you
    walk thru that door and go in front of the judge, you will lose and this guy will get a large settlement and
    MIMIC will pay and then we are done, you are on your own and this guy will haunt you for life. But, if you will
    Agree to a settlement right now, we will get him to sign a document that frees MIMIC and you from any future
    Claims by this man" That scared me!!! I was forced to settle!!! Maine is one of the states that allows claims
    To be filed after an employee is terminated. I am sure there are many states that have some sort of law like
    this. But why give bad people 60 days to file claims, 30 days is not enough??? This is liberalism gone crazy!!!

  25. If its reality your looking for you have to start at the beginning like why can we make payments on bonds plus interest but cant save the money to begin with. Living to the full extent of what you make then borrowing more has never worked but we as a state keep trying. I can promise you that the "I WANT EVERYTHING NOW" attitude is only great when you can pay for it. My uncle was an Oxford Paper Co. man and lived in a very modest home in Rumford. Staying there summers as a schoolboy I often wondered about this as I knew he made good wages. It was explained to me on one smoldering hot day as we took an evening ride. As we went by this paved driveway and fancy home my uncle simply looked back at me and said "I work for that man and he doesn't know where his next meal is coming from". Its been a lifelong work in progress to try to understand everything that simple statement was trying to tell me. Good Luck.

  26. @HRTLSS BSTRD

    Your numbers are way off. GHG due to electricity generation is very small. 7% of CO2 for electric generation from all sources. The vast majority 90% or so for transportation fuels and home heating.

    The Bi Annual report is here:
    https://www.maine.gov/dep/publications/reports/index.html

    It's a little confusing because of how they bucketize everything. They chart on page 6 shows energy accounting for 90%, but that is not energy generation. All petroleum products, regardless of where they are consumed are in that number. The chart by sector on page 9 is a little clearer. Although it's clear that energy generation is minimal contributor to GHGs, it still confuses what the end use is. For instance 'industrial' could be for transportation, heating, or process.

Categories

Archives