Legislative update for 2017-06-30
Well, it’s Friday, and time for an update. Today has every indication of being a long day in the legislature as we have to complete the work not the budget. We have been told to expect a day that can last into the wee hours of the morning.
And so I wonder, based on this experience with the budget - one question.
Where is there a “noble” person? or - Where have all the heroes gone?
I can so clearly recall being in Grade 10 history and studying the French Revolution. Prior to the revolution, the nobleman of France felt that they had an obligation to care for the poor - what they themselves called “nobless oblige” - an obligation of the nobles to be sure that the serfs were somehow sustained.
Of course, their motivation was entirely selfish, as they knew the working peasants would create income to maintain their lavish life style. In the long term, it couldn’t work, but for the time, it provided an economic theory which kept society stable and productive - of course, until the peasants realized they were being used and eventually they rebelled.
The rest is a nasty history of the guillotine.
Yet, where is that generosity in Maine today? Where are the people able and willing to help support the system?
The 3% surcharge may have been fundamentally flawed, and most likely will not live to see the light of day. It is a “Robin Hood” tax, but that is due to the idea that the wealthy are not supportive of the rest of society. For some, there is never enough.
Yet, every person I spoke with on the subject who has the ability to help pay the cost of education was willing to contribute their three cents on the dollar to make sure that our students had an education to match their future needs.
I think sometimes of other contributing and generous individuals. Facebook inventor Mark Zuckerberg has given away 95% of his earning to create a better world. Bill Gates has established a foundation as well to create better schools. Almost every town in America has a library in part created by Andrew Carnegie.
And in Maine, we are so surely indebted to two families. The Rockefellers built Mt. Desert Island into what we know today. That national park earns its reputation as an extension of the Rockefeller largesse.
And the Alfond family in Maine has earned a reputation as a family interested in Maine welfare by contributing to almost every college and university in the state. (I remember having met Harold Alfond when I worked in Dexter Shoe, and wonder sometime what my own life would have been like had I accepted the job he offered me. But, alas, I had signed my first contract as a teacher and the rest is history.)
We have lots of examples of nobless oblige - both historical and contemporary. And, we have many families able to make the contribution of 3%. This link from the Portland Press Herald clearly demonstrates that the wealth is present to make the referendum a reality. LINK- http://news360.com/article/408605971
What we are missing in today’s Maine is the kind of willingness to support the public good, to make and sustain the common good. What we need most of all is common sense for the common good.
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