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home : columnists : joe steinberger
July 12, 2020 

Joe Steinberger: Our Secret War Machine
Eisenhower warned about the dangerous power of the military and its business allies. That warning did little to move us to action, even as what he called the "military industrial complex" grew in plain sight. Now, especially since 9/11, there has been huge growth in the power of the covert military and its business allies. . . .

Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Joe Steinberger: Free the Schools
Is it better for schools to be managed by professionals who are responsible to a government bureau, or is it better for them to be managed by unprofessional citizens who are responsible only to each other in their own towns and cities? The idea that it is best to have independent local schools under local citizen . . .

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Joe Steinberger: Let Rockland Grow
For many people today, change is a scary thing. There was a time in the history of our country, and in the history of our little city of Rockland, when we looked at change, and growth, as exciting and rewarding. The future was bright, progress was a good thing. Now we have become frightened . . .
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Joe Steinberger: Agents Provocateurs
I saw agents provocateurs in action in Paris, in 1980. Medical students had been marching for something. There were also many young people walking and running this way and that, seemingly just for excitement. Then we saw the police marching in formation, looking very tough. . . .

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Joe Steinberger: Substance Control
In the primitive conditions in which our species evolved many dangerous substances were unavailable in quantities that could be injurious. Today, many of these dangerous substances are widely available and plentiful. We use our knowledge and intelligence to avoid substances that might harm us . . .

Thursday, March 13, 2014
Joe Steinberger: Crimea
It takes only a look at the map of Europe to understand the importance of the Ukraine, especially of the eastern portion of it, to Russia. Access from the Eurasian hinterland to the Mediterranean has been contested throughout history. Control of the Crimea, the strategic peninsula . . .
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Joe Steinberger: Economy
What is today called economics is a subject that may be useful for those who control the government, but it is not very useful for the rest of us. Most of us do not make decisions about how to regulate the production and trade of our nation. We are busy dealing with the management of our own personal affairs. . . .
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Joe Steinberger: For Profit, or Not for Profit
I received the news this week that Rockland's Strand Theatre is being given by the heirs of Matt Simmons to a new non-profit organization called the Friends of the Strand Theatre. The movie theater, which was magnificently restored by Matt at great expense a few years ago, will now be supported . . .

Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Joe Steinberger: Liberals, Libertarians, and Republicans
What's in a word? Some meaning, presumably, but often that meaning is elusive. Right now our American political spectrum is defined as reaching from liberal, at one end, to libertarian at the other. Does it not seem odd that these supposed opposites are spelled with the same first five letters? . . .
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Joe Steinberger: Politics and Power
From the point of view of the average American, politics is a sectarian struggle. The Republicans and Democrats are like the Shiites and Sunnis in the Middle East. Here, neither party calls its sect a religion, but both believe that God is on their side. . . .
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Joe Steinberger: Screen Time
This essay is being composed on my computer screen. When I was a young man I did my writing on a typewriter. No one in his right mind would use a typewriter today. I remember the misery of composing the complaints and answers and briefs for my law practice on a typewriter . . .

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Joe Steinberger: Counting Blessings
Our moment in history has both its troubles and its blessings. Our troubles are, in this column and elsewhere, often lamented - our depleting fossil fuel reserves, global warming, the poverty of much of the world, our economic difficulties, violence, high taxes, incompetent government . . .

Thursday, December 26, 2013
Joe Steinberger: The Good Life, Continued
In my last column I proposed that a competent and hard-working young person who does not go to college can look forward to a good life in Rockland - if he makes himself useful, is careful how he spends his money, and does not too much conform to the norm. . . .

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Joe Steinberger: The Good Life in Rockland
Suppose you are 18 years old. You have finished high school and have decided that college is not for you, at least not for now. You would like to live here in Rockland and work part-time so that you will have time to pursue your interest in music and photography. . . .

Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Health, Education, Security, Food, Shelter and Fellowship
Those of us who had hopes that President Obama could repair our broken health care system have had further disappointment these last days. Obama is not smart enough, apparently, to overcome the entrenched institutions that continue to fatten themselves at our expense. . . .

