Letter: A White Elephant in Mascoma
To the Editor:
In his March 5 op-ed, David Wilson wrote that Mascoma students “deserve the very best,” but his accompanying plea for a performing arts center overlooks that our taxpaying citizens also deserve the same consideration. In light of the consequences of federal and state decisions and also what has happened to people’s personal savings, giving students “the very best” would, unfortunately, cause long-term pain for too many in our small towns.
News stories in recent months have revealed that serious financial issues in this country are not merely on the horizon — we are already there. Incurring between $21.8 million and $23.8 million in debt to add the proposed white elephant while enrollment is shrinking at Mascoma High School would be a crime committed against our struggling neighbors.
On Feb. 13 it was reported that 49 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck or falling behind on bills. This figure applied to all income levels. To think that our neighbors are immune to this is turning a blind eye to the truth.
Another recent disturbing headline was, “More Workers Raid Retirement Accounts to Pay Bills.” This is all coming at a time when our polarized federal government is attempting to curb spending for social programs while trying to balance the national budget. On the line are Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile, there are proposals for citizens to build and rely more on their own retirement savings accounts. Too many lack the means to save to the degree necessary for retirement, and many of those who do are already raiding the cookie jar to pay current bills.
Federal and state cuts to social programs will leave many of our neighbors wanting and cause increased crime and other social problems. Wouldn’t the funds that would be used to pay for this white elephant be better conserved and channeled to help those who will be added to the roles of the needy in our small towns?