To the Editor:
Oliver Hudson ’14 claims that those who do not pay taxes are not contributing to society and that it is therefore immoral for them to vote. But think about who these people are – they are often working menial hard labor jobs that literally build and form the backbone to society. Beyond that, it is patently offensive to bring this into the moral realm and claim that people who do not make enough money to be taxed should not have (theoretically) equal weight and voice in the voting process. Does Hudson understand anything about systematic inequalities or the processes by which these inequalities are (ideally) supposed to be addressed? The democratic system will never work to create or fulfill meaningful change if the rich – who already exercise considerably more power and influence in the status quo due to their wealth – are able to further drown out the “immoral” voices of the needy. Hudson is only contributing to the dangerous myth of the “welfare queen,” the idea that there are huge populations of freeloading poor people who live comfortably off of social services and add nothing to society in return.
Hudson needs to do more than this amateur and flawed one-dimensional “economic” analysis, which fails to take systematic inequalities into account. He needs to think about why wealth dynamics exist, why democracy exists and why it is both unconstitutional and immoral to justify giving people who are already in power more say over the lives of those who are not.
Yvonne Yu ’13
To the Editor:
We should demand more from opinions editors at The Herald. Oliver Hudson’s recent column (“Universal Suffrage is Immoral,” Nov. 13) is not intellectually provocative; it is just shock and awe designed to stir outrage and drive page views. Hudson implies that allowing poor people to vote is more immoral than completely disenfranchising them. He says his isn’t a “radical backward idea” to “exclude certain groups from voting on the basis of gender or race.” No, it is literally an idea to exclude certain groups from voting on the basis of income and net worth. That sounds both radical and backwards and contrary to moral systems like Christianity.
A quality newspaper should not publish opinions just for the sake of shock and awe. It isn’t hard to find problems in Hudson’s column, which does not bother to consider the long-term moral consequences of his proposal. It does not consider popular systems of morality beyond his own Objectivist leanings. I wonder: Is it moral for The Herald to publish half-baked and oppressive proposals for the sake of controversy?
Steven Gomez GS
To the Editor:
The Herald has a long and proud tradition of allowing misguided and delusional individuals to voice their beliefs in the opinion pages. Some of these opinions have given me much ironic enjoyment – I particularly enjoy some of the conservative members of campus who have the courage to speak up in a politically hostile environment. I also believe there is great benefit to reading a dissenting or unpopular viewpoint.
However, I think opinion columnists should be held to a reasonable minimum standard, which writer Oliver Hudson has not met in his recent piece (“Universal suffrage is immoral,” Nov. 13) The corporate boosterism and Ayn Rand philosophy he espouses are nothing new in the pages of The Herald, but under this libertarian veneer his recommendations cannot be construed as anything but racist.
Among the many factual omissions in the article, Hudson fails to note that the United States has a long and storied history where his suggestions were actually practiced – in Southern states in the Jim Crow era. There, racist lawmakers employed poll taxes, using similar logic, to disenfranchise African-American and other minority voters. A modern system of voting eligibility based on income tax payments would have a similar effect on minority populations, which pay substantial amounts of taxes in other ways.
If a columnist directly advocated returning the country to the Jim Crow era, he would not be allowed to remain a columnist at The Herald. Not because he would be censored, but because having a column is a privilege reserved for those engaged in productive speech. Racist views and suggestions can be aired in other forums – even when only argued for indirectly, they do not need or deserve to be given space in The Herald.
Ben Struhl ’09