Aid Choices Shock the Conscience

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How the heck can anyone justify the Town of Old Lyme – or dozens of other towns in Connecticut with no shortage of money – handing out millions of federal stimulus dollars to local businesses, projects and nonprofits, while in Washington, D.C. the Federal Reserve is pumping the breaks on the economy, raising interests and pushing the economy into recession in an effort to put a lid on inflation?

Or more to the point, if there is a justification, surely it isn’t the $2-million-plus list of projects put together by the American Rescue Committee of Old Lyme. And after agreeing to spend over $100 million to purchase Great Island, I’m not sure even the best of projects could convince me that Darien needs another $6.4 million of ARPA funding.

Of course, not all of the money will be misspent.

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But in the case of Old Lyme, a few of the aid recipients for years have struggled to justify their existence to local taxpayers and even supporters – but apparently are good enough for federal dollars — at a time when we are in the throes of a (your pick) housing crisis, evictions crisis, opioids crisis, affordability crisis, climate crisis – all no doubt better uses of the public’s money.

Meanwhile, even with insurance it’s hard for an average person to find adequate treatment for mental illness, and we pay so little through Medicaid for the poor and elderly, that the press is expected to go easy on the nursing home industry, after far too many health violations and deaths from COVID.

Even after three years of reporting on gross inequities, and human suffering – with the expectation that life for many will be worse, not better, during the likely recession — such vicarious spending of public dollars simply shocks the conscience.