July 14, 2013

Another View: Business owner's comment betrays ignorance of poverty

Unemployment is high because there are not enough jobs, not because people are lazy.

By Luisa Deprez

Linda Bean's statement "We can't seem to attract people when they can stay home and collect welfare" once again reveals how ignorance hurts people ("Four firms eye Maine for lobster processing," July 10).

Luckily, many of us know that she knows not of what she speaks.

But I tire of reading such unsubstantiated, nasty claims and of the media's re-printing them -- this comment was news, how?

So, some clarification.

Nationwide, about 95 percent of people receive welfare benefits through Temporary Assistance to Needy Families because they are primary family caretakers, have a disability limiting or prohibiting them from working, are looking for work and cannot find it -- not so they do not have to work.  

In Maine, the monthly maximum a family of three can receive is $485; the weekly maximum for food assistance is about $130.  

Benefits for a family of three with no other cash income for all states were below 50 percent of the federal poverty line ($26,951 for family of three).

As most know, jobs are scarce, real unemployment rates are high.  

A quick look into Rockland-area job openings reveals only a few -- none at the Linda Bean Lobster Co.

She could advertise.

In any given sector of society, there are about 5 to 10 percent of people who do not live honestly within it. Bean's own industry, the business sector, has had plenty of incidents of dishonest dealings and ruthless behavior.

Were any of us to cast aspersions on the whole because of the acts of a few, none of us could ever trust anyone again.

As for Linda Bean's scathing, unsubstantiated claim about Maine citizens, it merely shows us that ignorance can be unkind and cruel.

Mainers deserve, and are, much better than that.

Luisa Deprez is a resident of Portland.


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