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Thursday November 26, 2015
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High school students report being unprepared for college (August 28, 2014 issue)

By Daniel Maloney
Collegian Editor

This week, at the start of one of my education classes, the professor posed a question to the class: did we consider ourselves “college-ready” when we entered La Salle as freshmen. It’s a pertinent question, not only for education majors. The start of a new fall term also marks the entrance of a new class of Lasallian freshmen, which will certainly be full of students asking themselves that very question soon.

College preparedness has made its way into the news recently and the issues shaping education today will have long-standing consequences. U.S. News and World Report reported that nearly 30 percent of high school students taking the SAT were unprepared for college, a finding that agrees with the feelings of many of the high school students that I know.

Last year, the College Board announced that it would be restructuring the SAT, the bane of many high school juniors and seniors. The motive behind the changes was an attempt to test students on more pertinent and practical knowledge and eliminate the edge students who could afford test-prep classes over other students.

In addition, last month, Temple University also announced that an SAT score was no longer a necessary element of a college application. The flurry of news about changes in the SAT seems to suggest two distinct things about a standard measure of college preparedness. First, the old system was, basically, a failure. Secondly, Temple’s choice to scrap the SAT application requirement seems to implicate that higher education itself is suggesting the unreliability of standardized testing’s results.

Currently, one of the largest debates in education is centered around the place for standardized testing and its implications on the establishment of new common core in primary and secondary education. The goal behind these educational debates is to prepare students passing through the system for college.

Ken Robinson, one of the most outspoken advocates for educational reform, points to an outdated educational system as an impetus for many students’ failure. He argues that a system that stifles individuality and divergent thinking through testing, will, in the long run, hurt students when they inevitably have to enter the rapidly changing and uncertain economy that values individualistic thinking and approaches above all else.

I work in the Admissions office and I have face to face contact with many high school students considering a college education here at La Salle. Their preparedness varies by individual, but almost every student expresses frustration and exhaustion with the college application process. In some cases, it seems that students spend more time perfecting their applications for college than perfecting the skills that will enable them to find success in the college level and beyond. But, is that the fault of the students or a system that promotes high test scores without much regard for high skill level- superficial preparedness?

Students embarrass University at Happy Fortune (August 28, 2014 issue)

By John Schatz
Collegian Editor

The behavior of La Salle University students at Happy Fortune, a Chinese restaurant located at the intersection of Olney and Elkins, is frankly reprehensible. Students exhibit racist and sexist behavior in the restaurant, both to the workers and fellow patrons.

Upon placing my order one evening, a student celebrating his twenty-first birthday walked up to a young woman placing her order and began to harass her. He seemed to think that his inappropriate behavior could be explained by repeatedly slurring that it was his birthday. A police officer walked into the restaurant, looking to place an order, and was insulted repeatedly behind his back by the drunken La Salle students.

A few moments later, another male student walked into the restaurant with an adult toy and began waving it around in the faces of other patrons. Students and non-students alike had the sex toy waved in their faces. The student and his all-male posse were clearly intoxicated and belligerent.

They seemed to think that the order number a customer receives upon placing an order needs to have a perfect correlation with when the preparation of the food is completed, not just started.

Due to this inability of the group to understand how order numbers work, the young men began crowding around the order window and berating the female woman taking the orders. It got to the point that the woman seemed afraid to leave from behind her window. When she went to check on the food in the kitchen, one of them placed the adult toy on the ordering counter and took a picture of it. The level of disrespect was something I had never seen at Happy Fortune before, not to say that I have not seen lesser acts of insolence.

Being drunk is not an excuse to treat a person of another gender or race as a lesser being. There is never an excuse for such behavior. It is not funny or impressive to act so belligerently in a restaurant that an employee is afraid to remove the window separating her from the customers. There is a culture pervading part of our student body, however, that acting this way is humorous and should be encouraged.

Racist and sexist behavior does not take place at Explorers Den. I suspect that the lack of this behavior can be explained by the presence of visible male workers at the restaurant. The bravado displayed at Happy Fortune is likely due to intoxicated students feeling the need to impress one another and a small, female worker is an easy victim for these students.

