Re: “Letter to the editor: First, fund jobs for Maine’s needy, then discuss requiring work” (April 17):

The writer of this letter said that “public assistance over time is disempowering and often self-perpetuating.”

Public assistance over time is not in and of itself “disempowering” and “self-perpetuating” – low wages are. How do we expect to move people out of poverty if we don’t pay enough to move people out of poverty?

We won’t “restore dignity” to the unemployed unless they have enough income to make ends meet. And we cannot expect small businesses and small nonprofits to shoulder the burden of living wages unless we subsidize them.

A living wage requires a really big jump from the minimum wage. Either give employers a subsidy to dramatically increase wages, or provide government support directly to the worker to bump up their income.

Otherwise, the author makes some excellent points – particularly about the need to restore infrastructure and create jobs first, then figure out how to get people into them.

Jo Ann Myers