All Maine Matters

March 2006



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The Man of Steel
By Mark J. Ellis

“You can’t hurt the man of steel,” I would claim victoriously with my hands on my hips in the most rigid pose I could muster.

Sam would smile and retreat with tired arms and smarting fists. He was completely aware that the torrent of punches he had just delivered to his dad’s abdomen had no affect at all.

The last time I remember playing The Man of Steel with my son Sam was seven years ago at the mall. We were waiting for Mom and Sister to finish their well choreographed but excruciating ballet to and from the fitting rooms at Filene’s. Amid the annoying squeak and click of hangers on the clothing racks, six-year-old Sam and I snuck away to an isolated aisle. We played our game to our hearts’ content and it ended the same way it always did – the man of steel was unscathed.

“Okay Sam, it’s my turn. And you better watch out! I’m going to knock you into next week,” I growled jokingly as I added a new twist to our game.

The menacing sneer on my face came easily as I tapped into the mood of the rainy Sunday afternoon. At first, Sam was surprised and shrank back like a frightened mouse that had been trapped in a corner by a big, hungry cat. And then, as he took a brave step forward, an expression of sincere hope quickly blossomed on his face.

“Dad, can you send me to Friday? That’s the day of our school roller skating party,” he announced.

I knelt down and hugged him as I laughed my way to tears. Sam’s cleverness had taken me by surprise. Then I took pause as I recognized that his response had been engineered by his desire to discover opportunities where none should exist. At that moment, the grand piano of parental responsibility came crashing down on me from the top floor. Once again, I was reminded of my most important job as a parent.

Maintaining an environment that promotes the growth of high self-esteem is just as vital to raising children as providing the staples of food, clothing, education, and shelter. It is the hinge on which the door to all of our relationships opens and closes. High self-esteem is the key to the Golden Rule of treating others the way we want to be treated.

With high self-esteem, our children will develop into caring and contributing members of the communities we love. They will make the best decisions in the most difficult of circumstances and they will choose light and life in a culture of darkness and death.

As parents, the most precious tool we have to help us instill high self-esteem in our children is time. Time is the resource that, if not invested in early and often with our young ones, will compound exponentially into corrective requirements that will burden our communities unnecessarily in the future.

Living in the highest taxed state in the union, parents in Maine are being robbed of precious time. The Tax Foundation ( reported that in 2005, Mainers had to work from January 1 st to April 23 rd just to pay their taxes. That is six days longer than the national average and approximately ten days more than what is required to purchase food, clothing, and medical care combined.

In the upcoming campaign for state offices, we will hear from our liberal friends that increases in state and local taxes are to be blamed on the federal government and, more specifically, President Bush’s policies that have cut federal contributions to the states. The fact of the matter is that even as the federal portion of our tax burden has decreased since 2000, federal aid to states has increased 31%. During the same period, state government spending in Maine has increased 18% -- the second highest increase in the nation.

Pardon me for stating the obvious but, Maine doesn’t have a tax problem; we have a spending problem!

The size and scope of our state government have reached crisis proportions. We need to reverse the trend of government growth so that families can spend more time together and less time paying their tax burden. We need to change course before we lose another generation to the culture of irresponsibility and dependency.

Giving time back to parents will be, in a phrase often used by liberals, “good for the children.”

Mark J. Ellis is the Director of Information Technology at Douglas Dynamics, LLC and is the State Chairman of the Maine Republican Party. He resides in Augusta with his wife Rachel and their three children.

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