Archived Story

Letter to the editor: A safety net?

Published 8:44pm Monday, January 7, 2013

To the Editor:
There are a lot of discussions going on about the widening gap between the rich and the poor of the United States. What is not happening are discussions about why the gap is widening. Nor are there discussions going on as to how we close the gap and improve everyone’s living standards at the same time.
We have discussions going on as how we can lower one group’s standard of living by increasing the amount they contribute to the tax base of the United States. What happens when their contribution to taxes has lowered their standard of living to the point that it can no longer be lowered?
We have a number of groups whose standard of living has not been increased in years. These groups remain at the lowest standard of living in the United States. Why? The groups whose standards of living remain at the lowest standards are those who have become dependent on the government for their subsistence; food, clothing, and their living quarters.
We now also have a number of groups that are becoming dependent on the unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits have been extended from 26 weeks to 99 weeks, further increasing the time they are dependent. Even the maximum unemployment benefit of $535 per week will only provide a yearly benefit of $27,820 or $52,962 for the full 99 weeks.
Those that are drawing the maximum unemployment benefits initially use their savings to maintain their standard of living. Within a short period of time their savings are exhausted and their standard of living begins to decline.
Few are drawing the maximum unemployment benefits. More are drawing closer to the lower end of the unemployment benefit range. These are the folks whose standards of living are immediately impacted. The longer they are on unemployment, the longer their standard of living declines or remains at the lowest level.
It appears the longer someone is on unemployment or on subsistence programs (food and housing), the more they become dependent on the government. It also appears the longer they are supported by government programs, the lower their standard of living becomes.
It is time we and our government took a real hard look at the programs we call safety-net programs. Instead of providing a safety net, these programs are in reality causing our citizens to become dependent. The continued use of these programs continues to lower the recipient’s standard of living until it reaches the lowest possible standard of living.
A lower standard of living for those who use the programs of The New Deal, The Great Society and the social-justice programs of the past few years may be the unintended consequences of such programs.
RAY SHAMLIN
Rocky Mount

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