More politics and the ideology of change

By Reade Brower | Apr 17, 2014

“In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: they must be fit for it; they must not do too much of it; and they must have a sense of success in it.” — John Ruskin, author, art critic, social reformer (1819-1900)

If social reform could meet common sense perhaps we might make some fundamental progress in our fight to have all levels of society feeling good about themselves and a feeling that unless everyone can share in the success of a society, we are lost.

Juliette Laaka of these Courier Publications reported on a welfare bill amendment that was rejected by our legislators back in early April.

In this case I agree with Republican Kenneth Fredette from Newport when he states that the amendment is not really a compromise; instead it takes all the teeth out of the original bill by watering it down to a place where there is no real reform.

Juliette wrote: “The original bill, LD 1822, proposed by Gov. Paul LePage, prohibits electronic benefits transfer, or EBT cards, from being used for gambling, alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, and bail. The penalties called for the first offense to be a loss of services for one year, the second offense, loss of services for two years, and the third offense is a lifetime ban from receiving benefits from the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.”

From where I sit, this does not seem too harsh. In fact, I would say a two-strike offense is all you need. The third strike is on the taxpayers’ shoulders. First time offense is “shame on you” for breaking the rule, second time it is “shame on us” for allowing it to continue.

Paula Sutton makes a comment online at VillageSoup, “rather than giving cash, why not distribute or provide needed items in another manner? This might have a better result in keeping with the spirit of the program." I wholeheartedly agree with Paula.

Martha Seavey Boynton also commented, asking, “Please help me to understand why spending money on gambling, alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, and bail is acceptable?”

I’m with Martha; please help me understand why anyone can’t support welfare reform.

The simple pretext is that preventing people from being accountable is just one more way we disengage them from the workforce and from understanding there should be no “free lunch." If you need assistance, it should be there, but there is nothing wrong with attaching a few strings, as long as they are reasonable, understandable, and not over-the-top or demeaning in nature.

We drug test for many occupations, why not unemployment? We have reasonable rules of conduct in most work places, why not for those on welfare? We have accountability in most working environments, why not for those on assistance?

It was reported that Rep. Lizzie Dickerson, D-Rockland, said she would not support the amended bill because if services are taken away from individuals abusing the system, their children would ultimately be hurt.

Worrying about the children of people who abuse the system is noble and necessary, but not making those parents accountable does more harm than good because it teaches their children it is OK to cheat the system and OK to feel entitled to something for nothing.

If the parents who abuse the system are given a relatively free pass to cheat the system, how does that fix anything?

Creating a system of fairness, accountability and giveback takes away the entitlement and allows for people to feel good about who they are.

Isn’t that what’s important in the big picture?

Turn the page! Love to all.

Reade Brower can be reached at:

Comments (1)
Posted by: James York | Apr 19, 2014 22:39

While I have been pleased to read some of Mr. Browers accounts of recent political developments-  this article is rubbish! Are you serious?  As the BDN pointed out about the supposed rapid fraud , "For context, that’s just one-fifth of 1 percent of the state’s total transactions in the time period in question, Jan. 1, 2011, through Nov. 15, 2013."  So if my RDHS math is correct .002% of all EBT transaction were POtentially scandalous.  Give me a break. Stop beating up on the poor who are demonized regularly for finding themselves up against a political-economic model that continues to fail them with a media core who relishes in 'making common sense" out of their plight.  As I've stated before I'll be for drug testing EBT recipients as soon as CEOs and their political friends are up for the same scrutiny and while we are at it why not those who can deduct mortgage interest...etc, etc....   Common Sense would say A hand-out is a hand out!   isn't Reade?

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