OPolitics Debate

Justin Oei, Staff Writer

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Now that the presidential debates have begun, it’s time for another round of OPolitics. OPolitics was started last year to bring the voices of the student body into the political scene through a series of roundtables that ultimately are published right here in the Omega. This time, we are privileged to interview Luca Santerella ’18, Fernando Aviles ’19, Sean Vowells ’19, and Jack Anderson ’19.

  1. Just last month, four terroristic bombings occurred in New York, Elizabeth, and Seaside Park. It was later revealed that the bomber made frequent trips to Afghanistan and, according to his ex-wife, may have been radicalized during his time there. What should our response be to such attacks from the lens of security in immigration from the Middle East?
    Jack Anderson: I don’t think we really had the upper hand in this. He wasn’t a refugee who came here a long time ago…His father reported him to the FBI as a terrorist, but they didn’t do too much about it. What I do know is that I believe we should cut off immigration from those parts of the world that are having terroristic violence right now until the situation gets better.
    Luca Santarella: I think that what Mr. Anderson and other Republicans are making the mistake of doing are labeling a whole group as terrorism – Islamic terrorism – when in reality it’s Wahabbism, non-Islamic terrorism. It alienates a group of people from actually helping with the threat. I think if you alienate the population…you lose a huge ally you could potentially use to help fight terrorism with. And you have to remember, there are about three billion Muslims in the world. The majority are not terrorists.
    Jack Anderson: Luca made the observation that Donald Trump is taking Islamic society and putting a sheet or cover over it. I never said that; what I said that is at the moment we need to stop immigration from those places [where there are acts of terroristic violence]. We shouldn’t be involved in those countries. I don’t know why we have to.
    Luca Santarella: Anderson, there has never been, to my knowledge, an attack from a refugee. And refugees have been entering this country, Germany, Canada, and France.
  2. Which do you feel is more effective: raising the minimum wage, lowering taxes for the working class, or a combination of both?
    Sean Vowells: Raising the minimum wage, but to an extent. Where it gets too high, companies can’t pay workers. You’re actually hurting the economy – because when you can’t pay workers, they have no job instead of a job.
    Fernando Aviles: The best option is to lower taxes for the working class and to raise them for the upper class. The upper class, there’s tons of ways to make the upper class reduce the taxes they pay. For example, all those who donate to their own foundations. All of that becomes tax-deductible.
    Luca Santarella: So like Fernando said, the rich people in the country have a lot more means to market their money. But some math over here says that the minimum wage that’s proposed – $15 an hour – $15 an hour times eight hours a day, times five days a week, times fifty-two weeks a year – is only $31, 200. If you think about it, $31,000 doesn’t get you very far in this economy. So that already says that the minimum wage is far under what people need to survive. Secondly, in regard to trickle-down economics, I have [two uncles], one that worked for a landscaping company. One argued for trickle-down economics, the other against. I asked him a question: “You said your boss just bought a new boat. Well, has he hired any new employees recently this year?” He goes “No.” “The last five years?” “No.” “The last ten years?” “No.” Well, he obviously has enough money to buy a new boat. So trickle down economics, when you give money and tax benefits to the wealthy, obviously doesn’t benefit the economy. He didn’t hire any new employees [with that money]. All he did was buy himself a new boat.
    Jack Anderson: I see what Luca is saying here, but what I have to make a point about is that the Democrats say that they want to raise the taxes on the upper class, they’re not just identifying the upper class as the super-rich people, they’re kinda keeping the middle class in that upper class spectrum. The middle class is paying just as much.
    Luca Santarella: The only difference is people that say putting their money in offshore accounts is fine. People do that, but when they don’t pay US taxes, they pass the burden of [paying for] services on to everyone else. That’s the clean water you drink, the clean air you breathe, the roads you drive on, the bridges you go over, the airports and airplanes. What we really need to do is keep people from putting money in offshore accounts
  3. Governor Christie froze the Transportation Trust Fund in July (which was the provision of funding for many vital infrastructure projects, including the Morris Avenue Bridge). He and Assembly Democrats are at a deadlock on how to provide funding; currently, the impasse is related to whether the funding woes should be solved via a raise on the gas tax or property tax. What is your opinion on this?
    Luca Santerella: The answer in funding road projects cannot be in raising gas taxes, because that would harm local businesses that ship their goods and render services. The better thing would be to raise the property taxes. Both of these options don’t seem to be the best, but the only other option you could take would be to reduce government spending.
    Sean Vowells: It should go to the gas tax because property tax is already too high. Due to the low gas prices at the moment, The gas tax should be able to fund the Transportation Trust Fund.
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