Saturday, September 09, 2006

YWCA closes, newspapers temporize, community loses

The following is offered from the perspective of my service as a Pro-Bono (worked without salary) United Way Loaned Executive in 1999.

YWCA’s failure is our own


Thank you to Ed Beem for having the courage to identify the real meaning of the closure of the YWCA. I have yet to find local newspaper coverage that addresses the matter in anything other than what one might find in a business section: armchair quarterbacking the organization's decision making. The YWCA board included one of the highest officers of our most prominent local financial institutions, as well as several others well-placed among the Greater Portland leadership set. The YWCA was a United Way member organization, but each year the Greater Portland United Way struggles to equal a campaign fundraising goal that is no higher than what it raised eight years ago. No one can dispute that costs for United Way member organizations have risen substantially over the course of those same years. Health insurance rate increases by themselves are enough to put the typical non-profit under. As Mr. Beem concluded, “Shame on us.”

Olympia, Susan and their billionaires

On June 8, 2006, Senators Snowe and Collins voted in favor of complete, permanent repeal of the estate tax. (Just so there's no confusion, the estate tax is the legal name for what President Bush never fails to call the "death" tax.) Our senators think that even a billionaire’s estate should pay no tax. If you asked them, they would tell you that this will lead to a healthier economy. The Treasury will go without hundreds of millions of dollars every year, but Mainers will be better off. Programs funded by those dollars will either go without or the enormous budget deficit will yawn wider, the debt and interest payments spiraling commensurately higher. But Mainers will be better off. I wonder if they really believe that, or if somewhere inside themselves, they fear those billionaires and what they might do to their chances of reelection if displeased by their votes on this measure. Perhaps the Administration, ever on the lookout for the welfare of its billionaire backers, has Snowe and Collins convinced that the Iron Works and the Navy Yard will be shuttered if the senators oppose tax repeal. Then I guess, in that sense, we are indeed better off, or at least those workers and their families are. And they say that Snowe's seat is secure in the coming election, so I guess we can look forward to six more years of support for billionaires.