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Columbia Missourian

Letter: Approving tax levy will help decrease ignorance and want

By Michael Harmata, Columbia
April 4, 2008 | 1:11 p.m. CDT

I just returned from a Columbia Public Schools Board of Education meeting where budget cuts were discussed. It was not a happy time for anyone. One thing is certain, the item that is to appear on the April 8 ballot, authorizing the district to increase the operating tax levy, needs to be approved.

I am a conservative (not a Republican!). New taxes make me sick. The fact that schools are funded through property taxes seems completely absurd to me. The answer to that problem must come later.

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For the present, let me also state that despite many blemishes, I love our city, state and country. My feeling is that nationally, we presently have people in charge who are sympathetic to anti-education and particularly anti-science influences. This is dangerous for our democracy.

Our country depends on a citizenry with informed minds, noble spirits and compassionate souls. Not everyone possesses these qualities, but we do the best we can. Public education is vital in producing the citizens that are the lifeblood of democracy and thus, for those who prefer a more tangible concept, our national security.

In Charles Dickens novel “A Christmas Carol,” he includes a scene in which Scrooge is confronted with creatures hidden beneath the cloak of the Ghost of Christmas Present. Scrooge is told, “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

Perhaps we can never end these two of man’s greatest afflictions, but we can decrease Ignorance and consequently Want, and build a better community and world, through education. The present asks it. The past demands it. The future, our posterity, longs for it.

Therefore, I ask all citizens of good conscience and of a civic mind to support this tax levy and to work in the future with providing unique solutions to the problem of funding public education and to ensure that the high standard of public education that Columbia has built does not die. Vote yes on the tax levy ballot issue and encourage all those of good will to do likewise.