Maybe the kids can work creating electricity

Maybe the kids can work creating electricity

By Pat LaMarche
Posted June 07, 2011, at 6:35 p.m.
I’m glad to see that Maine’s finally getting her priorities straight when it comes to business and the work place. Aren’t you just sick and tired of seeing all those senior citizens working the checkout at grocery stores and in fast food joints? Now that the governor has signed the new “kids can work their butts off during the school week” law maybe those old people will go home to eat their dog food where we don’t have to look at them.

I mean really, staring at poor elders is just going to make it that much harder for us to roll over when our representatives cut their Medicare.

But back to the new law; imagine all the naming options they had. There was the “kids don’t need to study because we’re closing their schools anyway.” I thought that would be a particularly good choice for Orland where the RSU 25 school board voted to do just that. Or how about “kids don’t need friends or after-school activities.” That’s my favorite seeing as all that time I spent working on my high school yearbook and volunteering at St. Joseph’s Hospital only helped me get into college.

But now our young people will be able to put all their time and effort into pursuing their futures as minimum-wage earners and we’ll be rid of those old people trying to earn a few extra bucks for necessities because the youngsters will have their jobs — even though a kid’s real job had been getting an education.

Why do old people work anyway? Well, if you check out the state of Maine website Elder Services page you can see that — on average — 10 percent of Maine’s elderly are below the federal poverty level. By the way, that’s the same level used in warm states such as Alabama, but the Alabamans don’t have to buy heating oil.

And speaking of cold, if you check out the stats on the elderly in Aroostook County, the proportion of impoverished elders is over 15 percent. Or about 1 in 6 for all you lucky high school kids about to pour every nonschool hour into bagging groceries rather than doing your pesky math homework.

But no worries, the governor says “it’s not a big deal,” to have kids take even more hours of the work week from adults who need to provide for a household.

So if rolling back child labor laws isn’t a big deal, what is? Well it turns out that private-public cooperation in the search for alternative energy sources is.

And before anyone comments that environmentalist are with the governor in his opposition to wind farming in Maine — save your time. I’ve earned my tree-hugging creds the good old-fashioned way and just like blacks, Jews and even Republicans aren’t all alike, neither are environmentalists.

In fact, a whole slug of my environmentalist buddies who think exactly like I do about embracing wind power instead of fossil fuels are marching in West Virginia this week to stop the destruction of Blair Mountain. And I don’t mean they’re trying to stop someone from building a couple of wind turbines on it — I mean a kaboom 500 times larger than the Oklahoma City bombing kind of destruction — and all because energy-hungry Americans think any price is OK to pay for electricity.

No, not the higher cost — aka the 11 cents Ken Fletcher from the Governor’s Office of Energy Independence and Security says wind power amounts to — but the “laying waste to West Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains to mine cheap coal which continues mucking up the environment once burned” price.

As for those environmentalists who I think are hung up on NIMBY (not in my back yard) and not ecology, ask yourselves, “Do I really belong on the same side of an issue as the governor? Can he be wrong on everything — including child labor — and not on this?”

Pat LaMarche of Yarmouth is the author of “Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States.” She may be reached at

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