Thursday, November 21, 2013
Joe Steinberger: A Common Theme
When I look back on what I have written over the years, it seems there is a common theme. It is a call to reject our extreme materialism and suggestions for how, with a different emphasis, we might make the world a happier place. It is our lot, and our nature, to be in competition with each other. . . .
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Trick, or Treat
For my son Takuma, Halloween is the most exciting day of the year. It was for me too, when I was 6 years old. For me now, it is a reminder of how much our culture has evolved from one based on popular tradition and neighborly comity to one based on commercial exploitation, and fear. I still remember the little treats my mother made with squares of homemade cake wrapped in . . .

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Joe Stenberger: The Old School
I am in the midst of an experiment in education. It is a collaboration in the creation of a school in which students have the opportunity to become knowledgeable in a wide variety of disciplines in the arts and sciences, and pay no tuition. We call it The Old School, and it is a non-profit educational organization. . . .

Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Joe Steinberger: What Is Wrong with America?
If you have seen me wandering about town lately, stooped over and looking at the ground with a frown on my face, I have been thinking, trying to answer the question that is the title of this column. Even as I write, I am still trying to work it out. Perhaps there is no one underlying cause of our malaise. I have a sense, though, that there is, that we have a problem at the root level of our . . .

Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Spare the Rod, Spoil the Wog
"They only understand force." This is an idea I remember from my youth. "They" were the Commies. This idea has not gone away. It's still applied to the Russians, but also to all nationalities of "Wily Oriental Gentlemen," as the British imperialists called them. Our prejudice cannot be so openly expressed now - it is politically incorrect - but the sentiment remains in full force. . . .
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Syria and the White Man's Burden
I wrote last week that President Obama's request for congressional approval for a strike on Syria would lead to a public debate, which would be a good thing. It has indeed proved a very good thing, and may lead to significant, and constructive, changes in American foreign policy. The United States emerged from World War II with the greatest concentration of power and wealth that . . .

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Joe Steinberger: A Case for Non-Intervention
Advocates of military intervention in the Syrian civil war say that the U.S. must punish Syria for using chemical weapons, but there is a deeper agenda. That agenda is the funding of the U.S. military industry, about whose "unwarranted influence" President Eisenhower warned us more than 50 years ago. Bombing Syria will not make the Syrian people safer. . . .
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Learning to Swim
My son Takuma, now six, learned to swim this summer. The way it happened says a lot about how people learn in general, and it's not the way we've been taught to think. Until a month ago Tak could not swim without the aid of a life jacket, or "bubbles," as the Styrofoam floats on a belt are called at the YMCA where he has taken swim lessons these past two winters. . . .

Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Joe Steinberger: The Urge to Splurge
The consumer economy is a bubble that is about to burst. Meanwhile, it has enticed us to become a nation of addicts. Perhaps the bubble analogy is not apt. Real bubbles burst almost instantaneously, while huge, sticky imaginary bubbles like the consumer economy take a bit longer. In any case, the issue is sustainability. If the thing produces its own demise, it is unsustainable and . . .
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Part 3: The Rockland Harbor Path
Whereas making our city a more pleasant and practical place to live is in the interest of its citizens and is the best way to attract new residents, visitors and business investment in our city, build our tax base and lower tax rates; and whereas the creation of a safe, scenic, and practical bicycle and walking route through our city is an excellent and inexpensive way to further this purpose . . .

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Rockland Bikeway, Part 2
Two weeks ago, I wrote about how dangerous it is to ride a bike through Rockland, and what a wonderful thing it would be to have a safe bike route for children and adults to get from one end of our city to the other. This part 2 is about what route the bikeway could take, and about a process for building the political will to make it happen. . . .

Thursday, July 18, 2013
Joe Steinberger: For a Rockland Bikeway
From the point of view of public safety, quality of life, and the economic future of Rockland, nothing could be more valuable than a safe way for children and adults to get from one end of Rockland to the other on a bicycle. I have lived in Rockland now for more than 30 years, and this is my sincere conclusion. For those who would scoff at me on this, let me ask: what do you . . .

Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Joe Steinberger: What I Learned from My Father
At 68 I am fortunate to have a 5-year-old son with whom, in semi-retirement, I can devote the time that my father, who was young and in the midst of an exciting career, did not have for me. I am also fortunate that, despite my advanced age, my father is still alive. This is a pleasure that my son Takuma will be denied. . . .
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Dad's Home Cooking
Cooking at home has long been considered a job for women, and with good reason. As we are mammals, women have a unique role, one that men, even with the best intentions, have been unable to perform. A woman must carry the next generation in her womb for nine months, and then nurse it at her breast for another year or so. Men, whose brief part in the reproductive . . .
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Down East Singers
We live in an age when entertainment has become an industry and we have increasingly become just consumers. We sit passively in front of our televisions while the "stars," backed by the industry's huge production values, dazzle us with their brilliance. This televised entertainment bears about as much resemblance to real entertainment as watching the night sky on . . .
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Hernia Diary
The great transformation of our time is from the democracy of our forefathers, i.e. government that expresses the popular will in a society that values equality and personal freedom, to a system controlled by organized interest groups for whom "freedom" has become a code word for their unbounded privileges. How far this trend has reached, and how little we . . .

Thursday, May 16, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Global Warming, a.k.a. Climate Change
Following a path that is typical of our times, the question of how our burning of fossil fuels is affecting global climate has devolved from objective research to a rancorous political debate. It doesn't seem to matter that the fundamental issue has been resolved - burning fossil fuels at the rate to which we have become accustomed is warming the earth - the "debate" . . .

Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Joe Steinberger: The Exumas
Good luck comes from your friends. I met Robie four years ago at the town landing in Rockland. I was out for a walk with my two-year-old son Takuma, noticed an interesting sailboat at the float, and decided to walk down the ramp for a closer look. Robie was aboard, fiddling with a piece of gear as I have since learned is his habit. . . .
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Never Trust a Fat Chef
My title will probably offend some readers. As a nation we have become so fat and greedy that the very words "fat" and "greed" have become politically incorrect. "People can't help it if they are fat" is the idea, but this is obviously not true. People get fat by eating too much, especially by eating too much sugar and starch. The result is an epidemic of disease. . . .
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Old, Fat, and Sick
More than two years ago I announced in this column that I had resolved to lose weight. You might think that this public declaration would have shamed me into doing it, but it didn't shame me, and I didn't lose weight. Like most Americans, I am driven by my appetites and have little discipline. We live in a decadent culture, and few of us are spared the effects. . . .
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Nobuyuki Tsujii, Pianist, at Bay Chamber
Probably you have never heard of Nobuyuki Tsujii. I hadn't either, but my wife, who is Japanese, definitely had. When tickets for his performance at Bay Chamber Concerts came on sale, Keiko immediately snapped up two front-row seats. "What a great opportunity," she told me, and waited eagerly for the performance, which was this past Sunday night. . . .

Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Lawyer of the Day
I have been plying my trade as a criminal defense lawyer for 40 years and now count myself semi-retired. This is interesting work, though, which allows me to be useful to people in need, so I am not yet ready to give it up entirely. One way that I keep my hand in is by serving from time to time as "attorney of the day" at a criminal docket call in the Rockland District Court. . . .
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Prison Reform Under LePage
My friend Lance Tapley has been writing about conditions in the Maine State Prison for the Portland Phoenix - more than 50 stories over the past eight years. Last year he won an award from the ACLU of Maine for his "outstanding advocacy for prison reform." One of Lance's principal subjects has been the abuse of solitary confinement. . . .

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Joe Steinberger: These Old Houses
We Northerners may perhaps be forgiven for thinking that global warming will have a good side. For us it may indeed be a mixed curse. A little warming, in itself, might not be so bad. On the other hand, our two huge storms this fall and winter, Sandy and the giant Nor'easter we have just experienced, may well be part of the climate change that comes with that warming.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Joe Steinberger: A Charter School in Rockland?
The idea of "school choice" has been highly controversial in recent years. Despite the term, though, the issue is not choice. Parents have always had the choice of sending their children either to the public school or to a private school. The issue, as usual, is money. In Maine, government spends more than $12,000 to support each public school student. . . .

