The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Reising Issues

John Koenig

OK everybody, I’ve been developing this idea that I really think would benefit all of us, if only we could generate some support and ram it through the legislature. It’s called the Caring for the Rights of the American
People Act.

You may not agree with me, but I truly believe the CRAP Act would revolutionize the way we view our rights in this country, making it essential to the continued welfare of our free society.

Now, you don’t need to read the measure itself to check for any discrepancies or points of contention. You should just take my word for it that this initiative will accomplish all of its objectives without creating the possibility of any adverse effects.

It doesn’t matter that the CRAP Act goes to lengths only my supporters and I think are necessary, and I want you to disregard any criticism from my detractors – they clearly just don’t care about the rights of the American people.

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So how many of you are on board? I’m hoping not too many, because the proposal I just made was complete garbage. I failed to provide any tangible information about my idea or even allow for the possibility of another point of view.

But if you take a critical look at some of the initiatives politicians propose under similar circumstances, mine wasn’t that bad. Framing an idea in a positive light by slapping a vague, politically-charged name that unfairly stigmatizes critics is a typical political tactic, regardless of political ideology or level of government.

Generally, politicians are fairly subtle about it as they carefully craft their messages to woo the public. But every once in a while, a few extreme examples slip through, creating problems that sometimes don’t surface until it’s too late.

Let’s start with an obvious one. In the aftermath of 9/11, with our political leaders and the public galvanized behind the president, you would have been hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t feel some sense of nationalism. That’s why a little piece of legislation called the Patriot Act sailed through Congress relatively smoothly. It didn’t matter if the act contained some provisions that could lead to infringement of people’s rights. You’re patriotic, right?

Both the legislative and judicial branches of government have scrutinized the act since, at times condemning some of its tenets.

Let’s stay with the federal government for a bit, but move to the topic of education. When the No Child Left Behind Act was born, proponents presented it as a revolutionary measure that would establish greater accountability in our schools. A fitting initiative, since nobody wants to leave our children behind.

In reality, any schools that cannot meet the act’s educational standards – like, for instance, poor inner-city schools that are in desperate need of funding – are penalized monetarily, driving them down further.

Now, years later, with the number of schools pegged as substandard and left with decreased funds mounting, the federal government has agreed to review the way it assesses school performance, according to recent news reports.

This dynamic also holds true on the state level. The first example that comes to mind is the failed Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or its latest manifestation, the Taxpayer Protection Amendment.

According to reports, the amendment would tie tax levy increases on the state and local level to population and inflation rates. If a government program requires more tax revenue, it will face cuts unless redeemed by public referendum.

Sounds good right? We deserve rights and protection when it comes to our hard-earned money.

What proponents of this sort of measure won’t tell you is how severely such a revenue cut would damage public services.

They also won’t tell you how difficult it is to coax voters to participate in a referendum, let alone vote in favor of a tax increase, even if it’s for a servicethey genuinely want.

These are just a few of the most ridiculous examples in recent years of a trend that spans the existence of modern political thought. Obviously, in our two-party system, politicians on both sides will present their ideas in a favorable context. After all, they probably do believe that their ideas, if brought to fruition, would remedy many of the problems our country suffers from.

All I’m saying is people need to be wary and politicians need to remain forthright. Because sometimes, when things go too far, it all turns into a bunch of, well, CRAP.

Brian Reisinger is a junior print journalism major and editorial editor of The Spectator. Reising Issues is a weekly column that appears every Thursday.

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