In this wonderful holiday season, I saw a cartoon of crowds rushing by a bell ringing Santa to get to the sales inside a store. It made me think of how rarely we think in a meaningful way about people in our society who are poor and desperately need the services and programs provided by our state and federal governments.
Far too many people choose to demonize the poor, believing they somehow “deserve” their fate. This seems to have been the perspective of the Massachusetts State Senate when they acted on a bill for welfare reform in June, passing a bill with onerous provisions that undermine critical supports that genuinely help people become self-sustaining.
According to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (http://massbudget.org
), “Even now, four years after the end of the recession, the poverty rate has not begun to decline. Since 2007, the statewide poverty rate has increased from 9.9 percent to 11.9 percent. Over 1 in every 7 children across the state is currently living in poverty.”
When the Massachusetts State House of Representatives takes up this bill in the new year, I hope my state Rep. Nicholas Boldyga and the House of Representatives will retain the spirit of the holidays, focus on the needs of their constituents, and come up with a bill for real welfare reform that includes education, training, and help with child care and transportation, and that my state Sen. Donald Humason and the State Senate will revise their thinking.
Corinne M. Wingard