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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Whose Benefits Would Jesus Cut?

Maine lawmakers experienced their own kind of epiphany on January 6th in the House of Representatives. The manifestation of right-wing political extremists appeared before them disguised as a man of faith. With eyes closed and heads down, some lawmakers had flashbacks to the campaign trail when myths of “welfare cheats” spun like course wool.

“We have replaced the pride and dignity of hard work and honest pay for a welfare state where subservient dependency looks for a handout,” said Reverend Roger E. Tracey of the East Eddington Community Church during the morning “prayer.”

Maine tax dollars pay for a morning ritual in the legislature that in the past has been a nondenominational few minutes of reflection and peaceful solemnity.

“In the name of political correctness, we have become tolerant of everything except the faith of our fathers, Christian principles, and anyone who holds dear the traditional values that have sustained us from the very beginning” according to Tracey, who must have forgotten that thanks to his work we don’t tolerate gay couples getting married in Maine.

That tolerance of others is “political correctness” by the fathers in Augusta might explain why on day one of the new administration an executive order was issued urging state and local law enforcement officials to prevent undocumented immigrants from obtaining state and local welfare benefits.

Reality doesn’t reflect the rhetoric, though. According to a study to be released later this month by Maine Equal Justice Partners, the Maine Women’s Policy Center, and the University of New England, one in eleven Maine children and their families is at stake in this debate about “welfare” in our state.

Most people on welfare in Maine are single mothers caring for young children who graduated from high school, have recent work experience, and 67% of such families include at least one member with a disability. The real reason 25,000 Maine children receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) is because the instability of work in the low-wage labor market, illness and disability, and family-related problems including divorce, separation or domestic abuse. The maximum basic benefit for a family of three is $485 per month, the lowest in New England, and the median length of time that families receive TANF is 1.5 years.

Reverend Tracey concluded his morning tirade with these words. “But now a new day has dawned, and a new congress has convened, and a new hope and enthusiasm fills this great chamber.”

It sure is a new day, and I’m hopeful the good people of Maine and all those who were elected to serve them see that the devil isn’t in the details. The truth is.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not only does a prayer in the State House blur the lines of separation between church and state, but sadly this one also blurs the teachings of most religions...to help those less fortunate...

Anonymous said...

AMEN!

SoPoDad said...

Where is your pro-gun violence post? Did you take it down after realizing you're no different than Sarah Palin? Disgusting for an elected official in our state.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad to have learned about your blog through the PPH article - as a progressive I am desperate to understand more about how to keep Maine from becoming a place of state-sanctioned hatred. I'll keep reading - would love any and all call-outs for citizen action.

bruce said...

Actually the answer to your question is the wealthy and the bankers (moneychangers). The longer this goes on the closer we get to real class warfare.

Guns don't kill people bullets kill people. Ban bullets not guns.

Ms.Paula Page said...

Well stated, Thank you

Anonymous said...

The 125th session of the Maine House of Representatives was opened with a prayer by the Rev. Tracy (retired police officer) of the East Eddington Community Church. The same man who actively campaigned against LD 1020, the law to allow same sex marriage. In his prayer before the new House he pleaded, in the name of political correctness, for its members to work for all of the people of Maine and it appears that he would like them to consider putting Christian prayer back in our schools. Along with the Governor's executive order allowing government employees to question a person's immigration status , so far this year (9 days) it has not been "politics " as usual. Or has it?

Anonymous said...

At no point did Jesus say that government was to take care of those in need. It was supposed, in that day, that the people took care of their own.
Since reading about the framers of our Constitution it appears to me that they all looked to the Almighty and only wanted to separate having a government sponsored religion.
My humble opinion is that if got back to being a christian nation we would not be in the trouble we now find ourselves in.

Anonymous said...

You are able to accuse a Supreme Court Justice you don't even know of an obsession with pornography? Really? Oh. It was a joke? How is sort of boorishness consistent with your role as an elected official and role model?

Anonymous said...

At no point in our constitution does it say Jesus/Christ/or Christian...I believe the framers of our constitution believed in a higher power...God...a shared God to many faiths...an idea...an individual belief...nowhere is any one organized religion stated or implied...

Anonymous said...

So the father's not around and the mom graduated from High School (Whoopie!) and I'm supposed to pay for her fun and games? What about personal responsibility, like not getting pregnant? Is there anything easier to get today than an anti-pregnant agency?
The words "disability' can mean anything at all, from something temporary to real-time permanent problems, so waving numbers means nothing unless the wheat is separated from the chaff.

 
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