Media Archive

Economics teacher Henderson targets business

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 164, No. 44, October 30, 2002

By Ben Bragdon
Staff Writer

First as a child growing up the son of a career Air Force man, then as an admissions officer at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, John Henderson has had many opportunities to travel the country and see the world.

While living in Germany and experiencing European culture as a kid, and later traveling North America and Europe, Henderson says he has gained a "world perspective" from seeing firsthand how communities with different backgrounds, spread all over the globe, deal with similar problems.

Now, as Henderson campaigns for the state representative position in District 112, the Foxcroft Academy social science teacher says that his experience leaves him open to the kinds of ideas that will smooth the transition of the region, and a Maine, into a new economy based on 21st century global realities.

Manufacturing jobs are continuing to move overseas, the Dover-Foxcroft Democrat says, and, while we need to support Maine businesses, large factory employment numbers are probably a thing of the past. Maine needs to find its niche in the world marketplace, utilizing skilled labor as well as the work-anywhere nature of technology.

"We need to look at what our strengths are; what we have that others do not necessary have," says Henderson, who is running against incumbent Republican Jim Annis, also of Dover-Foxcroft.

"We need to look at what our strengths are; what we have that others do not necessary have," says Henderson, who is running against incumbent Republican Jim Annis, also of Dover-Foxcroft.

Henderson applauds efforts by groups such as The Maine Highlands Guild that are cultivating and consolidating resources already native to the region for the purpose of marketing the Penquis region and giving its residents a chance to make a living off their skills.

He says the area needs to continue to sell itself to tourists and businesses, and further capitalize on the region's natural beauty by attracting what Henderson calls "lone eagle types"¸businessmen and women who can bring money and jobs to Maine.

While economic development looms large on Henderson's agenda, the current health care situation in Maine concerns him as well. Maine has too many small employers with little or no leverage negotiating with health insurance providers, he says. Henderson supports a single-payer system to unite the entire state against the insurance companies in order to level the playing field and move toward more affordable coverage.

While some would argue against giving the government such control, Henderson says in a single-payer system at least the voters would have the ability to vote out lawmakers they felt were not negotiating a fair deal.

"You can't do that with an insurance company. You can't do that with a drug company," he says.

Henderson says the state, and the country, should look abroad for solutions to the problems of rising health care costs and inequitable access to care. Canada is always looked at as an example of nationwide health coverage, but Canada's system ranks only 30th worldwide, Henderson says. We should look to the successful health care methods of European countries for ideas on how to shape our own system, he says.

As for education, Henderson feels, naturally, that more time should be spent in schools teaching economics, one of his subjects, so that students have a fuller understanding of the principles that guide the industries they will eventually work in.

"How can we expect our people to compete if they don't grow up comfortable and confident in economic principles?" he asks.

He says Mainers living in sparsely-populated areas like Piscataquis County must decide for themselves between regionalizing educational efforts or paying higher taxes to keep the services nearby.

"We seem to be hearing that they are not willing to pay for it as much as they were in the past," he says,"so I think regionalization makes sense."

He also said "logistical barriers" should be placed on state spending in times of economic expansion, so that programs funded in good times do not have to be gutted during downturns.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.