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July 15, 1981 - Image 6

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Michigan Daily, 1981-07-15

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Opinion

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Wednesday, July 15, 1981

The Michigan Daily

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The Michigan Daily
Vol. XCI, No. 40-S
Ninety Years of Editorial Freedom
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan
Spelling relief
M-O-N-E-Y
T HERE WAS PROFOUND truth in the
words spoken the other day by Lech
Walesa, Poland's Solidarity union leader.
"I've been traveling around the country
looking for counter-revolutionaries and anti-
socialists," he told a stadium full of cheering
supporters, "I couldn't find any."
In a nation drowning in idle rhetoric, this
statement clarified a crucial-though widely
unappreciated-sentiment that the working
classes hold in Poland, and it serves as an im-
portant pretext for the beleaguered nation's
Communist Party Congress.
The issue is not politics, the common man
will tell you, it is economics. It is not the
inherent evils of the nation's political struc-
ture that has them striking and demon-
strating. Rather, it is the empty food stores,
the two-year waits for Warsaw apartments,
the sprawling lines for $2.10-a-gallon gasoline,
that has inspired Solidarity. If the Marxist-
Leninist system were thriving, instead of nur-
sing a $27 billion debt to Western banks, and if
a bountiful standard of living existed, there
would be much less ideological conflict.
Oddly enough, the preoccupation of Polish
government officials-and their allies at the
Kremlin-has been with political concerns.
Lofty speeches by these leaders have been
heavy on the rightousness of socialism, and
light on tangible economic issues. What is
needed is a rational, thorough dialogue on the
crippled economy-a review of its causes, and
a program for recovery.
If they spend the entire week praising the
virtues of Vladimir Lenin, and avoiding an
exhaustive deliberation on improving finan-
cial conditions, all the social reforms will be
futile. Only through significant economic im-
provements will the perilous tensions subside.
True, some members of Solidarity have
begun demanding broad, fundamental
changes in the system, extending beyond
economics. But the critical problems in
Poland, the glaring difficulties that- have
ignited its discontent, are purely financial.
For the rank and file, the impoverished
masses who receive six pounds of rationed
meat apiece to last a month, the main concern
is for effective management of Poland's
economy.

By Donavan Mack
Examining legislation through
the frame of a stated public
policy is like examining a product
through an advertisement. You
must see through the opaque and
consider the facts not given.
Every citizen is a consumer of
public policy, which is literally
sold to him or her on the basis of
serving the public interest.
Meanwhile, the actual legislation
employed does not.
A case in point is Doug
Newman's article, "Free Enter-
prise Can Save U.S. Education,"
published in the Daily July.7.
IN ORDER TO proselytize
support for current tuition tax
credit legislation, Newman
resorts to a philosophical debate
between public and private
education, rather than discussing
the controversies within the
proposed legislation itself.
A tuition tax credit means that
a certain portion of a child's
education is deducted from the
family's federal income tax. Fif-
teen variations are proposed in
Congress. The examples offered
by Newman are the Packwood-
Moynihan plan, which allows
credit for private school atten-
dance, and the "voucher plan,"
adaptable to both public and
private schools.
Newman presents these plans
against a backdrop of
deteriorating conditions in urban
public education. ("In many
areas, including suburbs and
small towns, public schools are
generally in fine shape.") To
Newman, the problem is a lack of
competition. The government,
having a virtual monopoly on
education, can afford to continue
pumping billions of taxpayers'
dollars into public schooling,
without achieving a correspon-
ding improvement in quality.

NEVER DOES NEWMAN ex-
plain why he thinks insufficient
competition gives rise to this
discrepency in excellence bet-
ween inner-city and other public
schools. Here is his stumbling
block for his free-enterprise
solution to education.
Newman then concludes "the
issue at hand is freedom pf
choice, which is what this country
was founded upon." I thought the
issue was financial assistance.
Also, Newman focuses strictly on
elementary and secondary
schools. However, tuition tax
credits will affect postsecondary
education as well.
Consider the real effects on
college education. Tuition tax
credits are regressive in
nature-all students would
receive an equal allocation
despite their need.
FURTHERMORE, families in
low-income brackets who do not
pay federal income taxes equal to
the credit would not have
anything to gain. This fact denies
that the credit approach works
for the benefit of the non-affluent.
There also exists a pool of in-
dependent students who would
not accrue credit. Usually, they
do not pay federal taxes.
The cost-conscious Newman
should realize that tuition tax,
credits are expensive to the
treasury and the taxpayer. Of-
ficials from the National Student
Education Fund estimate that for
postsecondary credit alone, the
U.S. Treasury would lose four to
six billion dollars in revenue.
Moreover, the involvement of
government is not decreased.
Administration of aid shifts to the
Internal Revenue Service, and
aid policy shifts from one serving
financially disadvantaged
students to all students.
ALREADY THE ad-
ministration has cut over $2
billion in education. At a time

when Congress is concerned with
balancing the budget, the drain
on the Treasury caused by tuition
tax credits would likely be made
up by further deductions in
allocations to education. Five
billion dollars would be much bet-
ter spent on increasing Pell
Grants, General Student Loans,
and other aid programs which
have been successful in providing
equal access to public and
private education in the past.
Finally, tuition tax credits are
an indirect form of assistance.
The USSA warns that "an end
result of the passage of tuition tax
credits would be that students
would not receive the moneys
when they need them most.
Student aid programs provide
benefits directly to the student at
the time he or she is faced with
paying tuition and fees, not 6-15
months later, as is the case with
tuition tax credits."
In this light, the tuition tax
credit proposals do not fit as
neatly into ideals of freedom of
choice as Doug Newman would
have us believe. Students should
be the last sector to be fooled by
the Reagan Administration's
conviction that government in-
volvement restricts freedom of
choice.
Newman has not proven the
value of competition in
education. There is no call for
tuition tax credits. They do not
serve the public interest, in-
cluding college students. They
are regressive, expensive, in-
direct, and insensitive to the
needy.
Take action and write your
representative in Congress. Ex-
press your firm opposition.
Donavan Mack is a junior in
Sociology and a coordinator
of the PIRGIM Student Aid
Task Force.

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