Teens ask Linder about economy

DACULA - Taxes, banks and bailouts usually aren't on the radar for high school students.

But hundreds of government students worried about the economy questioned their congressman Friday.

U.S. Rep. John Linder, a Republican from Duluth told a crowd at Dacula High School's theater he disagreed with Congress and the president's plans to stimulate the economy.

He has voted against every stimulus and bailout plan that has been introduced.

"I believe markets are designed to reward good behavior and punish bad behavior," Linder said, adding that stimulus funds will just delay the failure of bad businesses. "We shouldn't put more taxpayer dollars into this. We should let the market work."

The applause was light at the end of the comment, as Linder faced as politically diverse a crowd at the school as he would on the campaign trail.

That was most evident when one student asked about the legalization of marijuana, drawing a smattering of responses from his peers, while others applauded when Linder said he thought the idea was "dumb."

But most of the kids focused on the economy, asking how Linder's FairTax proposal could boost business and spending and how the congressman felt about the AIG bonuses that have caused many to cry foul.

Linder said he thought the issue was "just a diversion," since the original bill allowed for bonuses.

"There's a lot more to be worried about than $165 million."

From foreign oil to the Iraq war and stem-cell research, the kids hit some of the most timely issues of the day and even brought out a few that impact them personally such as education and animal testing.

"If they paid attention, they learned a little bit about the economy and a little about politics, and that's what we are teaching them now," social studies teacher Dan Hawkins said. "I think the kids did real well. They asked a lot of interesting questions."