Aid reform must be realisticThere's a lot of work going on...

the Forum

March 18, 1994

Aid reform must be realistic

There's a lot of work going on in Annapolis under the guise of welfare reform, much of it little more than political posturing that sounds good but does nothing to fix the current failed system.

Calls for a "family cap" and "time limitation" waste time and resources. They only tinker with a broken down system and play to false assumptions about families receiving aid for dependent children -- most of which have two children or less and remain in the system less than two years.

With an election approaching, legislators should focus on their own accountability for real welfare reform.

The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Baltimore has publicly supported welfare reform legislation crafted by Del. Maggie McIntosh and Sen. Nathan Irby, Baltimore Democrats. But that's only a first step toward creating permanent solutions.

As the battle over welfare reform unfolds in Annapolis, legislators must stop playing politics and start listening to their constituents, especially to the people caught in the current failed system -- most of whom want nothing more than a chance to work their way out of poverty.

Nobody wants to see the welfare system reformed more than AFDC recipients and other low-income people.

The Maryland Food Committee, with the support of the ministerial alliance and other organizations, has organized caucus groups of welfare recipients across the state to discuss welfare reform and get to the heart of the issue: a lack of meaningful employment opportunities and a system that devalues people and families, creates an environment of dependency, discourages work and ultimately robs our state of valuable human resources.

Ask any AFDC recipient and they'll tell you the surest "incentive" for getting people off welfare is a job that pays a living wage.

Creating jobs that pay a living wage must head any list of welfare reform measures.

With roughly 80,000 AFDC recipients living in a state that lost some 120,000 jobs during the recession and lags well behind its neighbors when it comes to creating new jobs, it is appalling that so-called welfare reform work fails to address job creation.

Unfortunately, a lot of the welfare reformers in Annapolis assume that "job training" is synonymous with a job that pays a living wage.

The alliance has joined the Maryland Food Committee and other advocates calling on lawmakers to stop, look and listen to new ideas about welfare reform, to make job creation an integral part of any welfare reform legislation and to protect the future of an entire generation of needy children.

We know it won't be easy. We've seen the pain, suffering, and waste fostered by the current welfare system. We're ready, willing and able to help bring about real welfare reform.

The McIntosh-Irby welfare reform legislation is a step in the right direction. But lawmakers must understand that if they don't do ++ welfare reform right -- if they don't stop tinkering with a hopelessly failed system and make "welfare reform" an investment in the future of Maryland -- we plan on holding them accountable.

A statewide voter registration drive launched by the Maryland Food Committee and centered around the issue of welfare reform is already under way.

It will increase the involvement of welfare recipients in the electoral process in key legislative districts and should send a message to would-be welfare reformers in Annapolis.

If lawmakers won't talk about welfare reform and job creation with low-income people and AFDC recipients now, they can count on hearing from them during the election season.

William C. Calhoun

Sidney Daniels

Douglas Miles

Marion Bascom

Vernon Dobson

The writers are all ministers and current or former presidents of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Baltimore and Vicinity.

City of kitsch

There seems to be a conspiracy in Baltimore to cheapen our image.

I kept quiet about the newspaper campaign to add "Hon" to our "Welcome to Baltimore" signs, and I have always overlooked the radio announcers who insist on pronouncing our city's name as "Bawl-mer."

But I really can't sit still for a football-field-size blue crab garden at the Inner Harbor. Has all good taste gone out the window?

Blue crabs are not indigenous to Maryland only, but also to

Virginia and Delaware.

There is, however, one event that is Baltimore's own -- the battle of North Point and the writing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Why can't we be known for this great historic event?

As it is, Baltimore is becoming a laughing stock -- a city full of kitsch.

Debby Hyson

Essex

Machine politics

That the Democratic political machines of Essex and Dundalk flourished over the years seems to furnish some residents with great memories.

How memories of delivering votes, political patronage and ticket-fixing can be a source of pride to some locals is not surprising, since some of these practices still exist and will continue as long as there are those who cherish this method of government.

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