Here's Something: May 30

34

Welcome to another edition of Boos and Bravos, the quick-hit, catch-all column of Here’s Something:

BOO to the Portland City Council, which says it’s trying to penny-pinch while developing the new budget, but never loses a chance to gouge the helpless property taxpayer.

While there’s much talk about a new fire engine and new homeless shelter, more attention should be paid to the overall tax rate, which, at last report, would increase almost 4 percent to $23.37 per $1,000 of valuation. On a $240,000 home in Portland, that’s a whopping $5,608 property tax bill.

Rather than debating the merits of building one homeless shelter, city leaders should probably consider building a few dozen shelters for all the soon-to-be-impoverished taxpayers.

Who cares for the taxpayer? Not the City Council and spendthrift School Board. High taxes will cause residents to flood the exits.

BRAVO to billionaire Robert Smith for paying off about $40 million in student loans for the 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College. He’s the latest proof that American philanthropy is making a comeback.

When I was a kid in the 1980s, there wasn’t much talk about philanthropy. The Me Generation ruled and “greed was good,” as Gordon Gekko exclaimed in the 1987 movie “Wall Street.” The only time we heard about charitable giving on any large scale was from our history teacher talking about the great philanthropists of the Gilded Age – people like steel magnate Andrew Carnegie and oil tycoons John D. Rockefeller Sr. and Jr.

Smith isn’t the only millionaire or billionaire giving back in a meaningful way these days. Microsoft’s Bill Gates and hedge fund manager Warren Buffett created “The Giving Pledge” in 2010 and so far have received pledges from 191 billionaires from around the world, who have promised to give away the majority of their wealth within their lifetimes. That’s amazing.

Millionaires and billionaires get a bad rap from fault-finding millennials and scapegoat-seeking socialist politicians, but such large-scale charitable acts show the wealthy are seeing beyond themselves again. “Giving is good,” Gekko’s 2019 successor might say.

BOO to the Maine House and Senate for passing a bill preventing parents from withholding vaccines from their children on philosophical and religious grounds. And a preemptive BOO to Gov. Janet Mills for going back on her campaign promise to support parents who don’t want to vaccinate. (As of this writing, Mills had yet to sign the bill, but was expected to do so.)

While it’s silly to forego vaccinations that can keep a child from getting sick, I respect the parents’ wishes to do as they see fit when it comes to their child’s health. I don’t want the government getting involved with the inner workings and decisions of the family unit.

The federal or state government also shouldn’t force a pill down someone’s throat or stick someone’s arm no matter how much it benefits the greater community. In America, minorities should have rights even when the utilitarian needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

What’s interesting here is that Mills and her fellow Democrats have shown themselves to be logically inconsistent when it comes to respecting a mother’s ability to choose how to care for their child. Regarding abortion, Democrats are fine with allowing a mother to choose. But with vaccines Democrats are telling the mother she has no right to choose. Why the double standard?

Unbridled Democrat governance, as we now have in Maine, is a tangled web, ain’t it?

John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, lives in Windham.