To the Editor:
We here on Mount Desert Island just held a food drive, with the assistance of the post office employees, who dropped off empty bags and picked up full ones. Thank you.
Let’s hope that House leader Paul Ryan and 2nd District Rep. Bruce Poliquin don’t hear about it. While they prefer food banks to food stamps, they might still consider the Postal Service’s participation as a wasteful expenditure that denies citizens the right to do for themselves while keeping them dependent on big government. They might even call it unconstitutional.
Perhaps I shouldn’t make light of the politics of hunger. Since I’ve lived here, I have watched Maine Republicans, lead by Gov. Paul LePage and Mary Mayhew, decimate our state’s social safety net. As a result, Maine’s food insecurity has increased, and our food banks are overwhelmed. Our neighbors are going hungry, and we are doing all we can to help. Some believe this is exactly how things should be.
I am always impressed by our community outreach to help neighbors who have been overtaken by disaster. Yes, it is a good thing, just as bake sales for our schools and hospital and car washes for our fire department are good things. But these private efforts should be in addition to, not instead of, adequate and predictable government funding for essential services.
Those in need should not have to rely on the vagaries and fluctuations of charity to get back on their feet. None of us should have to take full financial responsibility for essential services. (Hey kids, let’s have a bake sale to pay for roads, bridges and clean water!) In their wisdom, our ancestors developed an excellent form of community mutual assistance. We pool our resources and distribute them equitably and efficiently to mutual benefit. It is called good government.
Ideology gets in the way of good government and even of common sense. This is one reason the founders were concerned about the rise of party politics. It is the reason that today old-time fiscal conservatives, who understand government’s role in providing for the health and well-being of the nation’s people, are being steamrolled by right-wing extremists who believe government has no role in providing for public welfare.
Politicians like Ryan and Poliquin rant and, more importantly, vote against social services and are looking now to cut Medicare and Social Security. But not a peep out of them, and certainly no action, about our tax dollars spent on golf carts at Trump resorts and rent at Trump Tower, for EPA head Scott Pruit’s first-class travel and Fort Knox phone booth, for Housing head Ben Carson’s dining room set … the list goes on, and the bills add up. These guys have given a whole new meaning to “luxury tax,” we pay taxes for their luxuries.
Yes, compared to questionable military appropriations, tax breaks for the super wealthy and incentives for super profitable businesses, the tax dollars spent on the extravagant lifestyles of the rich and famous currently running our government is chump change, but not to me and probably not to you. When we reach into our pockets, and when we vote, please, let’s think about how those millions of tax dollars can be better spent.