Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Abolishing the Poll Tax Again

An excellent commentary on the current movement toward restoring slightly-veiled poll taxes again --- which is being attempted even here in Wisconsin.

If the legislative powers were actually interested in having proper picture identifications for everyone, they would do what was necessary to make them simple to get, no matter where in the state one lives and even outside of "normal working hours", and the ids and the documents needed to get the ids would be without cost. (I'm usually counted among the wealthy of my neighborhood, and it takes doing to scrape up the fee every time my undrivers id comes due for renewal; I know some of my neighbors are priced out, or can't afford to take the unpaid day from work)



Anonymous said...

I hope I don't sound mean (only because I'm actually not), but it really annoys me when people like the NY Times reporter responsible for the referenced article omit specific, salient facts that would cast this "news" story in an entirely different context. Sadly, you fail in this regard yourself or so it would seem from your brief comments.

In my state, the Maryland Motor vehicle Administration has for years made available to the public a MD state ID as an identity card for the public not willing, able, or interested in driving a vehicle. While naturally it does NOT serve as a driver's license this state ID card is used by people who don't drive but need a certifiable ID for a variety of purposes.

There are three major functions served by such a MVA ID card routinely utilized by people possessing a driver’s license but who may never drive. First, to show legal age for entrance to and/or service in an establishment licensed to sell alcoholic beverages. Even more routinely, people need the ability to show ID when conducting financial business like writing a check. Finally, in an age of rampant ID theft many merchants now require a license as backup ID when using a credit card for the protection of the cardholder as well as the business.

Non-drivers need all three benefits (and other possible uses as well), and these needs have existed for drivers & non-drivers for decades. This is a fact, but also is supported by common sense that would lead one to conclude this is actually the case if only one is a reasonable person without a political/moral agenda to achieve.

Naturally, there is a REDUCED annual fee compared to a full driver's license. This is also reasonable. In MD it is about the same as in GA, which simply is NOT a budget buster on an annual basis - even for the poor. I myself have never experienced anything approaching wealth, and sometimes have been on the lower end of annual income more often than I care to admit in detail, and I always manage to pay for my driver's license, which costs – appropriately - more.

It is important to admit that one major reason some poor people remain poor is their consistent exercise of poor judgment on how and where to spend limited funds. Much of the problem stems from an inability to prioritize, and therefore a tendency to self-sabotage (this observation is neither a put-down or - in this discussion - a criticism). It is a simple fact that must be stated for clarification of this "issue". Please not that NOT all poor people remain poor - most people actually move up economically over their lifetime according to US Census and other reliable stats.

Therefore, Georgia's $20 annual fee is NOT a poll tax. It is neither a legitimate political or moral issue - and should not be so hijacked. Even poor people blow $20 on bad choices for unnecessary things throughout the year.

I've never researched this, but 5 will get you 10 that all 50 states have made this very same type of ID card available for a similarly nominal fee, and for several decades at least.

Now, you and I might reasonably differ over the perceived hardship of $20 annually for the purposes described above, and people certainly continue to opt out of making that choice for whatever reason might suit them.

But GA correctly is trying to solve a major voting problem where all voters are at risk of having their voting preferences canceled out by those of any political persuasion dishonest enough to vote twice or more. Asking for a photo ID is simply one of the very best "first steps" that can be taken to protect ALL OF US at the polls. This legislation should be national in scope.


Ignored by you, the reporter, most of the media, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, the judge who threw out the law as a "poll tax" is that the bill was deliberately written to waive the cost of this multi-purpose ID for anyone "too poor" to afford it.

I completely disagree with this except on the most stringent “means testing” basis for fixed-income poor like the elderly. However, that is only my opinion for the reasons expressed above. Reasonable people may disagree over appropriate structures.

However, in this case this waiver clause was written at the expressed request of the Republican governor of GA. And ALL OF YOU ignore that fact to make political/moral grist for your mill.

The indisputable conclusion is that such complaining is intellectually and morally dishonest. Instead, the truth is that no poor person in GA is denied a state ID card to verify legitimate voting registration because of alleged poverty.


I am a Catholic who recently returned to the Church, and I have been seeking Catholic blogs (as well as other Catholic resources) to enhance my renewed spiritual growth. I came to your site only because Some Catholic Blogs (St. Blog's Parish) specifically described you as “something of a contemplative”. I am visiting with Catholic blogs like yours (and other RC sites) in hopes that by doing so over time I might find something spiritually from many of you that I need but don’t yet have.

I must say I have been very disappointed in the purported spiritual and moral commentary offered by fellow Catholics in the way of observations of societal issues. Your blog commentary that I have so far read seems to be no exception, whether by design (I surely hope not) or inadvertent. Either way, I feel a bit put-off and far less optimistic about your judgment in moral or spiritual matters when in my first visit I see clear evidence that you are at least in-unformed, morally confused, or worst of all, deliberately disingenuous in your spin of such a small non-issue. I have to wonder why some people are so opposed to cleaning up voter fraud in such a sweeping and effective manner. This proposal simply oozes common sense, propriety, and logic. Anyone opposing it for the reasons cited by the NYT must be viewed askance when factoring in the poverty waiver. Calling this a poll tax – veiled or not – is simply dishonest, and the last time I looked Catholic and Christian morality precludes such dishonesty as an option no matter what our lofty purpose!

I apologize about the length of this comment. I hope to see better-researched and more accurate commentary from you in the future.

Karen Marie said...

deleted the accidental duplicate. God bless,

karen marie