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bendavidweber's Comments

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Harvard Political Review Publishes Annual Report on America

Harvard Political Review Publishes Annual Report on America

Commented Oct 25, 2010 at 16:36:03 in College

“To follow up on my last comment, I also think that this problem of evaluating the facts of budget priorities and government spending compared to the more emotively charged issues harped on by Tea Party and other candidates is at the heart of our political system (indeed it was one of the things Madison addresses in the Federalist Papers) and needs to be tackled head on and on multiple fronts. The ARUSA study is an admirable starting place but may be seen as elitist or may not reach the certain groups of people. The question is how do we empower communities to engage in forms of participatory democracy on the local level and not only consume but in fact generate this type of vitally important political information. Racist candidates like Glenn Miller (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNrKqjYfv74&NR=1) and blatantly misinformed candidates like Christine O'Donnell who doesn't even understand what is in the 1st Amendment (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miwSljJAzqg) make headlines daily while the budget numbers are somehow not quite as sexy. The idea that Harvard undergraduates need to inform citizens how the country stacks up may not go over quite as well as a more bottom-up approach which advocates for the kind of civic engagement which enables people to tell Harvard how the nation stacks up from their vantage. Just a thought...”
Harvard Political Review Publishes Annual Report on America

Harvard Political Review Publishes Annual Report on America

Commented Oct 25, 2010 at 16:27:27 in College

“I applaud the authors of the study and agree that this is precisely the kind of informed discourse which could enliven the political process and help the country elect politicians who are more accountable to the people, especially in terms of the budget priorities. I am similarly impressed by the bipartisan collaboration ARUSA was able to model. I do worry that the agreement they were able to reach was a kind of indictment of too much government spending, because this logic can lead to the slashing of social security funding more easily than cutting the defense (war) budget. Government spending priorities are certainly of crucial importance but we must be careful not to enter into the false dichotomy of spending/not spending without taking a good hard look at the tax structure which have shifted so far away from the progressive income taxing we had pre-Reagan and how drastically less we tax the wealthiest compared to other countries, like most of our counterparts in Europe. The indictment of government spending should be accompanied with an indictment of the revenue generating sources like taxes. I think the ARUSA authors' emphasis on understanding the current spending priorities is spot-on but would be scared if the take away was simply that the government spends too much without examining a whole host of creative solutions which could include radically rethinking the tax structure or even spending more to empower local communities, to address institutional racism and historic inequalities, and on social programs.”