Opinion

COVID-19 exposes systemic failures

Lisa Savage, Maine [Independent Green] candidate for the U.S. Senate, promises the most comprehensive plans for systemic changes needed to meet escalating crises exposed and worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, crises that have been building for decades.

We in Aroostook are as vulnerable to these crises as those elsewhere.

This pandemic exposes justice inequalities that lead to increased crime, social unrest, drug addiction and mental illness, all increasing problems here in Aroostook. In both local news and PBS “NewsHour” reports, I hear almost daily how COVID-19 disproportionally afflicts racial minorities and the poor. Lisa promotes changes that will directly address inequalities and provide justice equality for all. 

Extreme income inequalities in our economic system victimize the poor regardless of race. Lisa will work for a minimum wage of $15 an hour, greater democratic involvement of workers in business and banking, fair-share taxing of the rich, and trade agreements that treat workers fairly. Competing with Canadian workers, Aroostook woods workers are especially vulnerable to trade agreements with Canada. 

COVID-19 exposes inequities, inefficiencies and poor outcomes of our health care system. Millions are uninsured. According to Physicians for a National Health-Care Program and Dr. Sachin Shah of Doctors for America, more than 30 percent of health-care expenses go to administrative costs, much of that in the form of outsize profits and executive salaries for the health-care industrial complex. Lisa promotes expanded and improved Medicare for All that will provide cost savings in the system and better health outcomes. Such a system will help to level the playing field for woods workers here. Canadian workers can work here for lower wages because they have a universal, single-payer system without the high premiums and co-pays that we have to pay.

In various “NewsHour” interviews, Jane Goodall has explained how environmental health and human health are closely related. She says habitat destruction forces greater interaction between wild animals and humans that allow increased transmission of disease, which is what scientists think happened with COVID-19. We now have to worry about ticks and Lyme disease creeping into Maine because of global warming. Covid 19 won’t be the last pandemic we face. We need to pivot to the Green New Deal Lisa will work for that will employ millions in clean energy solutions improving health and the economy as well as turning the disastrous tide of climate change. 

Injustices in our elections system have been growing for decades here in Maine as well as in the nation: voter suppression; an undemocratic electoral college system; campaign finance laws that result in the richest big-money interests controlling legislators. These problems have led to politicizing and worsening the pandemic.  

Dark-money powers are financing both Susan Collins and Sara Gideon with attack ads against each other that inflame division in the Legislature and in the country. These ads neither educate the public about the full context of the most serious problems we face nor offer much by way of solutions. Refusing to take corporate campaign contributions, Lisa Savage is the one with immunity to big-money corruption. Her website states she will promote “a government that works for us, not the big banks, weapons manufacturers, fossil fuel giants, and corporate lobbyists,” and she will “work for a new system that puts people, planet, and peace over profit.”

We need legislators with an expansive view of how all of our most serious problems are connected and with a vision of the future focused on solving the problems. Lisa Savage has that view and vision.  Please mark her number 1 on your ranked-choice-voting ballot, which allows voting your values without fear of the spoiler effect.

Alice Bolstridge
Presque Isle

Op-ed pieces are generally limited to one per week due to space constraints, with a 600-word limit. To allow for fairness, selections are made with respect to varying viewpoints. 

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