I’m a registered Democrat. How does that sit with you? I took the time to sit down and read Dustin Gilbert’s column (March 3, “From the right”). Will you do the same for me?

To infer that people in poverty need to be “taught” how to get out of it implies that poor people are inferior to you.

How will you teach someone to get out of a situation in which the free market dictates that they make $7.00 an hour in a city where the living wage is $16.25 an hour, childcare costs $200 a week, higher education costs $6,000 a year and private health insurance costs $8933 per year?

Like Gilbert, I believe in a market economy, but I do not believe the market should dictate whether a person eats or has a bed to sleep in. One out of every eight children in this country goes to sleep hungry every night: the highest rate in the industrialized world.

In 2004, 37 million people, including 13 million children, lived below the poverty line of $15,219 for a family of three.

Like Gilbert, I believe that America is successful in many aspects. True, the U.S. has the highest gross income in the world. But 80 percent of America’s wealth is tied up in 20 percent of the population. Children from low-income families only have a one percent chance of reaching the top five percent of the income bracket. Our income mobility is lower than France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway and Denmark.

Unlike Gilbert, I am pro-choice. If a woman does not believe in abortion, then she doesn’t have to have one. But she should be given the choice.

I believe the world is far too complex to break down into good and evil. Despite Muslim terrorists, the Muslim religion itself is not evil. Christians have brutally tortured prisoners against U.S. and International Law, but the Christian religion is not evil either.

Unlike Gilbert, I believe that if you question authority, but never disobey it, no changes will ever be made.

Like Gilbert, I believe in the right to bear arms and protecting the Second Amendment. I also believe in the Declaration of Independence, which guarantees every American citizen the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” I do not believe every American citizen is given that right equally.

Unlike Gilbert, I believe in the welfare system. Anyone attending a public school is a beneficiary of it. You, at USM, are a beneficiary of it. Even if you don’t get financial aid, the state funds about 30 percent of USM’s budget.

I believe that Social Security is not a failure, it has drastically cut poverty amongst seniors in this country.

Like Gilbert, I believe this country is great, but that it can be better. And its future does lie in the Facebook/Myspace Generation.

Unlike Gilbert, I believe that people can be good friends no matter what their political views are.

I agree that Comedy Central is not a good source of daily news, but it is a good place to put a humorous twist on situations presented in the media. I also believe that any news received from CNN or other national news organizations should be taken with a grain of salt.

I believe that George Bush should have gotten permission from the UN before entering Iraq-he broke international law to do so. Iraq had not attacked any other nation for twelve years. It lacked the capacity to lodge an imminent attack on any country. Its military capability had been severely weakened by the Gulf War and years of harsh inspections.

If we are going to have a military presence in Iraq, we also need to have a significant military presence in Darfur where mass genocide has been occurring for years.

But that’s just food for thought.

Laura Ashworth is a junior at USM.

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