Talking to the Governor about Conversion
25 May 2005
From: Bruce Gagnon
The Governor of Maine, John Baldacci (Democrat), was the guest on a one-hour call-in show today on Maine Public Radio (MPR). He was talking about how he is fighting the base closing process. The Pentagon is recommending the closure of Maine's Portsmouth Naval shipyard and dramatically down-sizing the Brunswick Naval Air Station. About 6,000 jobs would head to the south.
I was the first caller to come on line and I stated that local communities have become overly dependent on military spending. I said it would be good to see the governor spending as much time educating the public about the need for conversion of the military industrial complex. I went on to say that we need the governor to be more vocal and proactive about creating sustainable technologies development. Why can't we build windmills, solar systems, and rail systems for public transit, I asked? With gas prices rising the way they are we need to be looking toward public mass transit. Years ago Maine had a statewide passenger rail system. Why can't we be building one again?
I concluded the call by saying that creating new jobs in the sustainable technology field would make Maine more independent -- less reliant on the boom-and-bust cycles of military spending.
The second caller and the last caller raised these same points. Only one caller mourned the loss of military production in Maine. It reminds me of the story a friend recently told me. She is a business woman in southern Maine who was interviewed by MPR the day it was announced that the Portsmouth naval yard would close. The reporter went into her business and asked for reaction to the closing. My friend told her that she was glad it was closing and the state needed to get on with the task of developing jobs other than military production. The reporter told my friend that "Nearly everyone I interview is telling me that. Lots of people who call the radio station are saying the same thing."
Is it not possible that growing numbers of people are tired of the war economy? Is it possible that people are longing for the day when they can make a living doing something other than preparing for the destruction of the world? The time has come to move from a war economy to a peace economy. It is our tax dollars. What kind of a country and economy do we want?