Bruce Gagnon’s extensive research and outreach has pulled together a great many people from various walks of life in this campaign opposing LD 1781. We are standing for what we believe to be fair and right for people and planet rather than for profit.

Bruce Gagnon is my friend. He is a gifted organizer and a person who passionately believes that militarism and corporate hierarchy have led us in a dangerous direction. I couldn’t agree more and, though I’m concerned about the health risks of Bruce’s hunger strike, I admire his determination to do everything he can to raise our awareness at this vital and teachable moment.

Too many of our legislators are of a different mind. They seem to be afraid of the corporate hierarchy that demands tax breaks where they are clearly not needed. General Dynamics is playing games with our tax dollars and, by extension, with the social needs those tax dollars offer to the people of Maine.

The tax break in question – LD 1781 – is said to be essential to keeping Bath Iron Works competitive. Bath Iron Works is owned by General Dynamics which, as we know, is a weapons manufacturer funded by the vast Pentagon budget. I don’t need to repeat here all the detail we’ve heard so much about lately. Simply put, the dollar amounts that General Dynamics is investing in stock buybacks serve to increase profits for shareholders, rather than wages for skilled ship builders.

The work that General Dynamics has given Bath Iron Works to do is to build weapons of war, aptly called destroyers. In the several years before General Dynamics bought BIW, there was very serious consideration given to converting to civilian shipbuilding. Sadly, the United States subsidizes construction of military ships, not commercial ones and so General Dynamics came into the picture.

Now we can see more clearly the urgency of diversification and conversion. BIW, by constructing products sorely needed to combat the double crisis of economy and climate, has great power to move us in a sustainable direction.
Some will want to jump in here to discuss the merits of defense in a dangerous world. We all know the argument. If we don’t build these war ships, then the U.S. Empire won’t be able to dominate the shipways/airways and territories of all the many nations with resources we want to control.

That argument has become very tired. History has given us one empire after another in a great chess game of power. At some point, one of them will stop to think about their own long-range self interest. They will listen to a wiser definition of power, another interpretation of courage, another view of wealth. That moment could be now, the choice could be made by us. This particular tax credit gives us a great opportunity for considering a move away from both corporate hierarchy and militarism.

The very kindest thing I can say to our legislators is that with a “yes” vote on LD 1781 they will be voting to be left behind with the old sad story.

The very kindest thing the legislators can say to General Dynamics is “no, the social needs budget of the people of Maine comes first.”

Rosalie Paul