Thursday, December 27, 2007

Life's Quality

A sign greets folk entering Maine. It proclaims Maine, the way life should be. Our government leaders are constantly telling us we are lucky to live in a state with such a great quality of life. Someday I'm going to learn what that means. I keep trying.

Does it mean that taxation presents that quality? The last report I saw earlier this year was that only one other state taxes its people more than Maine. Much which isn't specifically taxed is covered by fees. The government tells us fees aren't a tax.

Or perhaps its because of our wonderful health insurance situation. Maine has passed laws that make buying individual insurance all but prohibitive. I'm not sure my recollection is correct, but like taxes only one state has more restrictive insurance rates. If we were allowed to buy insurance in other states, we would only need to look to our neighbor, New Hampshire, where rates are a third to a half what the costs are in Maine. Maine has driven all but a very small handful of individual health insurance carriers from the state. The government tells us we need to switch to a single payer plan like Canadians have.

Maine has winner-take-all elections. Our governor was elected by 38% of the electorate in the last elections. A number of other candidates split the other 62%. A side note: Many people on a popular Internet forum in Maine refers to him as Gov38. End note. So, he says he has a mandate to make changes. Without the input of entities involved, the governor has mandated school reform and the formation of 80 school districts. He says the savings will be in the millions. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who has been told exactly where those savings will be. But the governor says there will be savings. He has also called for the consolidation of county jails into the state penal system. Again, without ever saying how, he says the savings will be in the millions.

One of our governmental departments has "lost" several millions of dollars. Another bought questionable stocks/bonds which have been frozen for a loss of another 20 million. We're told we'll eventually get it back. Sure! To balance the current budget, our government passed a law that unspent gift card purchases be returned to the state after two years. $26M was included in the budget for that. Companies that sold such cards have sort of told the state into which sunless spot it can put that law. Oh, you should know Maine has another law that says a time limit may not be placed of gift cards.

We now have a population growth to which taxes can be spread out. Our population grew in the last census by just under 3000 people. Of course just over 2 thousand of them were new births in the state.

As the purpose states, I'll rant and rave here. And I just might expand on these and many more issues facing the state of Maine down the road.

Some people will tell me that if I don't like here, move. I do like it here; it's our government that causes me concern. I was born here in the 1930s and, except for a brief time in Florida (including matriculation at the University of Florida, hence "Gator") have lived here all my life. My wife and I own our home. We have virtually zero, except monthly expenses, debts. Our families are here. Our roots are here. It's easy to say, "Leave." It's not easy to leave.

But I sure would like to learn just what that Quality of Life and "Life the way it should be" means.


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