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Security
Every age cultivates its peculiar variety of delusion. Ours is certainly no exception, despite our belief, common to all previous ages, that we have now, finally, become entirely rational. Perhaps the main force behind our delusions is our fear of death. Until recently, death regularly visited young people, not just the old. . . .

Thursday, January 24, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Guns
The tragic mass murder of schoolchildren in Connecticut last month has created an opportune moment for proponents of stricter gun control. Current proposals include a ban on semi-automatic rifles and large-capacity magazines, and also more thorough background checks to keep firearms from felons and the insane. . . .
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Joe Steinberger: Growing Up in a Time of Decline
I claim no special talent for predicting the future, but I have to try. The ability to make an intelligent prediction of what the future will bring, and to plan for that future, is what has made us humans such successful animals. With my life mostly behind me, predicting my own future is mostly actuarial. My plan is to fade away comfortably with what wit I can still muster and with the modest . . .
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Joe Steinberger: One Big TV Show, and Beyond
The message is clear. In the light of the tragedy, it is more important than ever that all Americans speak with one voice, and think with one mind. We have not yet reached that goal, but we are getting ever closer. For this we can thank the "light" itself, the light flickering uniformly on our television screens, the mesmerizing light which brings at the same time the same . . .
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Conforming the Child
My last direct experience with public school was 50 years ago when I graduated from Hastings High School near New York City. Now my son Takuma has started kindergarten at the Gilford Butler School in South Thomaston. What had become a distant memory is now getting a new and urgent perspective; through his eyes, and through the eyes of a father who cares about his child's education.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Christmas Fish and Vegetables
The Free Press recently published a moving plea for all of us to shop locally this Christmas. It is a cause suitable to a newspaper that gets its revenue from local business advertisers, and it is a worthy cause for all of us who live and earn our living here. This cause, however, is bucking a powerful tide.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Joe Steinberger: David Petraeus, Alexis Wright, and the Armed Bureaucrats
In his farewell speech in Congress, my hero Ron Paul warned about the standing armies of "armed bureaucrats" in the federal government - the TSA, CIA, FBI, ATF, etc. I remember the term "armed bureaucrats" being used to describe Josef Stalin and his band of revolutionaries turned enforcers. The term was apt both then and now. It is interesting that it is a Republican congressman . . .
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Joe Steinberger: The Morning After
After months in which American politics has been a spectator sport, the final score is in. Half of us are happy with the result, half are unhappy. All of us have been able to go to bed with the knowledge that very little has changed, and all of us have had to wake up with the realization that this election has been a diversion: that little has been done to settle our differences or solve . . .
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Joe Steinberger: A Storm to the Rescue
Just when it seemed that the election was going to bore us to death before we could get it over with, deus ex machina in the form of Hurricane Sandy intervened. Politics, God be praised, was put on also-ran status while the media sold us the Pepsi, etc., by means of the huge, unprecedented superstorm.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Problems of Democracy
We have elections coming up. Our president is up for re-election, and here in Rockland our mayor is also up for re-election. These two contests, one involving leadership in our great nation of 300 million and the other involving leadership in our little city of a few thousand, may seem beyond comparing, but they have much in common.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Doctor Romney
Some things are easier to sell than others. Selling narcotics to addicts, for example, is easier than convincing addicts to kick the habit. It would be unfair, therefore, to rate drug dealers as better salesmen than those who put their effort into helping people overcome their addiction.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Our Child Kills Himself
The sad story of Brian Floyd, the 21-year-old prisoner who escaped from minimum security at the Bolduc Unit in Cushing and then entered an unoccupied house and killed himself with a gun he found there, has been widely reported in the local media. At least his escape was covered; the sad ending seems to have been reported only by The Free Press.

Thursday, September 27, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Wind
It might seem unlikely to a non-sailor that you could climb into a small boat in Rockland Harbor one morning, as I did on Monday, and let the wind blow you clear around Vinalhaven Island and back again that same day. The craft of getting from here to there and back solely by the power of the wind is largely lost today, even by the many would-be sailors whose masts are generally . . .