There is not much that the administration can do to solve this problem. A lot of the behavior occurs on locations that are off-campus and occurs late at night. The solution, if this type of behavior ever stops at Happy Fortune, is going to be enacted by the patrons of the restaurant, both the students and non-students.

Stop laughing at the rude jokes that diminish others’ humanity. Stop encouraging the bullying and harassment of people who actually make our lives easier. I would implore students to think about how they are representing their university, but the ones acting as described hardly seem to care about how they are representing themselves.

Part of country misplaces empathy in tragic shooting of young Ferguson man (August 28, 2014 issue)

By Paul Prendergast
Collegian Editor

Over the past few weeks, the news has been dominated with constant updates and revisions of details surrounding the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown and the days that followed in Ferguson, MO. Details of the events leading up to the shooting of Brown are still disputed by the two sides involved.

St. Louis County Police Chief Joe Belmar has claimed Brown assaulted the suspected officer, Darren Wilson, and Brown was shot during a struggle after reaching for the officer’s gun.

Dorian Johnson, who has come forward as an eyewitness, claims he was walking with Brown when Wilson shot him. He asserts Brown had his hands in the air, unarmed, when he was shot. The St. Louis county police chief supported the claim Brown was unarmed.

Amidst all of the uncertainty surrounding the situation, the two parties, Brown’s family and Darren Wilson, have started to prepare for a potential trial. In preparation for a trial, some people have started donating to Wilson, to cover legal fees. Wilson has received more money in donations in the aftermath of Brown’s death than Brown’s family has received toward its Michael Brown Memorial Fund, which was set up to “assist his family with costs that they will acquire as they seek justice on Michael’s behalf.”

At a demonstration supporting Wilson, one woman said, “We share the united belief that Officer Wilson’s actions on August 9 were warranted and justified and he has our unwavering support.”

However, to some degree it appears Wilson’s actions were not justified. While details of the events leading to Brown’s death are disputed, both sides agree Brown was unarmed.

A private autopsy found Brown was shot at least six times, including four in the right arm and twice in the head.

Even if Brown had assaulted Wilson, surely six bullets were not required to end the struggle. The amount of bullets fired at Brown seems to indicate an extreme reaction. If there was a struggle between the two, a more tempered response by law enforcement is necessary.

An unarmed teenager should not be slain due to an unrestrained officer mishandling the situation.

In addition, on the day the St. Louis police announced Wilson as a suspect, they also released footage and documents to reporters that named Brown as a suspect in a convenience store robbery, appearing to paint the murdered teen as a criminal. However, Brown had no criminal background prior to his connection to the unarmed convenience store robbery the day of his death.

Police Chief Thomas Jackson also stated that Wilson was not aware that Brown was a suspect in the robbery; rather he stopped him for walking in the middle of the street. Attempting to paint a man murdered due to the negligent actions of one of their officers is absolutely irresponsible. The police are established to protect and serve their community, not blindly protect one of their own after he recklessly fired upon an unarmed citizen.

Furthermore, the events in Ferguson have brought to light the stark differences between the portion of the population that is black, and their representation in the police force.

Also, blacks are disproportionately stopped by the primarily white police force. With these concerns in mind, it is not totally unfounded to question the actions of Wilson.

The fact that Wilson has witnessed such support following his possible culpability in a murder is outrageous. At best, these supporters can claim to be supporting his right to a trial and America’s founding principle of being innocent until proven guilty.

They may also have blind faith in their police force, which may need to be questioned as the police have frequently displayed military weaponry in handling the protestors in Ferguson, firing tear gas into crowds of people upon several occasions.

At worst, these supporters may be racists, assuming Brown was a criminal, deserving of what came his way, simply because he was a black man connected to a minor convenience store robbery.
Wilson has received support from some branches of the Ku Klux Klan, but has not commented on receiving their support.

Colbert’s Late Night move: Guaranteed success or generic boredom? (April 17, 2014 issue)

By John Schatz
Collegian Editor

Late night television took a huge hit when it was announced that Stephen Colbert would be taking over for David Letterman on Late Show. Of course, he will not be doing the show in character, which makes the change even more painful. One of the biggest reasons I love Colbert so much is his dedication to portraying the simple, conservative character he has created, even while testifying in front of Congress.

