The Working Waterfront

Winning and losing, frugal and green, and the coffee connection

Our readers opine on a range of topics

Posted 2023-08-22
Last Modified 2023-08-22

If you win, I lose?

To the editor:

I’m glad you wrote “Pondering the poverty question” (Rock Bound, June issue). I agree with everything you said, and hope to read Poverty, by America. I think it’s important to point out the costs to everyone, not just the poor, of our current system.

I recently read a book that expands on this point: The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee. While it focuses on the costs of racism for everyone, its points can be expanded to apply to any division that pits one group against another. It’s got lots of insights, good solid facts, and a unifying, practical, and realistic approach to improving life for everyone.

McGhee uses data, history, her own experiences, and stories about people she’s met to lay out the costs of racism to all of us, of all races, in the past and now.

“Zero sum thinking,” in which “if you win, I lose,” she says, is used to divide us and weaken the ability of the majority to enact policies and programs that will benefit everyone—universal health care coverage, paid sick leave, safe neighborhoods, good schools, and clean environments.

She contrasts the experiences of workers who failed at organizing for better conditions because they were divided by race with the experience of those workers who succeeded in getting better conditions by joining in a multiracial coalition. Our diversity can be our “super power,” McGhee writes, and gives examples of how decisions on such matters as injuries and work places are better when different kinds of people are included and heard. Her last chapter, “The Solidarity Dividend,” features Lewiston and the benefits there of welcoming immigrants. I came away from this book feeling better informed and more optimistic about what we can all accomplish together to make life better for us all.

Susan Payne
Cape Elizabeth


Lobster gear help

To the editor:

I read with great interest the story in the April issue of The Working Waterfront about the testing in Massachusetts of on-demand gear as a way of minimizing or eliminating vertical ropes used in the lobster fishery. While there is, obviously, much to be learned about the new gear, I was disturbed by the simple dismissal of the technology by the Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries and the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association.

I understand that it might be expensive to implement, but I believe there’s a way. Last summer, I asked quite a few pleasure boaters (I am one) if they have ever been hung up on buoy lines. Without exception, they each said “every year.”

Having a line wrapped around your prop or hung up on the rudder is more than embarrassing. It can be expensive to remove (divers around here get a couple of hundred dollars just to go into the water) and dangerous as well.

When I then posed the question, “Would you pay an extra ten or 15 cents a gallon if the money was earmarked to purchase on-demand gear for the lobster fishery, they all said yes (some said make it 25 cents). My point is just that a potential economic impact should not be enough to scuttle the trials of the gear. If it works, ways can be found to pay for it.

Mike Hays
Bass Harbor

Clean up the mess

To the editor:

Reading Phil Crossman’s column on meeting that Roberts fellow (Observer, “A supreme encounter on Vinalhaven,” June issue) brought to mind a similar encounter I experienced on Port Clyde’s Hupper Island, where Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has a home.

While shucking oysters at an island party, I chatted with this friendly guy while his wife and kids played alongshore, oblivious of what he did for work. Eventually I figured it out. Maybe he enjoyed being treated as just another island summer person. I handed him some oysters on the half shell.

I must add that this pleasant memory is overshadowed by blatantly unjust court rulings, from pro-corporate “Citizens United” to retracting voting rights to overturning the established law of Roe v. Wade. On top of that, Roberts refuses to acknowledge ethics violations on his court, and refuses to talk to Congress unless it suits him.

If Justice Roberts wonders why his court has lost credibility with the public, he should review the court’s decisions and the disgraceful conduct of certain justices. Clean up the mess, your honor.

Steve Cartwright
Tenants Harbor

Coffee connection

To the editor:

Regarding the story in the June issue about the Berwind (“The tragic end of MDI’s Capt. Rumill”) and the role that bad coffee played in the mutiny, one recalls the name of a character in the novel Moby Dick, Mr. Starbuck, who was one of Capt. Ahab’s first mates on the Pequod.

Though he is described as a Quaker in the novel, his last name refers to a Middle Eastern deity of many centuries ago and of course is the name of a coffee shop franchise we’re familiar with today.

Thanks for the great story.

Nanny Schultz

Frugal and green

To the editor:

Interesting article on the problem of recycling boat shrink wrap (May issue, “The not-so-small problem of shrink wrap,” reported by the Maine Monitor).

As a boat owner of many years I know all too well about the twice-seasonal process involved with installing and removing this wonderful product. It’s very expensive at the outset, as any boater will attest!

Many people probably don’t realize that if removed carefully it can be reused. I am on year six with my wrap. I also have friends who do the same. It is not difficult to reinstall and then using heat to retighten, continue its use.

How Maine is that! Frugal and green. Any rips are easily repaired with appropriate tape.

I do enjoy your paper.

Tom Haley

The Working Waterfront welcomes letters to the editor. Please send them to editor Tom Groening at with LTE in the subject line. Letters should be about 300 words and address issues that the newspaper covers. We also print longer opinion pieces, but please clear them first with the editor.