The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Many voters could use refresher course in U.S. civics
SOMETIMES I think Americans should be required to take some kind of a civics course and pass a test before being allowed to vote.
Half the people I talk to don’t have a clue about the issues in the upcoming presidential election or what each candidate believes.
Yet most of them will walk into a voting booth and pull a lever, mark a ballot or push a computer screen on Election Day.
Then again, even if we took a refresher course, we still might not know what to believe because each candidate bombards the airways with erroneous information about the other. Somehow we have to sort it all out.
This summer, older Americans were frightened by rumors that Mitt Romney would do away with Medicare if elected.
Then there was the story that every American who sold a home would have to pay a 3.7 percent tax because of President Obama’s health care plan.
Neither, of course, was true. Once the rumors get started, however, they soon become gospel and emotion replaces common sense.
The truth is that most of the things presidential candidates promise they can’t do. Just because one says he will raise taxes or the other says he will lower them doesn’t mean that either really can.
Remember your high school civics? Only Congress has the power to tax. Presidents may suggest, but only the House of Representatives and the Senate can make it happen.
This campaign has also focused on Romney’s wealth and the fact that he reportedly paid federal taxes at only a 14 percent rate last year.
I loved the TV commercial that inferred that all the working viewers were paying more in taxes than Romney.
What the commercial meant, of course, was that the average American might be paying taxes at a higher rate than Romney, which is likely true. It implied, however, that Average Joe was sending more tax dollars to Washington than Romney.
Let’s take a refresher course in math. Say the average American is making $100,000 (that’s high, I know) a year and paying taxes at a 25 percent rate. That means the government claimed $25,000 for that tax year.
If Romney made $20 million and was taxed at a 14 percent rate, he paid $2.8 million to the government. That means that he alone paid more federal taxes than the combined total of almost 120 “average” Americans making $100,000 a year.
When it comes down to money, no presidential candidate has a right to criticize his opponent.
Remember your high school history. Who was the last poor man to be elected president?
Well, Abe Lincoln, I guess.
Well, guess again. Lincoln was a lawyer and, compared to the average American farmer making $500 a year (at best), he was a rich man.
Presidential candidates from both political parties always try to identify with the working man, but, relatively speaking, they are all rich. You have to be wealthy to even be considered a presidential hopeful.
History shows us that this is nothing new. Since the world began, the rich have been deciding the fate of the poor. That’s just a fact of life. Money is power.
Oh, you may be born poor—like Lincoln or Obama—but you had better build a bank account if you want to achieve power. Try to get a rich man to make a large campaign contribution to a poor candidate! It’s not likely to happen.
Yes, maybe Americans need to take refresher courses and pass a test before being allowed to vote for president. If they believe that the man in the White House can just wave a magic wand and make things happen, they have forgotten how the federal government works.
If they think that 25 percent of $100,000 is more than 14 percent of $20 million, then they are really ignorant.
But if they think a poor man is going to be elected president, they need more than a refresher course in civics.
They need a psychiatrist.