The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday December 5th

Coalition Questions\Federal Spending

Coalition Questions\Federal Spending

The Orange County Peace Coalition conducted its annual "Penny Poll" in front of the Franklin Street post office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Peace Coalition, which works to educate people about peace and justice issues, consists of 11 different organizations including UNC's Students United for a Responsible Global Environment.

The group set out six glass jars marked for education, environment, health care, housing, military and transportation. Another jar was marked "other," for administration, Congress, foreign affairs and the judiciary.

Passers-by were given 10 pennies and asked, "How would you like to spend your tax money?"

Participants placed pennies in the jars of their choice, indicating how they would spend tax dollars if they had the authority.

After "spending" their tax dollars, participants were shown how the federal government allocates spending.

Coalition member Margaret Misch said the goal of the Penny Poll is to educate the public. "People seem unaware of where their money goes," she said. "We feel there's excessive military spending at the expense of social causes nationally as well as internationally."

Many participants agreed that the government doesn't always fairly represent the American public.

"It seems like what everybody wants and what the government wants is different," said Mary Paden, 28, of Durham. "The government is allocating funds for the present rather than looking to the future."

Paden said she voted for concerns of the "future" such as health care, education and environment. She didn't put any money into the military, on which the Peace Coalition claims the government spends 22 percent of the tax money it collects.

Dave Walker, 20, of Carrboro, also said he thinks the government spends too much money on the military, citing paranoia as a reason for the excessive spending. "The U.S. is afraid of losing everything they have," he said. "But we should be more concerned with internal decay rather than external decay."

Walker said he put most of his money into education. "Once you have education, the other things will follow," he said.

"Being a teacher is one of the most important jobs in the country and it's also one of the most underpaid."

Jim Nee, who was in town from Boston to visit his girlfriend, said he had slightly different priorities. "I voted largely for military and transportation," he said. "In my area, all transportation goes towards mass transit."

But Conley Davis, 14, from Farmville, didn't hesitate to put more money into the education container. "I feel that education is important for me, for my children, and for my children's children."

The City Editor can be reached at citydesk@unc.edu.

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