Thursday, September 20, 2012
Joe Steinberger: A Positive Attitude
I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm getting pretty fed up with Mr. Steinberger's optimism. This is the opening line of a letter from Mike in last week's Free Press - slightly misquoted, of course. He accused me of pessimism, not optimism, and he was right, I have been pessimistic of late, and very critical of our local government.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Takuma Goes to School
My son Takuma, who turned 5 this summer, starts kindergarten this week. He has been looking forward to it - to going to school like the older boys in our Rockland neighborhood, to getting on the bus with them and heading out on his own to this new adventure. I have been looking forward to it, too, sharing in his spirit of adventure, but not quite so fearlessly as he.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Fighting with City Hall
Dear Reader, I delivered this statement to the Rockland City Council at its meeting on Monday night, Aug. 13, so this week I'm killing two birds with one stone. Please forgive me for making you my second bird. - Joe Steinberger

Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Low-Power Elite
The defining feature of our age has been abundant and cheap energy in the form of fossil fuel. That we are on the declining side of the supply curve has been the cause of much anxiety and hand wringing, as has been the environmental damage caused by our profligate use of this resource, but no amount of worry and warning is going to stop our rush to dig it up and burn it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Middle-Class Self-Help
Seems that everyone today wants to be called middle class. No one wants to be called lower class, or upper class. We don't like the idea of class, and we pretend that we don't have it. Having everyone be middle class is our way of maintaining our dream of being a nation of equals.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Joe Steinberger: The Old School - Demolition Looms
It was back in May that I wrote about the hopes of a group of us who, under the banner of The Old School, have dreamed of using the abandoned MacDougal School on Broadway to house an arts and sciences center to fill the void caused by the closure of the Lincoln Street Center at the old Rockland high school.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Rockland, Service Center
An interesting article by Steve Betts in a recent Bangor Daily News compares the percentage of tax-exempt property in Maine's county seats. Rockland has one of the highest percentages in Maine, at 24%. The issue of property tax exemption for non-profits such as schools, museums, hospitals, churches, government buildings, etc. is often debated in Rockland.

Thursday, July 5, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Beyond Kafka
Franz Kafka wrote a hundred years ago about the absurd distortions of reality imposed on a disheartened citizenry by the bloated, self-serving bureaucracy of the dying Austro-Hungarian Empire. Kafka was not appreciated in his time, and not published before his death in 1924, or indeed before the death of Austro-Hungary itself.

Thursday, June 28, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Democrats and Republicans, Conclusion
I wrote in my last column about my experiences as a Democrat for Dennis Kucinich in 2008 and as a Republicanfor Ron Paul in 2012. Party loyalty aside, most of us have beliefs that span the two parties, and we often disagree with both. There are party enforcers, though, who reject our unorthodoxy with the fervor of a white blood cell attacking a pathogen.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Democrats and Republicans, Part I
The more that Democrats and Republicans rave at each other and bite and kick, the less there is to choose between them. This may seem like a paradox, but it is a common phenomenon. Just because your neighbors are angrily fighting with each other over their boundary does not mean that you have any more in common with one than the other.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Joe Steinberger: The Old School, Continued
This is our fourth week chronicling what began as disappointment over the abandonment of the Lincoln Street Center for Arts and Education, turned to a crusade to save the old high school under the banner of "The Old School," to a reality check as the full dimension of the building's liabilities set in, to a glimmer of hope that the Old School mission might continue in a different old school: the recently abandoned MacDougal School on Broadway in Rockland.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Old School Reality Check
These past two weeks I have chronicled in this column the frantic quest to save the old high school building that has housed the Lincoln Street Center for Arts and Education. This quest, about which I was so hopeful a week ago, came to an abrupt halt this weekend with a tour of the building with civil and construction engineers who had volunteered their services.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Joe Steinberger: The Old School
Last week I wrote about the announcement that Lincoln Street Center for Arts and Education (LSC) will close as of June 30 and the building will be sold to pay the organization's debts. This week I am pleased to announce that the way seems clear to save the building from this fate, to preserve it as a community resource for the arts and for education, and to permit the current occupants - the many artists and artisans, and the blossoming Watershed School - to remain and to thrive.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Saving Lincoln Street Center
Rockland was shocked last week with an announcement from the Lincoln Street Center for Arts and Education that it will close its doors on June 30. "The Board regrets that the Center, in its present form, cannot continue to play a role in the expanding art awareness of the greater Rockland community."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Children Love Broccoli
A few days ago I took my 4-year-old son Takuma on a trip to the supermarket. What should we buy for dinner? I asked him. Broccoli, he said, after taking a moment to consider. When we got to the vegetable section we had a choice of two kinds of broccoli, and he chose the dark green leafy raab broccoli. It has a delightfully pungent bitter flavor, which we both love.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Value Added
If you go to our local Rockland fish market you will find that one of the most popular and regularly stocked fish is salmon. It is prominently marked as coming from Scotland, and this is a selling point. Although salmon aquaculture has a long history here, with production on a large scale, you won't find any Maine salmon here at the fish market - it has a reputation for being of poor quality. Discerning shoppers prefer to have their salmon flown in from Scotland.

