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Regarding taxes, it's no pain, no gain.

Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Tristan Linquist For The Register-Guard

The three headlines from the April 16 Register-Guard worth noting are these: 1. "Tea-ed off about taxes." 2. "Springfield schools to trim pay, calendar, and teachers next year." And 3. "State dropout rate declines to 20-year low."

The headlines decry the reality of our deep economic fissure: the highest unemployment rate in 26 years and rising; the expectation of massive statewide teacher layoffs; food banks running out of food.

And yet, in the midst of it, in the belly of the whale, we are witness to the continued idiocy of failed policies, propagated by a dwindling, and exceedingly vocal and desperate, minority.

Conservative-sponsored "tea parties" populated street corners around the country on April 15 in an attempt to bring to light the "failed" government policies of taking care of the people. There is irony in that last statement.

I've spent eight years as an adult member of the lower middle class, watching myself and the majority of people in the United States, those in my tax bracket and those that make less, repeatedly ignored and disenfranchised by those in power - that 1 percent at the top of the heap. After witnessing that, it is mind- boggling to see citizens protest the payment of taxes because they are against the use of government money to save and create jobs while improving the infrastructure that they inevitably will use.

Have we forgotten already the lies that we have suffered the last eight years? Have we not learned that radical disengagement of government programs only leads to corruption through no-bid contracts? Have we not learned that a government by the people and of the people also should be for the people?

I am a first-year teacher at a Eugene public school. I graduated from North Medford High School in 2000, and since that time have incurred $50,000-plus in federal loans to receive degrees and licenses so that I could return the favor. I am grateful for having been allowed the opportunity to become educated; I would like to enliven students to dive into these same opportunities.

I am doing that duty as I write this essay; I am trying with all of my might to talk students into obtaining a higher education if they are able to graduate - students whose parents have been laid off, students who face the reality of homelessness and hunger, students who use their meager paychecks from part-time jobs at fast food restaurants to pay bills that their parents can't.

I also keep my students informed of the news: the fact that it is likely that their English class next year will have 50 students in it.

The fact that after 20 years of hard work, dropout rates finally are being reduced, and that next year those 20 years of work will be undone.

The fact that I likely will be laid off, and that my master's degree will not make me any more attractive on the job market than will their (hopefully) completed high school diplomas.

We are at the precipice. We can let another generation of youth lose out. We can reverse the American mission further. We can watch dropout rates climb, property crimes climb, teen drug and alcohol abuse climb, and teen suicide rates climb.

Or we can make sure that politicians such as Sid Leiken, our local Janus, who willingly accepts stimulus dollars with his left hand while raising his right fist in the air at our local tea party, are never elected again.

We can make sure that this is the death shudder of a dragon that has scorched the earth of its bounty over the last decade.

We can make sure that this generation of school-age children is not lost to poverty and malediction.

We can pay our taxes.

Tristan Linquist of Eugene teaches in the Bethel School District.
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Title Annotation:Local Opinion
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 21, 2009
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