Colbert is one of two political satirists with a mock news show, the other being Jon Stewart of The Daily Show. In a society in which youth are becoming less engaged in national and foreign politics and more involved in local communities, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are platforms to make current events, even Congress voting on a certain bill, entertaining to watch. His show provides a great service. There have been multiple occasions where I learned about a news story for the first time from his show, and I actively follow the news.

Leaving to host Late Show will assuredly pay off for him. He is a nice person and deserves to be sitting where Letterman is, but there is a danger in accepting the gig. It is generic. Ever since Johnny Carson, every late night talk show has had the same format. The host performs a monologue, performs some weekly segment or skit, interviews a celebrity or two and introduces a musical guest. I love these types of shows, but Colbert has been shown to thrive when given the opportunity to be creative, and the format of typical late night talk shows like Late Show might hurt him.

The new host of Late Show could very well be a mismatch. What Colbert has done on The Colbert Report is consider and take a stance on real issues. Shows like Late Night and Late Show are aimed at the lowest common denominator. Fallon was born to appeal to the lowest common denominator. I love Fallon, but it is in his nature to pander to his audience and guests. Colbert doing so seems wasteful of his talent and every time I happen to turn on Late Show in 2015, I am going to think of all the hilarious bits that never came to exist on The Colbert Report.

I am not optimistic about Colbert’s future on Late Show. He will be a huge success, I have no doubt, but I am not expecting it to be anywhere near as enjoyable as The Colbert Report. If anybody could change my mind, though, it would be Colbert with his vast experience in improv. He deserves to be on network prime time and I hope he proves me wrong.

The more I think about the transition and the end of The Colbert Report, the clearer it becomes that the real loss is never seeing the conclusion of the ever popular segment, “Better Know a District.”

Flyers-Rangers rivalry needs this postseason series (April 17, 2014 issue)

By David Cattai
Collegian Staff

The 2014 NHL Playoffs begin this week, and it is set to be one of the biggest playoffs of all-time. Both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference are full of historic rivalries. Hate is a strong word, but this year’s playoffs will be full of just that, hatred.

One major rivalry that sticks out is the series between the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers.

Both teams finished the season neck and neck with the Rangers finishing two points ahead of the Flyers, clinching home ice advantage for the first round. This tainted rivalry needed some reviving and I can guarantee this playoff series will rekindle that historic match up.

The Rangers and Flyers are both considered among two of the most respected veteran franchises in the NHL.

The Rangers were part of the league’s “Original Six”, while the Flyers were in the league’s first expansion. The hatred between these two clubs has existed since the Broad Street Bullies era, which is a common starting point on the timeline of the Orange and Black.

But this hatred goes much further than on the ice. The hatred is territorial.

To make it plain and simple New York hates Philadelphia, and Philadelphia hates New York. That is how it has always been, and probably always will be. No matter what the venue, fans from both cities get a little more juiced up when the two great cities clash in the battle of sport.

Unfortunately, fans across the region have recently been missing out on this great rivalry. The Flyers and Rangers haven’t faced one another in the postseason since the 1997 playoffs. That doesn’t sound that long ago, but take a moment to think about what you were doing in 1997. Let’s put things into perspective: the famously hilarious South Park began broadcasting that summer. The movie Anaconda hit theaters that April.

Yes, it’s been that long. From just a few years ago at the Winter Classic to the regular season this year, these teams simply don’t like each other. The Flyers-Rangers rivalry is not as strong as the current Philadelphia and Pittsburgh war, but it certainly could be.

Through the completion of the 2013-2014 campaign, the teams have split the season series, with both teams winning on home ice. In fact, the Flyers have lost the previous eight games at Madison Square Garden. Sure, you can hide under the covers because the Rangers have home ice advantage, but remember the playoffs are an entirely different animal.

The quest for the Stanley Cup is the most challenging in all of sports. Four rounds, best of seven series, continuous overtimes, bigger hits, better saves, louder stadiums and a much faster paced. Those are just a few descriptors for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

This series will undoubtedly be exciting for both the fans and the players. These teams are historic, and the rivalry is pure, but this series is what it needed. These two clubs needed to play each other in the postseason, because after all, that’s where rivalries truly begin.

The word “hate” is defined as “intense or passionate dislike.” Take a moment to process that definition.

