To the Editor:
An Athol man who recently wrote a letter-to-the-editor asked, “Is it better to have someone working and earning their own way, or is it better to have them dependent on the government for their income?” and cited some fantastical statistic with no source.
No one would disagree it’s better to have someone working and earning his or her own way. But no one with any real-world experience would deny that sometimes bad things happen to hard-working people, especially in a country that lavishes huge welfare subsidies on big corporations but begrudges miniscule ones ($4 per day for SNAP recipients) to people who work for a living but have no good-old-boy connections.
The letter that appeared immediately below the Athol man’s letter in the area daily illustrates this perfectly. A Glens Falls man noted General Electric’s betrayal of its hardworking employees in Fort Edward. The soon-to-be unemployed from GE are men and women who’ve spent their whole lives working hard and contributing to the system.
The man from Athol might begrudge these working people a small part of the unemployment or SNAP benefits they’ve spent years or decades paying into, but I don’t.
A quarter of all workers — and the majority of those working at fast-food restaurants — receive some sort of public assistance because of the scandalously low minimum wage. All are people who work.
Fifty years ago, a person could have a job for life, live comfortably on those wages and retire on a generous pension. Maybe that’s still true in utopia Athol. But in most of America, millions work hard and still can’t make ends meet. The American dream is being betrayed, and some have the audacity to blame those suffering most from that betrayal.
If the percentage of people receiving public assistance is indeed as high as the man from Athol claims, this is why.