Letters to the Editor

April 06, 2010

Benchmark to qualify for assistance is too low

To the editor:

I am appalled at the ridiculously low figures we use on which to base our assistance to the poor and needy in Washington County.

Unless their annual income falls below $14,570 per annum, no family in this county qualifies for any state or federal assistance to put food on the table, pay rent, and cover utilities, medical costs, etc. As a new member of the Washington County Commission on Aging Advisory Board, I am both shocked and saddened to realize the plight of my fellow citizens who fall into this unfortunate grouping.

How has this commonly accepted threshold figure been allowed to stand for so many years? That is a question apparently no one in Washington cares to investigate. After all, what congressman or senator would want to admit that his or her district actually had hundreds or thousands more seniors living below the poverty levels. Again, Washington is not in touch with Main Street Americans 65 and older who are struggling every day to pay basic bills just to exist. Action is long overdue in revision of this outdated statistical benchmark.


Actually, the figure first was introduced way back in the 1960s by Social Security, when some economists took the cost of a bare-bones diet and multiplied it by three. Because the figure was based on 1955-1960 food consumption spending, food accounted for one-third of the average household budget. Health care costs, housing, utilities and other costs have dramatically outpaced food costs today. No geographic differential was even considered. In short, this ridiculous figure cannot represent the cost of a two-person household today and should not be allowed to determine basic needs of our seniors any longer.

I urge all seniors to e-mail, phone or write all of their congressional representatives to call for corrective action on this outdated and unfair statistical benchmark. We must take care of our good people who have worked so hard to make our country what it is today. To neglect this basic benchmark for so long is simply unconscionable.

Blanton Croft
Commission on Aging Advisory Board

Thanks to all who supported Teen IDEA Challenge

To the editor:

The Washington County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition would like to express our gratitude to some of the businesses and community organizations that generously supported our second annual Teen IDEA (Individual Decision Empowerment & Awareness) Challenge on March 21.

They included Hagerstown Community College, Washington County Gaming Commission, Washington County Community Partnership, Washington County Health Department, Washington County Public Schools and Student Government Association, Washington County Hospital, Washington County Free Library, Washington County Department of Social Services, Community Action Council, Tobacco Coalition, Community Anti-Drug Coalition/Underage Drinking Town Hall, Youth MOVE, Washington County Parks & Recreation, Washington County Sheriff's Department, Pepsi Bottling Group, Best Buy, Home Depot, Phantom Shadow Entertainment, Rocky's Pizza on North Potomac Street, Community Free Clinic and Tri-State Health Center.

We also owe a debt of gratitude to the 105 teen and adult volunteers who made the event possible. Among those volunteers were our wonderful board of directors, who went above and beyond the call of duty in preparing for and serving at the event.

The Teen IDEA Challenge provided local teens and parents with a fun, free afternoon of activities designed to promote healthy choices by showing the consequences of unhealthy choices in an interactive, experiential format.

Shalom Black Lane
executive director
Washington County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition

State GOP's plan would balance budget

To the editor:

If you think the historic tax increases in 2007 were the end of tax hikes in Maryland, think again.

Even with a $2 billion deficit, Gov. Martin O'Malley has proposed a budget that is $1 billion over what Maryland can afford. Filling budget gaps with federal stimulus money might make the bottom line look good for now, but what will happen when the stimulus money is gone and there are no more funds to shift? It almost surely means more tax increases on the horizon - after the next election, of course.

On the other hand, there was a proposal put forth by the House Republican Caucus that would balance Maryland's budget without raising taxes. In fact, it would reduce spending to the point that Maryland could even roll back some of those increases from 2007. Easing the tax burden is the real way to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

Support the House Republicans who want to put the money back in the hands of its true owners - the taxpayers of Maryland.

C.M. Hill

AFSCME finally dealing with serious issues

To the editor:

My letter is in reference to the story in the Wednesday, March 24, edition of The Herald Mail titled "Testimony heard in support of prison bill" and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) stance on the Senate bill.

It is refreshing to finally see AFSCME deal with some serious workplace issues rather then dabbling in my and other employees' personal lives. Maybe, once and for all, AFSCME can stay focused on these same workplace issues and stay out of my and other employees' personal business.

As is always the case, time will tell.

Kelly McCauley

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