(April 27, 2011):
“A NEW HOPE”
MAIDEN SPEECH BY GEOFFREY G. DIEHL
STATE REPRESENTATIVE, 7TH PLYMOUTH DISTRICT
187th MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL COURT
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, Honorable Representatives of the 187th General Court and Guests.
Thanks also to the people of my district who share with me the hope that we can find a solution to the financial hardships that face our Commonwealth. In 1977 when our nation was going through a similar energy and economic crisis, my recently divorced mother found herself out of work due to a labor strike and I experienced first-hand the sacrifices she made for the two of us to get by.
I am asking today for your support of a budget amendment that will help families who may find themselves in similar peril with one of the most important assets they need to keep their lives together – their home. My amendment asks not for dollars, but a study to support a bill, number 1183, which is an “Act Providing for Homeowner Consolidation and Relief.” This study will allow for groups like Mass. Bankers, Mass. Credit Union and Mass Housing to leverage their experience towards finalizing a bill that will help thousands of residents remain in their homes.
Experience is a valuable ally in all walks of life. As a freshman in this House, I can’t adequately express how in the short time I have been here I have come to treasure the helpful advice I have received from members on both sides of the aisle. An individual who does not value experience is like Sophocles’ ignorant man, who only appreciates something of value after it has slipped out of his hands.
In as much as we value experience, however, we cannot mistake experience with the routine, the established pattern of behavior based on prior analysis or comfortable habit.
The eyes of the public are upon this chamber as never before – watching what priorities we set, waiting for action, not business as usual. I was elected to provide a voice to the voiceless members of my community, barely making ends meet, still finding time to help their community, suffering in silence, too proud to take a hand out but in need of a helping hand. They have been ignored for too long. They shall not be ignored again. The increased discontent expressed in the home, at school, and even in state capitals across the country is, in part, based on the continuous strain of our distressed economy.
Sixty years ago, Massachusetts was in large part a self- sufficient state. It had, within its borders, significant heavy industry, agriculture and an integrated rail, highway and air system. Its public education system shone as a beacon and a model for other states to follow. Our banking and insurance industries were second to none in the world.
Today the same cannot, in large measure, be said about the Commonwealth, we have seen the loss of significant heavy industry and lack of attention to our transportation infrastructure. Our once progressive and uniformly excellent educational system is uneven and, all too often, a quality public education is an accident of birth.
We have the closest deep seaport to Europe and, rather than being the Seattle of the East, residential condos line the shores. In the summer there is a harbor tour called the “Sunset Cruise.” As the ship passes the empty shell of a once-thriving commercial hub, the guide informs visitors to this city that “not a single export leaves the port of Boston.“ The “Sunset Cruise” an apt name for our current circumstances.
But for our universities, hospitals, skilled tradesmen and small business owners, our State’s economy would be even bleaker. We continue to lose congressional seats in a predictable exodus of residents who leave for other states where job retention or growth is conducted more in earnest.
For those men and women who remain in the state, increases in the cost of living have left many with onerous consumer debt. And the products offered by our financial institutions, such as interest only loans, are part of the Gordian knot that strangles the consumer.
We may not have been in this chamber when the decline began, but surely we can act to change the direction, the very language of political discourse in this state, indeed this nation, by taking the economic challenges of this Commonwealth head on.
It is in the public good that non-delinquent residential home owners be afforded a loan product that will allow them to consolidate and refinance their current debt, allow them relief from higher monthly payments, avoid foreclosure, and help increase consumer savings.
I hope you will join in support with the bipartisan and bicameral sponsors of “Act Providing for Homeowner Consolidation and Relief” and approve of the budget amendment study, allowing a true vetting by industry experts.
This mortgage relief act is a bill whose passage this year will send the clear and strong message that this body is serious about tackling the issues that threaten our neighbors’ needs and livelihoods.
I understand that many people may see only continued dark clouds on the horizon. John Bunyan reminds us in “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” however;
“…Dark Clouds bring Waters, when the bright bring none.
Yea, dark or bright, if they their Silver drops
Cause to descend, the Earth, by yielding Crops,
Gives praise to both, and carpeth not at either,
But treasures up the Fruit they yield together…”
I believe in the character of this body and the hope it has stood for these many years. Let us resolve to be the session of a new hope.
A new hope that calls for the first priority to be a relief from the financial distress and the pain and suffering of our residents, caught in a credit crunch, by offering a solution that the private sector is unable to provide due to outdated lending regulation.
A new hope to those who see no hope in remaining in Massachusetts, by taking seriously the need for infrastructure changes in rail, highway and ports, in concert with the cultivating of industry and commerce, both traditional and technological.
A new hope for our public school system by planning for a twenty-first century delivery of education that ensures uniformity of buildings, curriculum, administration and teaching.
A new hope in our outlook, based on that firm foundation that is our eternal hope; that calls upon each of us at times to bear the other’s burdens, and to measure success and wealth not merely in dollars and cents, but how we lend a helping hand, working for the commonwealth of all.
I thank you.