hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

February 1, 2012

Letters to the editor

By Tim McCarthy

To the editor:

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the local Merrimack Valley Tea Party's monthly meeting. What struck me was not the quantity or the variety of people that were in attendance, but who spoke. Over the last couple of years, the Tea Party movement has been vilified, insulted, and, at times, blamed for violence. All of this abuse for simply standing up and asking that their voices be heard. After all, this still is America and freedom of speech is still our right, for now anyway. Some would rather they shut up and go away.

I noticed that Senator Steve Baddour had walked in, as well as Senator Bruce Tarr. Now some would have thought that a steel cage match was imminent. Here you have a Republican and a Democrat sitting next to each other and at a Tea Party meeting, no doubt. But no such match materialized. Instead what happened was a lesson in what good government is all about.

You see, recently both senators have filed versions of bills to deal with revelations of rampant abuse within our social services system designed to help families who need it. It was revealed in a recent investigation that in Lynn people were abusing the EBT card system. I was stunned to hear that this was going on. Really? Abuse? Are you kidding me? Your tax dollars that are supposed to help people survive, by providing the basic necessities for struggling families, is being used for butts, booze and drugs?

Senators Baddour and Tarr stood at the podium together and addressed the crowd. They explained their frustration of trying to get things changed, but said they could not and would not give up. They want to change what is currently becoming the norm. Sweeping changes against a tide of complacency seem, at times, impossible.

One of their proposed ideas is putting a photo on the card of the person who is authorized to use it. Great idea. Another is about stopping the practice of the EBT cards being used like an ATM card. Awesome idea. What about limiting the cards' use to those basic necessities needed for families to survive? Duh!

Then the most controversial I am sure would be to have drug testing for those who get these benefits. Why not? Why should taxpayer money be spent on some people who have no intention of using it for their families and could care less about bettering their own situation in life? It makes sense right? Well it won't be an easy fight. They need our help. Yes, that means you and me have to get off the couch for a few minutes. We need to make some calls, talk to your friends, and write some letters only, of course, if you agree with these ides. If not, never mind.

Jack Roy