Now in three or four words explain the NHL Playoffs. Is hate one of them? Again, hate is a strong word, but it is the word that gets you through the rivals; through the battles; and hate is what gets you to the promise land. Especially when the hate comes from the heart.

A need for government of the people, for the people, by the people (April 17, 2014 issue)

By Steve Graham and Gavin Lichtenstein
Collegian Staff

Every four years, candidates for the presidency campaign on platforms in which they believe people of the United States will support and believe in. We would like to suggest a vote on current government policy that directly affects the people. These polls will be voting on policies that affect the people in the lower, middle and upper class.

Policies such as same sex marriage, healthcare, gun control, minimum wage, women’s equality, education and government spending will be taken into account. Policies such as same sex marriage and education will be assets at a state level while other policies will be viewed at a national standpoint. This policy allows citizens to express their first amendment right while having a direct contribution to policies and Washington politics.

The polls we are suggesting will hold a policy poll every two years regardless of electoral year. Polls will be held at the local, state and national level to gauge the nations views and opinions on policies. The polls will be used for current issues as well as future issues to measure opinions of the nation and state as a whole.

Currently politicians design their political agenda’s on policies that they assume the American people want and support. The polling system will provide politicians with direct insight into what Americans want and support. The questions will be organized in approve/disapprove format for example, do you approve or disapprove of raising the United States minimum wage to $10.10/hour. A local poll would consist of questions such as local school district, textbooks, curriculum and security.

State polls would include issues through the elected governors office of taxes, education and equality. National polls would consist of gun rights, equality, the economy, immigration and healthcare. All of these issues have a direct impact on the American people and the status of the United States. The polls are not including foreign affairs and topics of war, only topics that directly affect the American people.

One of the main reasons the modern generation does not express their voting rights is because they feel they do not have an influence on Washington and the political agenda. The polling system we are proposing would enhance voter turnout and help build a connection between politicians and the working people of America. This poll allows politicians to build and create their campaigns on what is truly important to the American people. The modern generation feels silenced through the over barring echoes of Washington. This poll allows voices to be heard from east to west, upper class to lower class and every race, creed and nationality in-between. If we are a nation of the people, by the people and for the people, the people of the United Stated should have a direct influence on the agenda’s and policies our elected officials vote on and create.

NCAA alters student athlete meal allowances after Napier comment (April 17, 2014 issue)

By Matt Howell
Collegian Editor

As some of you may know, I recently wrote an article discussing how the NCAA is failing to adequately compensate its “student-athletes” and Northwestern’s football players are performing a valiant duty in attempting to unionize. In the last couple of weeks, the NCAA has gone on the defensive with a variety of talking points, but have also responded in a different manner.

After winning the Division I Basketball Championship with the University of Connecticut, senior star guard Shabazz Napier commented that he often went to bed hungry and did not have enough to eat. This has been a statement made by a number of athletes and while for many of us it may seem that these athletes are griping despite having three meals, there is a substantial claim here. Often athletes practice and travel at strange times, and because of that are not always able to go to the dining halls at available hours and are forced to find other means of eating.

The NCAA attempted to address this issue this week by instituting a new rule that colleges and universities must supply athletes with unlimited meal plans and snacks. Now, it remains to be seen if this rule will genuinely solve the problem, or will only result in small amounts of food being given to athletes after late night practices. However, I would like to take note that the NCAA is at least noticing some issues and taking them into account. While this type of story will not grab headlines across the United States amidst Northwestern continuing to unionize and student-athletes continuing to make millions of dollars for some schools, it does address a substantial issue for a great majority of the student-athletes. The NCAA is an organization severely lacking in adapting to the times, but it is good to see it making at least a small step forward for the student-athletes it claims to always be looking out for.

Government, rancher battle in Nevada (April 17, 2014 issue)

By Patrick Moyer
Collegian Staff

Last week, a decade-long dispute between a Nevada rancher and the federal government devolved into a tense, controversial standoff. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) began rounding up hundreds of cattle belonging to a rancher named Cliven Bundy. The BLM said that the cattle have been grazing illegally on federal land for years, and that they wanted to put a definitive end to it. Bundy, on the other hand, asserted that the land belonged to the state of Nevada, and that the Federal government had no jurisdiction over it. He also said that he would wage a “range war” against any federal agents that moved in on his property.

