News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 2, 2013

READERS’ FORUM: April 2, 2013

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Pondering the principles of voucher debate

The Indiana school voucher debate (referenced in Mike Walsh’s excellent March 27 letter) has potential to reveal the true nature of “neo-conservatism,” as characterized by today’s tea party Republicans. It’s an issue that can clearly differentiate between a principle-driven ideology and a group of folks who simply want what they want regardless, and/or are being manipulated and duped by the plutocratic elite to do their bidding (i.e. — profiteering our educational system at taxpayer expense).

The idea of demanding “at gunpoint” my or any other taxpayer’s hard-earned money in order to fund religious education and indoctrination is such a “no-brainer” … and a ridiculously easy notion to refute, if one adheres to the most basic brain-stem principles. It’s not only blatantly unconstitutional, it’s palpably wrong from multiple perspectives (some of which are allegedly core tea party values).

Consider this thought exercise. How vehemently do you suppose the Republican/tea party would be fighting for vouchers if 98 percent of the religious schools set to receive this taxpayer money were Muslim Madrassas, rather than Christian?

I know some might dishonestly claim otherwise and cite hypothetical “majority rule” dictums (being that it’s only a thought exercise, and not really going to happen), but odds are the tea party crowd would be absolutely, spittle spewing apoplectic with rage.

“Not in this country, buddy!” — many would avow. “Ours is a Democratic Republic, not a theocracy!”

“You may have the right to believe and teach your kids whatever you wish, but you do not have a right to force me to pay for it! The Constitution is quite clear about that,” they would undoubtedly, and rightfully, proclaim.

And some would angrily shout, “You can use my taxpayer dollars for such things when you pry them from my cold head hands.”

There is one undeniable profiteering caveat to this thought exercise, though.

If, for instance, Adelson, Mourdoch and/or the Koch brothers happened to be heavily invested in Muslim Madrassas, well … that would redefine the “principle” of the thing considerably, wouldn’t it?

If that were the case you just might hear something like this coming from the very same tea party crowd.

“Muslims have just as much right to that taxpayer money as anyone else in this country, and to use it in any manner they see fit, including religious indoctrination!” —  they would declare with a stern, albeit rather vacuous, look on their face. “The Constitution is quite clear about that, and only a socialist atheistic scumbag would say otherwise!”

So how do you think this voucher thing will play out among the tea partiers? Principle or plutocrat?

Anyone care to wager?

— Kerry Tomasi

Montezuma

Bill of Rights protects us all

No one can doubt that one of the greatest achievements and foresights of our founding fathers when forming the structure of our federal government included a Bill of Rights in the Constitution. The different political and philosophical schools of thoughts that debated the structure and powers of the federal government did not deny the citizens of specific government-protected rights which were identified and formed the Bill of Rights.

At any time tyrannical powers in many forms could arise against the citizens of this country from our government which could unconstitutionally surface and be deliberately and unconstitutionally legislated into government power. This was realized, and the founders protected all the citizens from it in the Bill of Rights.

I think everyone realizes there are many different schools of thought and philosophies of proper federal government authority under our Constitution.  There is the belief that the federal government should do everything and be all powerful, and there is the belief that the federal government should do very little. There are also many interpretations that the federal government power and authority should be somewhere in between. These are always and constantly being argued and debated.

Whether our federal government is weak or strong or somewhere in between, the Bill of Rights belongs to and is the rightful inheritance of all the citizens of this country. It was deliberately designed to be “laissez faire,” hands off by the newly formed government and to all future governments.

The Bill of Rights does not belong to the government or to any changing views of the federal government’s authority or power. The Bill of Rights protects the American citizen from his own government.

— Charles Bean

Terre Haute