By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
I don’t know about you, but I am getting sick of listening to pandering politicians, utterly devoid of ideas and solutions, blaming the rich and George W. Bush for all the ills in the world. Their continued mantra—“The rich don’t pay their fair share”—has gone from annoying to nauseating.
They publically define the rich as those who greedily make money by paying their employees slave wages, providing few benefits and outsourcing jobs overseas, thus employing foreign labor and eliminating another American job.
In reality, if you’re employed in a full-time job and pay taxes, you’re included in the “You don’t pay your fair share” category.
One of my strengths as mayor is that I am fortunate enough to be retired. The limited responsibilities of the Mayor’s Office—ribbon cutting, running a City Council meeting and casting the deciding vote should the council be deadlocked—allows me the freedom to roam the city and speak with the young, middle-aged and senior citizens; the working, the non-working and the retired; established Lewiston residents, new American citizens and refugees; as well as those interested only in what support they can extract from our city coffers. I also speak with business people and our city employees.
This daily interaction allows me to understand the real life and timely problems of those living in our comunity. Unlike professional politicians, I listen to everyone with an open mind, regardless of their political leanings or whether they support me. This, hopefully, has allowed me a greater understanding when formulating a course of action to address various problems.
One of the grandest schemes perpetrated on the taxpaying public is giving the “poor” a pass on paying their fair share of taxes.
This leads me to a question that will give our local politicians a sickening feeling, social-servcie advocates apoplexy and something for the taxpayers to mull over in their minds. The question is: Should the poor be made to pay their fair share?
To answer this, let us define the “poor” people who would fall into this category. Those who have no employable skills, resulting from dropping out of a free public school system, should be required to pay their fair share. Those who choose a life of drug abuse and alcoholism should pay their fair share. Those that sit idle or wander our streets, generating police calls and leaving trash in their wake, should pay their fair share.
Generational welfare recipients who look on public assistance as “their job” should pay their fair share.
On April 15 these groups experience the same euphoria that those on Wall Street experience when bonuses are given out. Taxpayers pay, they play.
This phenomenon is the result of the Weeping Willies and Sobbing Sisters in the Legislature creating a myriad of deductions that assures these “poor” people will get generous tax refunds ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
This money is used to buy tattoos, body piercings, alcohol and flat-screen TVs. Lewiston Senator Margaret Craven noted that these refunds stimulate the economy.
It’s time for our politicians to be held accountable for their support and/or failure to correct these abuses. They play, you pay.
Finally, we must ensure that a safety net is in place for those who really need it. We must do everything we can to help the severely retarded, the mentally ill, the truly disabled and those honest working people who need a temporary boost to get over the hump. This is required in a civilized society.
Yet when the budget rolls around, cuts in services to our neediest citizens are always proposed, while programs for layabouts remain untouched. This begs the question: Are these proposed cuts legitimate, or are they used to create a crisis, distracting the public’s attention from other highly charged issues?
Now for this week’s welfare numbers. To refresh your memory, these numbers represent those coming off five years of TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families). Legislators in Augusta failed to say “Enough is Enough” and allowed them to continue living off the Lewiston property taxpayer.
Apparently, our local legislators fear the threats of social-service advocates more than the voices of the taxpaying voters. To date, we have added 59 families totaling 284 people to our General Assistance rolls. The list continues to grow weekly.
Remember in November.