Supporters of Bundy, including armed militia groups, flocked to his ranch to protest the government’s action. On Saturday, the BLM removed its agents from the area and returned Bundy’s cattle, saying that the standoff raised “serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public.”

Bundy and his supporters see the retreat as a major victory for states’ rights and rugged individualism. But it’s really a major loss for those that have obeyed long-standing laws. It gives a dangerous amount of legitimacy to the sovereign citizen movement, whose followers believe that they don’t have to pay taxes and fees levied by the government.

Bundy’s assertion that the land around his ranch belongs to Nevada is simply untrue. The land has been owned by the federal government since 1864, when Nevada became the nation’s 36th state. Nevada’s state constitution indicates that, once it became a state, it forfeited all “unappropriated public lands” to the U.S. government. Bundy claims that his family has let cattle roam freely on the land since the 1880s, but, in reality, they never had the legal right to do that.

Federal officials didn’t try to challenge the Bundy family until 1993, when the BLM began conservation efforts to protect the desert tortoise, a species that is in danger of extinction. In order to ensure that the tortoises were protected, the BLM ordered local ranchers to remove their cattle from the federal lands. Most ranchers complied, but Cliven Bundy didn’t. Guided by willful ignorance, Bundy refused to remove the cattle and began to accrue a hefty amount of federal grazing fees.

It is estimated that Bundy currently owes the government over $1 million in grazing fees dating back to the mid-1990s. In 1998, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Bundy to remove his cattle and pay his grazing fees, but he has yet to do so. Instead of accepting the numerous legal rulings against his position, Bundy has deftly turned his gross financial delinquency into a hot button controversy. Thanks in large part to right wing sensationalists on the internet and radio, many people believe that the BLM is trying to carry out an unconstitutional land grab. But it is Bundy who is behaving unconstitutionally.

The BLM’s retreat from Bundy’s ranch looks like a sign of weakness, but there is understandable logic behind the move. If the agents had exchanged gunfire with Bundy and his supporters, it could have turned into a tragic situation very similar to the Waco siege in 1993.

The government has vowed to renew its efforts to get Bundy to pay his fees through the court system. This is the safest and most pragmatic way to handle the dilemma.

It’s a shame that a small group of abrasive political radicals have empowered Bundy to do as he pleases, but they’ll have to end their pseudo-patriotic masquerade at some point. If other ranchers can abide by the law, so can Bundy. There is absolutely no legal rationale for his behavior.

Video provides much-needed message about charity (April 10, 2014 issue)

By John Schatz
Collegian Editor

A few days ago, my roommate showed me a video in which a man wore a sign that read, “F**k the Poor” for roughly half a minute. I was confused and angry at the man, as were several individuals passing him in the video. Indignant reactions are featured more than the man himself. All of a sudden, the video goes black and the words, “We know you care” appear. The man reappears, only this time he is wearing a sign that reads, “Help the Poor.” The remainder of the video shows people passing by the man, who is begging for donations, before fading out to black again and urging viewers with the text to “Please care enough to give.”

At first, the campaign struck me as useless. Some random non-profit made a video portraying society as self-absorbed and themselves as great saviors. The whole thing seemed very self-righteous and frustrated me. After sleeping on my thoughts, the next day the video kept popping up in my mind. I saw it in a new light and realized how incredibly thought-provoking it is.

When the man was pleading with people to help the poor, nobody gave him a second thought. There was a conscious decision to avoid making eye contact by some of the individuals. Others were annoyed by the man, and the looks on their faces seemed to indicate they were thinking, “F**k the Poor.” Capturing this sentiment is exactly what the organization wanted to do by creating the video.

Look at the issue in another light. Imagine the man was standing there with a sign that read “Help Pay My School Debt” instead of “Help the Poor.” I imagine he would have similar success with getting donations. It speaks volumes about issues other than poverty and shows how people are less likely to confront issues that do not have a direct impact on their lives. So many instances of social injustice are paid no mind because the powerful and influential are not the victims of the injustice.

Admittedly, the organization that filmed the video, the Pilion Trust, Ltd., are based in the United Kingdom and the campaign is based around poverty, not education. However, the issue of poverty and other injustices have no bounds. Its existence in any part of the world is a problem that needs to be addressed.

