Maine people are remarkably generous. We are willing to raise money for a family with a sick child, contribute toward putting a steeple on an old church or build a playground in a local park.
But we are not fools, and we have no patience with people who lie to receive government benefits.
So we commend Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald for his crackdown on welfare fraud.
Tuesday Macdonald revealed that 84 people have been kicked off the city's General Assistance ledger, 50 of them for fraud.
Police Chief Michael Bussiere said his department is pursuing charges against 12 of those people. Macdonald promised that more charges will be filed in coming months.
About 225 people receive general assistance in Lewiston, a program designed to get people through a crisis by paying for basic necessities like housing, utilities, medicine and food.
Of the 50 people accused of fraud, Sue Charron, the city's social services director, said most had lied about applying for work as required under the program.
The biggest problem with benefit programs in this country is not that they are too generous, but that taxpayers have lost faith in government's ability to ensure they go only to the truly needy.
As government has grown over the years and programs proliferated, more taxpayers have begun to suspect the programs are out of control and often benefit the wrong people.
We are all sympathetic to people who are down on their luck, have health problems or are genuinely incapable of working.
But Mayor Macdonald is doing what government should do at all levels —demonstrating that the rules are meant to be followed.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.