Sunday, January 19, 2014

Insight - A hand up or a hand out? - by Michelle Libby



Augusta released data on the use of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) welfare cards this past week. The information requested by The Maine Wire, the online news site of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, found that “thousands of transactions where taxpayer-funded welfare benefits were used at bars, liquor stores, smoke shops and other inappropriate venues.”

How many of us have thought about the wasted money that is supposed to be used to help families get by, but instead are used for bad habits and frankly, wants, not needs? 

I am not against helping families and individuals who need a hand. It’s those people who abuse the system and know that they can “make more money” sitting at home on the couch with their hand extended, rather than go to work at a minimum wage job. 

What does this say to those people who work for minimum wage? What are we teaching our children and peers? Is it better to sit around and wait for a hand out? 

There are always exceptions and those people are the ones who need help and are not happy about having to ask for it. It’s the entitled, self-serving, system abusers who are perfectly healthy and refuse to work that get my goat. 

When will the system change so that people can help themselves out of their situation? Augusta should be concerned with creating systems that have people “working” doing volunteer work for their EBT card…work that they are qualified to do or could be trained to do. There are a lot of unfilled positions out there. Perhaps they don’t pay enough to buy that new convertible, but wouldn’t it make those people feel better about themselves if they were able to contribute to the community and not just feed off the government. 

"Maine has, pound-for-pound, the second-largest welfare system in the nation and that system has doubled in size over the past 20 years without any change to the poverty rate…,” said assistant house Republican leader Alex Willette of Mapleton. “The Democrats' insistence on maintaining the status quo is simply not an option.” 

I’m not sure if it is a party issue, but someone in Augusta needs to take a good hard look at what’s going on in our state and pass some legislation that makes sense and gives us a chance to make Maine the great state it can be. 

-          Michelle Libby

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