Teach a man to fish
The following is a response to "Keep it simple stupid," written by Publisher Reade Brower, which appeared in the Jan. 10 edition of The Camden Herald.
It seems that we have a problem that centers on welfare and enablements. More than talking or writing about it I would like to find a solution for it. Although welfare is worldwide I believe the solutions should originate with fellow citizens originating in the same locations as those living on the gifts of money derived from taxpayers. Obviously some of these people cannot support themselves and others will not support themselves. Those that cannot support themselves require the physical and financial support of citizens that have an income above that of the average taxpayer.
Those citizens that will not support themselves should be assisted in a manner that will enable them to support themselves and their loved ones. There is an adage that says, "Give a man a fish and he can eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he can eat for a lifetime." Today it might be said to enable a man or woman to earn a living they must have a desire to achieve. Most of the early settlers that came to America had the desire to achieve and that desire was ingrained prior to the time they set sail from Europe. Certainly we are not asking anyone to go through the rigors that our forefathers went through.
Let's proceed with setting some goals to be achieved: A high school equivalency education, self confidence, desire for recognition and acceptance as a productive citizen, establish a healthy mind and body, a source of earned income, family, home, recreation, friends, etc.
There are procedures that might be used to induce folks to accomplish the above goals: after a citizen obtains welfare, he or she should be required to obtain a GED within a reasonable period of time, establish time limits on welfare similar to those of unemployment, fathers of children born to unwed mothers should be made financially responsible for the cost of raising the child to the age of 18, a woman giving birth may receive government assistance for one pregnancy only, any person receiving financial aid must agree to working a minimum of 20 hours of work weekly for a municipality or a designated entity.*
How might the program be instituted?
Each township in the state of Maine should be mandated to establish a committee to evaluate and refine the topics suggested. Each township may want to utilize communities within its borders to assure that all citizens have the opportunity for their input. Each township should have a meeting of committees so that eventually each township will have one report. Each county will then go through a similar procedure resulting in one county report. Eventually there would be a state committee that would use the 16 county reports to formulate legislation needed to enact fulfilling the report submitted to the state Legislature.
It would be fitting to involved the social students staff in our public primary and secondary schools as well as colleges and universities to assist in developing sound programs that involve their expertise. They might include this as class assignments as is appropriate.
*At sometimes in the past there were town and county farms that gave housing and work opportunities to the needy individuals in the communities. Today it might be a sound investment to establish "community gardens" using unemployed people to raise fruits and vegetables that they will consume. Several locations in Maine have food processing facilities that would preserve food for off-season consumption. There are also empty poultry and dairy barns that could be producing eggs, meat and milk, utilizing folks on welfare, unemployment and incarcerated for labor. Granted that the owners of such enterprises should be reimbursed and personnel to organize and oversee such ventures would also receive a salary. Child sitting and laundries might also be developed. These same folks could utilize the automotive department equipment in some of the vocational education facilities, which would give training and low cost transportation. Habitat for Humanity could act as a training and housing contributor.
It should be noted that politics should not be involved at any state of discussion or the development of this proposal. Also none of us are any better than those people we are trying to assist, but probably a lot more fortunate.
Such a program as suggested here would be so much better if there were some nonprofit organizations that were responsible for accomplishing the end results rather than state and federal governments.
Vance Wells is from Lincolnville.