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Barnes: Students should participate in politics

By Spencer Musick

The former Governor of Georgia, Roy Barnes, spoke at the Georgia Highlands Cartersville campus on the "Paradox of Affluence: Choices, Challenges, and Consequences" on Monday, April 14.

Barnes, who served as governor from 1999 to 2003, addressed a large group assembled in the student center of the Cartersville campus. Phi Theta Kappa sponsored Barnes' visit as the first in a series of speakers on the same topic.

Barnes began his speech by echoing the concerns of America's founding fathers with regard to affluence. "Ben Franklin in particular, believed that affluence could become such an issue that no amount of wealth should be allowed to be transferred from one generation to another," Barnes said.

Barnes warned the audience that the current prosperity Americans enjoy is increasingly being disproportionately paid for by the middle class. "Affluence comes with a price," he said, "and many times that burden is unfailingly placed on the shoulders of the average working American."

Scott Akemon, political science instructor and PTK adviser, said that he found Barnes' speech to be "enlightening and challenging."

"In particular, I felt that his message to the young people resonated strongly with his audience," Akemon said.

Barnes stated that much of the economic inequality that exists today is a result of apathy among the electorate, which translates to a lack of accountability for our elected officials.

Barnes challenged his young audience to pay attention to and get involved in politics. "Your generation has the task of rolling up its sleeves and solving the problems such as economic inequality and extreme poverty that cannot exist in a country that is to be truly free," he said.