2012-02-20 / Opinion

Monday Meter

Thumbs Up — A tree grows in Georgetown

The Georgetown Board of Selectmen merits praise for the rational and measured way it handled the hubbub related to State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin’s participation in the Tree Growth program.

Rather than reaching for bait set out by groups with a political ax to grind with Poliquin, the board treated his issue — fairly — like any other resident’s.

Town officials will explore each of the properties in Georgetown that receive Tree Growth program tax breaks to ensure that they comply. Given that the program’s guidelines essentially define compliance as harvesting a pine cone or two for commercial purposes — or planning to do so in the future — it’s unlikely that egregious violations will emerge.

In a political environment marked by patronage and rampant abuse of power by government officials, it’s reasonable to raise questions about the propriety of Poliquin’s Tree Growth program tax break. However, it’s unfair to leave those questions unanswered intentionally to cast doubts about his integrity.

Thank you to the Georgetown selectmen for injecting sanity into this element of the Poliquin controversy by recognizing that singling him out for special scrutiny tips the scales of justice and undermines good governance in the same way that preferential treatment does.

Thumbs Down — People over personhood

So-called “personhood” bills, which would define fetuses as people and assign constitutional rights to them, won passage in the Oklahoma Senate and Virginia House of Delegates last week.

In an election year, it’s not surprising that these tools of the anti- abortion movement would gain traction. But they do make one wonder about the priorities of lawmakers in those states.

Unable to provide for the well-being of thousands of children who have been born, these legislative bodies’ obsession with the unborn seems misplaced and smacks of public policy based on pandering to a special interest group.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority noted that as of October 2011, the most recent reporting date, 624,480 Oklahomans, or 17.03 percent of the population, lacked health care. Of that total, 119,747 were age 18 or younger.

The Virginia Health Care Foundation found that 13.2 percent of that commonwealth’s population younger than 65 (889,000) was uninsured as of 2010. The majority are members of working families.

It’s easier to give rights to fetuses than to address conditions that deprive children of what should be basic American rights — but that doesn’t make it right.

Thumbs Up & Down — Can we go full circle again?

Fifty years ago today, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth in a manned spacecraft.

Glenn’s heroism opened full throttle a glorious era of discovery, hope and constructive application of the scientific method in this country.

As we honor Glenn’s epic voyage today, it’s sad to see how deeply dormant that zeal to elevate humanity has become as the nation focuses on temporal matters and the science of war.


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