Even at La Salle, an institution rooted in faith, service and community, I have seen students balk at the opportunity to help feed the poor by buying cookies in the Union. As a whole, those unaffected by poverty turn a blind eye to the issue that, in the United States, nearly 50 million people live under the poverty line. The fact that, worldwide, three billion people live on less than $2.50 a day, one billion of which are children and 1.3 billion of that three billion live on less than $1.25 a day is not a priority in their lives, even when a chance to make the issue a little bit less critical is staring them in the face.

Clearly, there are those in the Lasallian, national and international communities are doing their part in order to address the issue of poverty, but the video is not addressed to them. They do not need to be urged to care enough to give when an opportunity presents itself. Donations are pouring in to the Pilion Trust, which indicates that the people who do not need the message are going above and beyond in an effort to support the campaign.

The chief executive of the Pilion Trust, Savvas Panas, stated, “We understand that some may be shocked by this footage. We are more offended however, that people across the United Kingdom are living in adverse poverty.” If the video causes the absurdity of the sentiment to “f**k the poor,” to stick in the minds of those who watch it, like it has done to me, then the shocking nature of it is well worth the backlash.

Supreme Court equates money with speech (April 10, 2014 issue)

By Patrick Moyer
Collegian Staff

Money has had a long and impactful effect on American elections. Fundraisers, merchandising and advertising have always played instrumental roles in sustaining and expanding political campaigns. However, in just the last few years, expenditures on elections have skyrocketed. The 2012 presidential campaign between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama cost a total of $2 billion. By contrast, the 1992 Presidential campaign between Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and Ross Perot only cost about $300 million. This dramatic spike in campaign spending can mainly be attributed to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, which stated that the government can’t restrict corporate spending on elections. And just last week, the Court handed down another decision that will undoubtedly bolster money’s role in campaigns even further.

Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court made a ruling in the McCutcheon v. FEC case. McCutcheon v. FEC dealt with restrictions on the amount of money that individual donors can give to political candidates and committees. In a 5-4 ruling, the court struck down a spending cap that prevented individuals from donating more than $123,000 to political candidates and parties over a two-year period. This means that wealthy donors will now be able to donate their money to a broader array of political candidates across the country. Base limits, which set specific restrictions on the amount of money that can be given to different political entities, were left in place. But it’s widely believed that the current Court will strike down base limits as well if the right case presents itself in the near future. Supporters of the decision, mainly conservatives, have praised it as a victory for the First Amendment. They believe that monetary spending is a free speech issue, and that many campaign finance laws infringe on their right to speech.

The “money is speech” argument is very dangerous. Money is not speech. Money is a form of capital with a finite supply. Speech, on the other hand, is the ability to express oneself freely in order to communicate some sort of message to others. Equating money to speech puts a price tag on a person’s ability to participate in the political process. And, since money is finite, equating it to speech puts a restrictive cap on the amount of “speaking” that poor and middle class voters can do. That principle ironically contradicts the very reasoning that conservatives espouse to support the “money is speech” argument.

In reality, the dismantling of campaign finance laws is not a valiant crusade to increase freedom of speech in America. It’s a concerted effort to obliterate the level financial playing field so that the wealthy can exert a controlling influence on the electoral cycle. The people that most benefit from Citizens United and McCutcheon are billionaire mega donors such as George Soros and Sheldon Adelson. Giving mega donors the ability to donate unlimited amounts of money to candidates for public office turns them into kingmakers. Primary elections could soon become a farcical process. Voters won’t get to decide which candidate is best suited for their party’s nomination, a handful of casino moguls and business magnates will make that call. All they’ll have to do is dilute the influence of other primary candidates by funneling tons of money to their “chosen one.”

The gradual and continual loosening of campaign finance laws will inevitably turn America into an oligarchy. Everyday citizens will still have the right to vote, but the candidates, messages and topics for discussion in campaigns will all be predetermined by those who “speak” with their checkbooks. People need to start speaking legitimately, with their voices and not their money, to halt the insanity before it’s too late. It may take a new Constitutional amendment to halt the corrosive effect that monetary “speech” has on the political process. But if that preserves the parity of free speech, it’s a worthwhile option to explore.

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