Letter writer Ryan Jones insists BIW unions support Sen. Susan Collins because she “works hard for us and our shipyard.” Has there ever been a legislator from Maine who didn’t “support” BIW and work to get bills and budgets signed that favor the shipyard in military work? I think we’d all be hard pressed to name one. It comes with the job.
The real question – one so important to Maine’s future – is, where are the legislators that are willing to look at the issue of military job diversification in our state? Who is willing to prepare for future shifts in war technology and (one hopes) a move to a peacetime economy? What about when the Pentagon simply tightens its budget, as it is preparing to do once again?
Almost 10 percent of Maine’s economy is dependent on defense contracts, much higher than most states. Defense spending is widely expected to suffer serious realignment in coming years, putting Maine’s already fragile economy in harm’s way.
Midcoast Citizens for Sustainable Economies (www.mainemcse.com) is greatly concerned with how such potential economic loss will affect the state and, in particular, the midcoast, which is so heavily reliant on BIW employment. The group recently held a standing-room-only public forum in Bath, and we have started to ask this question of key candidates in the fall.
Responsible government requires thoughtful planning. Maine needs a serious discussion from U.S. Senate candidates about job diversification, and how industry at BIW and other locations around the state might be diversified into non-military production, such as high-speed rail, renewable energy, and infrastructure.
Midcoast Citizens for Sustainable Economies