Thursday, April 12, 2012
Joe Steinberger: The China Trade
The Commerce Department last week announced a new tariff on solar panels from China. The "Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy" - the Orwellian name of a cartel of U.S. solar-panel manufacturers - called the tariff "a huge victory."

Thursday, March 29, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Peace
Late one night 50 years ago two young Columbia students wandered down to Times Square. On the perimeter of the little island in the middle of the square - on one end of which there was a small Army recruiting booth - a group of people were standing silently holding signs that said, simply, "peace."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Invasive Species
The invasion of the Asian Carp is back in the news as terrified Midwestern states have once again implored the Supreme Court to order the Corps of Engineers to save them from being overrun by these frightening creatures.

Thursday, March 1, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Shoot Games
"I want to play shoot games, Joe." My son Takuma at four and a half is now quite proficient with my computer. I worry that he is going to buy something very expensive, with one click, on Amazon. His interest for the moment, though, is games.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Joe Steinberger: An Interview with John Steinberger
My brother John Steinberger, 34, is assistant professor at the Institute for Theoretical Computer Science at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Not Left or Right, but Up or Down
Of all the things that are dividing and defeating the American people today, the most fundamental and destructive is the obsolete ideological paradigm of left versus right.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Occupy the World, Part II
When Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, the world rejoiced. Most Americans don't understand it, but the great majority of people elsewhere had come to believe that the world's greatest threat to peace was not terrorists, but U.S. militarism.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Occupy the World
Americans have come to believe without question that our safety, indeed our very survival, depends on our global military supremacy. We believe that we must continuously project our military power around the world and preemptively attack and destroy any regime . . .
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Joe Steinberger: Out of Iowa
The Republicans are an invented people. Despite their oft-made claims to be messengers of God's will and defenders of the Constitution, they are nowhere mentioned either in the Bible or in the Constitution.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Joe Steinberger: The Politics of Income Inequality
America's growing income inequality has become a concern for many Americans, but for as many others it is a matter of no concern at all, or is seen as a good thing. What is wrong with getting rich, after all? If some people are getting richer rich, more power to them.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Joe Steinberger: The World in Heat
When Joshua Slocum sailed around the world in 1895-1898 he met President Kruger of South Africa, who believed, against all the evidence, that the earth was flat. Today this belief seems rather quaint, but this quaint brand of Christian fundamentalism was politically expedient in South Africa at that moment.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Joe Steinberger: Beyond the Zoom
According to a survey recently reported by the BBC, 46% of American 18- to 24-year-olds now say they would choose Internet access over owning their own car. Only 15% of people who grew up in the 1950s and 60s would make that choice.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Joe Steinberger: Ron Paul vs Politics as Usual
Texan Congressman Ron Paul, a 76-year-old former obstetrician who is neither handsome nor glib and who espouses radical libertarian views that are completely at odds with the Republican mainstream, is, according to the polls . . .

Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Joe Steinberger: Rockland History, in Context
"The investment that our forefathers made here continues to sustain us today, even as the economic conditions that gave rise to their wealth have passed."
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Joe Steinberger: Revolution
This week we turn a new leaf. We the Six Billion is now a thing of the past, and henceforth its author will be under the sole protection of his own name, and the good offices of The Free Press, as he sallies forth valiantly (or foolishly) . . .
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
We the Six Billion
I am not sure what to call this column now. We the Seven Billion is the obvious choice now that the estimated human population of the earth has reached that number, but ticking off the billions (no pun intended) is not my goal.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
We the Six Billion: Occupy Rockland, Please
It is hard to guess where the Occupy Wall Street movement is going, but it is nice at least for a moment to have people standing up in vocal rejection of the insidious, and currently pervasive, idea that working Americans should be grateful to the wealthy elite for their jobs.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
We the Six Billion: Reflections on the Cost of Medical Care
". . . I permit myself one comment on your complaint that rising health costs can be attributed to ever increasing demands of doctors, health care workers, and hospitals. . .

Thursday, October 6, 2011
We the Six Billion: The Gates of Hell
Warning: My commentary this week contains explicit rejectionist rhetoric that may shock some sensibilities, so some readers may want to move on to more taste-appropriate material right now.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
We the Six Billion: Democracy and Plutocracy
The Chinese, who have become our principal rivals for what they used to call "global hegemony," are fond of saying that the United States is an example not of democracy, but of plutocracy.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
We the Six Billion: What You Can Do About the Economy
With the economy in trouble these days, the advice ordinary Americans get from the power elite is that we should consume more. Don't worry, they say, have confidence, borrow if necessary, and spend.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
We the Six Billion: Are We Over It?
This week we commemorate the tenth anniversary of the most spectacular terrorist attack that the world has ever known. The number of people killed and the value of property destroyed were both high, but the "production value," . . .
Thursday, September 8, 2011
We the Six Billion: 5 Problems, 1 Worry, and a Hope
There are two ways of thinking about change. One is to see it as cyclical. The same old things just keep going around and around. The other is to see change as progress, for better or worse, over the stretch of time.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
We the Six Billion: Digging Rockland
Rockland is a great place for digging. Unlike most of Maine where the soil is full of stones, our soil is silt, clay and sand that was deposited on the sea floor by retreating glaciers when what is now Rockland was a shallow bay.

Thursday, August 18, 2011
We the Six Billion: Debt
Whether or not it is a good idea to borrow money has been one of mankind's more considered issues over the millennia. Mostly, the practice has been condemned by popular authority.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011
We the Six Billion: The End Is Near
We are not coming to the end of the world, but we are clearly coming to the end of a way of life, and to a forced transition to another.

Thursday, August 4, 2011
We the Six Billion: A Small-Town Social Critic
I consider myself very fortunate that for a decade now The Free Press has published my column each week. It is rare for a small-town paper to publish the sort of social criticism that this column often represents, and even rarer when that . . .

Thursday, July 21, 2011
We the Six Billion: Equipment Porn
My friend Brian works at home and has to communicate with his employer every evening. We have been wanting to spend some long weekends cruising on my sailboat with our children, so we have been looking for some equipment for my . . .

Thursday, July 14, 2011
We the Six Billion: Evening Train to Wiscasset- for Dinner
My son Takuma has a 3-year-old's love of trains. He likes buses too, and ferryboats, but trains are definitely the best. Every time he hears the train whistle blow - and we can hear it at our end of town more than a mile from the track - he gets excited.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011
We the Six Billion: 235 Years, and Now What?
We are celebrating 235 years of American independence this July 4. Over these years the 13 obscure colonies that overthrew the power of King George in the name of liberty have become, as the 50 United States, the greatest economic and . . .
Thursday, June 30, 2011
We the Six Billion: Freedom Rings, We Hang Up
It is 180 years since Alexis de Tocqueville came to America and wrote about our great experiment in liberal democracy. It is 180 years, too, since Samuel Smith wrote "My country, 'tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty . . ."
Thursday, June 23, 2011

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