11. Mending the Safety Net

Cape Air has been recognized as one of the most philanthropic businesses in Southeastern Massachusetts, and Dan and his family have offered personal support to many community efforts over the years. But relying on private individuals and corporations to replace public support is a strategy that cannot be our answer. As the Rev. Canon Edward Rodman, one of Boston’s eminent religious leaders, said recently, “Charity is beautiful, but it’s capricious, selective, and out of our surplus, not our substance.”

During tough economic times, state leaders have made difficult budgetary choices with many troubling impacts. Health and human service organizations have been pitted against each other, forced to compete for a smaller slice of the funding pie. The same is true for housing; having worked for decades to support affordable housing on the Cape and Islands, where high prices and low average incomes make this one of the most challenging areas in the state, Dan knows that real solutions emerge from public commitment, not private largesse.

The core issue, from a budget perspective, is how we define our substance. Budget to budget, we can succeed in protecting some important initiatives, such as daycare facilities for people who might otherwise be institutionalized, or maintaining facilities at Taunton State Mental Hospital. But chronic underfunding of social services means that other worthy efforts must then face cuts or elimination. And the most vulnerable among us, without resources to work the halls of the State House, often bear the brunt of our shortfall.

And so we have to be willing to address the basic question of government: How do we raise revenue, from whom, and how much?