State officials need to get more aggressive in their welfare reform efforts, with a set end goal in mind.

While I consider myself a fierce critic of the current destructive welfare system, I worry that simply cutting off all able-bodied individuals dependent on government assistance will not get the result we reformers desire. Instead, it might lead to more crime and opioid addiction among individuals who could have otherwise been “saved.”

I firmly believe there are two types of able-bodied welfare recipients: those who sincerely try to get off of the welfare rolls and just need a little boost; and those who put no effort whatsoever into bettering their circumstances and just want a free ride.

The latter are criminals who don’t deserve a single taxpayer dime.

Throwing money at individuals living in poverty and expecting them to find economic advancement is clearly not working. Government assistance should be for legal residents who need a hand-up and are willing to put in the effort, but we should not provide monetary assistance.

Job training, transportation, direct food supplementation are the kind of things I would like to see; that way we know exactly how the money is being spent and where.

Take away the financial incentive, where individuals get more money from assistance than by actually working, and we’ll see some results. We’ll also be able to identify those who deserve help. Welfare must be used as an investment, turning a recipient into a taxpayer.

No more free money.

Luke Jensen, Lewiston

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