Greg Kesich’s Aug. 6 column, “Making ‘welfare reform’ about fairness an easier sell to the middle class,” states that jobs are “the best social program.” So far, so good, but he faults Gov. LePage’s goal of requiring those on assistance to look for work as part of the bargain.

Considering the skills gap issue, along with the need for education to bridge that gap – not to mention the myriad of other challenges in matching those on assistance with a job that pays enough to sustain oneself or a family – I don’t find Mr. Kesich or other progressives commenting on the subject to offer any productive and implementable ideas that would help folks break out of their dilemma.

Here’s an idea: Since jobs are indeed the best social program, let’s use a good portion of the assistance dollars available (local, state and federal) to supplement the low wages paid for entry-level or lower-skilled jobs.

As the individual earns more via merit raises and the like, decrease the subsidy and offer educational assistance for those demonstrating an aptitude and willingness to better themselves. These concepts are out there and should be seriously considered and studied for their feasibility.

At the end of his commentary, Mr. Kesich drags out the same old arguments common to the progressive mindset: to wit, that the poor are getting poorer and that the answer somehow lies in income redistribution from productive people to the less well-off.

Such policies punish even the moderately successful among us, let alone risk-takers and the well-off. What we need are more productive people – and we might get there with a “hand up” to those willing to work hard for a better life!

John L. Ross