Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Hump Day!

Wednesday. Hump day. I’m not sure what I’m humping anymore, now that I’m a retired gent. But it is Wednesday, the middle of the work week. When I worked for a living as many people continue to do, this day signaled that the week was heading back down toward the weekend. It would be then that most of us would energize for the next coming week.

Then there were some of us that really didn’t get that energizing chance. I worked two jobs, my full time weekday job and a part time weekend job. It was necessary to earn enough to keep my family together, yet it stole my time from my family. Both my wife and I did spend as much time as we could with our kids, but probably not enough.

They didn’t turn out too badly, though. Our daughter has a college degree in accounting and is a benefits specialist in a Maine organization. She’s also becoming super certified in benefits administration. She also spends most weekends taking care of her aging parents. Our son has a Masters degree in mathematics and is a certified teacher in a western state. He withdrew from his math PhD program when he said he no longer could take the politics involved.

On this hump day I find myself reflecting on some citizen initiatives being readied for circulation. A citizen’s initiative is also called a People’s Veto and seeks to change a law passed by the legislature. The two laws addressed in these initiatives were passed very late in the last session. One deals with the so-called Real I.D. that the federal government wants. The other ones, there are two of them, deal with a huge tax increase on Maine citizens passed in the wee hours of the last session.

I’ve decided I won’t support the first one. Although I frequently sign such petitions to they will at least appear on the ballot so all citizens can be heard even if I oppose them, I’ll pass on this one. I honestly see no threat to my freedom with the Real I.D. which is designed to give some conformity to identifying American citizens and legal immigrants who are here legitimately.

When my wife and I took one of our month long summer vacations a couple of years ago, we had to show identification that showed who we were both entering Canada and re-entering the United States. Passports served that purpose and there was no hassle on either side of the border. But a passport is a bulky document to have to carry all the time.

I haven’t checked this one out since we do have passports, but I understand there’s talk of a small card citizens can get, for a “slight” fee of course, that allows crossing to and from Canada. As I understand it, the Real I.D. sort of serves like a passport. It would be required to board commercial aircraft, ships, trains, and enter Federal facilities. The authority knowing who I am is for my benefit as well as theirs.

It sort of reminds me of a visit to a bank not too long ago. As I attempted to make a rather large withdrawal, the teller politely asked me for identification. I looked at her and simply smiled and said, “Thank you for protecting my money.” Her look was that of surprise as she told me most people begin shouting at the insult. That’s the way I look at Real I.D. It’s an attempt to protect me.

The other initiatives, though, are a different matter. Unlike the Read I.D. act, which had full legislative review and hearings before passage, the new tax law was passed late at night with no advanced warning, no public hearing, no full public legislative review. And it’s going to cost Mainer’s between 50 and 70 million dollars in beverage taxes and insurance claims.

I’ve discussed this numerous times in recent days so I won’t go into a full discussion here. My only concern is there are two separate drives for this People’s Veto. One headed by two people very closely associated with Maine government and the Democrat Party which is responsible for the new taxes, and the other by young college Republicans in Bangor.

I’ve read some speculation that the biggest drive, spearheaded by a coalition of many businesses and organizations, is more of a smoke screen and that the two leaders will reach a deal with the governor before it gets to a vote if the drive succeeds.

I will sign a petition when I see one. They should be available from the Secretary of State’s office within a few days. And if it does indeed get to the November elections, I will vote to repeal the new tax law. I only hope the speculation around one of the drives is only that, speculation.

So a lot to reflect as we pass the hump.


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