Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Open forum: New generation weaned on handouts

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With the usual fanfare and bravado, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, Council President Mike Knapp, Councilwomen Valerie Ervin and Superintendent of Schools Jerry Weast rolled out yet another county government handout, a free ‘‘open” lunch site for students.

Targeted at the Silver Spring cluster encompassing John F. Kennedy High School, Argyle Middle School and Georgian Forest, Strathmore and Bel Pre Elementary Schools, the program will provide a summer of free lunches and bus service to the 3,500 predominately black and Hispanic students who attend these institutions.

Touted as the ‘‘first” in the county, its surely will lead to a series of free lunches, transportation services, security details, additional school staffing, higher energy bills and related bureaucracy at other needy school clusters in the county. And there are many.

Superintendent Weast has already sanctioned the use of many of his elementary schools for the ‘‘Montgomery Cares” taxpayer-funded health clinics targeted at the growing Hispanic illegal alien population.

With our hospitals on the brink of financial ruin due to overuse by nonpaying residents, plans are underway to expand Montgomery Cares to multiple county high schools to combat the poor health of the illegal alien population and serious risk of spreading diseases to the general population.

Is there a better way?

Earlier this year, Leggett, Knapp and the rest of the County Council worked closely with Gov. Martin O’Malley and Annapolis to solve our state and county budget deficit problem. The result, the largest tax increases in Maryland history at a time when our national economy is shedding not creating jobs. Instead of developing an environment in Montgomery County where citizens can find employment, affordable housing, pay for their own medical care and feed their own families, our elected officials are going to ‘‘help us” every step of the way.

Our young people should not grow up expecting government handouts as a given. County government statements regarding ‘‘creating a services model for students that will improve school performance by breaking down institutional barriers, reducing educational and social disparities and addressing issues associated with the impact of poverty” is mere rhetoric typical of a self-perpetuating, tax dollar hungry bureaucracy. Hand a man a fish and he eats for one day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.

Brad Botwin, Derwood

The writer is director of Help Save Maryland.