DATE: 10/04/2004 01:53:00 PM
Maine Ballot Questions - There will be two citizen referendum questions on the ballot this November in the state of Maine.
Question One - Capping Taxes
The first asks Mainers a very simple question:
Do you want to limit property taxes to 1% of the assessed value of the property?I will be voting yes on this one, even though I believe Palesky is not a well-written piece of leglsiation. The tax and regulation burden in Maine is terrible, and is hurting the overall business climate. Maine needs to shrink the size of its government, and especially its school system. There are too many districts, too many superintendants and way too many administrators. Schools eat up 68% of property tax revenue in most municipalities, and school spending shows no signs of abating anytime soon.
Maine needs to find a new funding formula for the schools, and needs to consolidate existing districts into larger regions. Palesky is far from perfect, but this is another situation where we cannot allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. Palesky will show the state and municipal government in Maine that we're tired of the crushing burden that taxes are putting on those who live and work here.
Having said all of that, I think Question One will be defeated. The scare campaign by the anti-tax cap group is very effective.
Question Two - "We're Here, We're Queer, We Don't Want Any More Bears..."
Sorry, this issue presented a perfect opportunity to quote "The Simpsons." Question Two asks another seemingly simple question:
Do you want to make it a crime to hunt bears with bait, traps or dogs, except to protect property, public safety or for research?This question would ban so-called "bear baiting," the practice of placing treats in the woods to attract bears so you can then shoot them. I'm not a hunter, but I'm not anti-hunting. I think hunting is necessary to thin the populations of certain animals and an activity with a rich tradition in Maine.
But I'm voting for this ban.
Last year, I read a book called "Dominion" by Matthew Scully. In the book, Scully makes a powerful argument for the humane treatment of animals. As the title implies, Scully is a believer in the Christian doctrine of dominion, which says that God gave man power over animals. As Uncle Ben says, though, with great power comes great responsibility:
"Animals are more than ever a test of our character, of mankind's capacity for empathy and for decent, honorable conduct and faithful stewardship. We are called to treat them with kindness, not because they have rights or power or some claim to equality, but in a sense because they don't: because they all stand unequal and powerless before us."Scully's book is powerful because he doesn't try to draw some sort of false equality between animals and people. He's not interested in "animal rights." He prefers to think of humane treatment of animals as an obligation given to us by God.
When God gave us dominion over the animals, I don't think factory farming and bear-baiting are what He had in mind. He wanted us to use animals for food, clothing and other basic needs, but not to abuse the gift given to us. I believe bear-baiting is an abuse of that gift and that's the main reason I'll be voting for the ban.