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Letter: Constitution established thick wall between church, state

The Cato Institute’s Jason Bedrick reminds us in his July 4 Monitor column that “Your money is not the government’s.”

Sure, Jason, and the roads are not yours, and the clean water coming out of your tap is not yours, and the state parks are not yours, and the police are not yours, and the firefighters are not yours, and we could go on for pages.

Your money, taxed or charged through fees by your public officials, who have been hired by your vote, funds collective public goods as permitted by the New Hampshire Constitution, which among other things established a thick wall between church and state. Nothing stops you from using your money for other purposes, but the tough medicine of living in a community is that we made a democratic decision to come together to fund things that serve the public interest.

Jason, if you want to fund a madrassa, a yeshiva, a bible school, knock yourself out – but do it directly and not with clever language used to divert funds we have designated for the public sphere. I hear they don’t tax you much in Haiti; sounds like a great place to pay for everything you need, including, infrastructure, religious schools, safety, sewage . . . au revoir.

ARNIE ARNESEN

Concord

Rather than address the arguments that I actually made, Arnie chooses instead to attack straw men. I pointed out that the Supreme Court held that your money does not become the government's money until it has reached the tax collector's hand. Arnie responds by prattling about publicly-funded roads and emergency services funded by money that has clearly reached the tax collector's hand. Arnie asserts a "thick wall between church and state" but doesn't address the history of constitutional precedent that I set forth. The U.S. Supreme Court and N.H. Supreme Court both hold that funding parents who may or may not choose a religious education does not violation the U.S. or N.H. Constitutions. Arnie also mistakes me for an anarchist who believes that there is no role for public funding of anything. Nowhere in my op-ed did I make any argument that the government shouldn't fund emergency services or that taxes are too high (another non-sequitur). If I were to follow the same line of Arnie's sloppy logic, I'd advise him to move to North Korea, but of course that would be absurd and uncharitable.

Arnie also writes that "the tough medicine of living in a community is that we made a democratic decision to come together to fund things that serve the public interest." Yes, and it may be tough medicine for Arnie that the legislature overwhelmingly supported a scholarship tax credit program that funds low-income students attending the schools of their parents choice because expanding educational options is in the public interest.

And as my libertarian friends are so quick to remind me when I forget it, we are a constitutional republic, not a democracy. The Constitution makes sure that the legislatures and governors don't stray from the founding principles, one of which is the separation between church and state.

I was using the term "democratic" in the broad sense that Arnie was. Obviously we're a constitutional republic. As I explained in my original op-ed, a scholarship tax credit program does not violate either the U.S. or N.H. Constitutions. http://www.concordmonitor.com/home/7288919-95/my-turn-monitor-judge-wrongly-argue-your-money-is-the-governments-money

I take exception to your description that it was a "democratic decision" , given that many of the reps were stealth candidates with far-right views that did not accurately reflect those of their constituents. What they supported was a program that clearly violated the NH Constitution.

They were democratically elected whether you like it or not. The democratically-elected legislature this year declined to repeal the scholarship tax credit program, so that's two legislatures in a row with very different political make-ups that have supported the program. And, as I explained earlier, it does not violate the NH Constitution. http://www.concordmonitor.com/home/7288919-95/my-turn-monitor-judge-wrongly-argue-your-money-is-the-governments-money

It may have passed but under conditions that would sicken our founding father's. Partisan politics at it's worse. Say what has happened to Bully O'Brien, it seems he dropped off the face of the earth. Elected representatives are supposed to represent all citizens, not work on a private agenda. Or did I misread the job description?? Doubt it.

Mauser, Bruce, Publius . . . game, set, match! Sorry Jason.

Four commenters and not a single logical argument among them. Impressive.

A tally worthy of a public grade school teacher.......a more relevant tally would be the rocketing increase in the number of students taught outside of the dysfunctional Govt institutional centers of liberal indoctrination AKA public schools.

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