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Debates should be well informed

| Thursday, September 23, 2004

Every day, I must look at the conservative opinions that appear in the Letters to the Editor and try not to upchuck my Oriental Stir Fry. So, against my better judgment, I will lend my opinions and join the small voice of liberals on this campus.

Although I had the hardest time stomaching Cullen Hardy’s letter, I will spend some time re-reading it so I can refute some of the misleading statements he has made. That being said, there are a few things I must absolutely say in response to his letter. First, I take issue with the following statement: “The truth is that the wealthy are the people who pay all of the taxes…” While it must be noted that the top tax bracket, which are all households with a yearly income of $311,951 or more, pay a high percentage of the money received by the federal government through income taxes, it is the share of the federal tax burden that alarms many, particularly most of those who identify themselves as Democrats.

A study done by the Tax Policy Center can make clearer what I wish to say. Assuming that the Bush tax cuts become permanent, the top one percent’s share of taxes would drop from 24.3 percent to 22.8 percent, the bottom 40 percent’s from 2.2 percent to two percent, but the rest, the middle class, would see their burden rise from 25.5 percent to 26.1 percent (“Middle Class Tax Share Set to Rise,” Milbank and Weisman). The argument with the tax cuts is not whether the wealthy are paying a larger share of the income taxes. That is what a progressive taxing system does. Many take issue with President Bush asking the middle class, those most affected by the economic downturn seen during his administration, to take on more of the tax burden while easing the wealthy’s, hence the so called “tax cuts for the rich.”

Second, Hardy claims “Rock the Vote would have you believe that a draft is just around the corner.” Rock the Vote never claimed that a draft was around the corner. They present a quote from Senator Chuck Hagel, R-NE, that was said in front of the Senate Foreign Relations committee: “There’s not an American … that doesn’t understand what we are engaged in today and what the prospects are for the future. Why shouldn’t we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?”

Further, they also quote Congressman Charles Rangel ,D-NY, as saying, “As a veteran, I strongly believe that fighting for our country must be fairly shared by all racial and economic groups. Nobody wants to go to war, but the burden of service cannot fall only on volunteers who, no matter how patriotic, are attracted to the military for financial reasons.” It is first important to note that Rock the Vote presents the subject of a possible reinstatement of the draft as bipartisan.

That being said, I believe Rock the Vote is trying to encourage awareness in young people towards the issues that will directly affect them. Indeed, the end of their letter on the possible reinstatement of the draft says, “This issue potentially affects your life. Be part of the discussion.”

All in all, I really have no qualms concerning what candidate the students on this campus vote for, although I would hope it will be John Kerry. For me, though, there are two important things to remember leading up to this November. First, that the debate over the candidates and their platforms must be well-informed. My disgust with Hardy and many others that have appeared in The Observer is, indeed, their lack of information. Second, this country belongs to young people too. So vote.

Steve McDevitt


Siegfried Hall

Sept. 23