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Barbara's Bi-Weekly Column


The Patriot Ledger
Saturday, August 15, 1998

Clearing the clutter in home and mind
By Barbara Anderson


This month I had the yard sale I'd been planning since my son left home twelve years ago. With one of my five rooms converted to a home office, there was no longer space for the things he and I had outgrown.

The tarnished brass table was sold. His Doonesbury books and my automatic dog feeder are gone from my life forever.

I don't mind as long as they get a good home. One woman treasured a torn leather satchel; her doctor father had carried one like it. Little girls adopted tiny rag dolls from the "free to children" box. And a teenage boy who was delivering circulars stopped to admire the Van Gogh peach tree; in an unidentifiable accent he offered me $4.00 and walked off beaming with the print under his arm. People like this make my day.

My partner, however, gets his enjoyment from spotting and foiling life's con men. A dealer offered $15 for a $20 selection, then "discovered" he only had $13 and a hundred dollar bill with him. But Chip was prepared with change for a hundred, and got my price.

If I had it to do over, I wouldn't sell to "early birds" at my yard sale. It's not fair to people who considerately show up at the advertised times.

But the sale ended with me richer in money and lighter in goods, on my way to the simple, organized lifestyle so many of us are beginning to crave.

Now to get rid of the clutter in my mind. None of the following has been borrowed from George Carlin, since I would never read anything called "Brain Droppings." And even if I didn't read it, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

Instead, I'd recommend "The Perfect Storm," along with everyone else who's read this perfect book.

The first and last time I talked with Mike Barnicle was seventeen years ago. He called me to ask "how do you feel about the disabled veterans who are schoolteachers in the Boston schools and are losing their jobs because of Proposition  2 ?" I was young then and didn't immediately recognize a jerk when I heard one, so I politely told him about the disabled Boston veterans who were paying the highest property taxes in the world. He hung up on me but as far as I know, he never mentioned Prop 2 again.

I'd recommend Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan," which I was reluctant to see but it was Chip's turn to choose and he chose well. At the end, you find yourself asking two questions: am I a good person, worth the sacrifice they made?, and, why would the man who made this extraordinary film hang out with a national embarrassment like President Clinton?

Speaking of embarrassments, let's speak of those Massachusetts state reps who had no idea what was in the end-of-session bills they passed, including the assault on our constitutional right to bear arms. What they do care about is their constitutional right to an annual payraise, a proposal that they've placed on the November ballot.

Last month when Speaker Tom Finneran guest-hosted the David Brudnoy show, he did one hour on the stadium issue and one hour on Winston Churchhill. I think he sees himself as Massachusetts' version of the latter, standing alone and unappreciated. Somehow the image works better when the enemy isn't us voters and our alleged representatives.

If the Prime Speaker really is saving the taxpayers from Bob Kraft, why won't he let us keep the taxpayer dollars he's saved us instead of spending it on pork or stashing it away on "Bacon Hill" in his "slushy day fund"? Both these phrases, by the way, were given to me by state senate candidate Steve Pitney.

Some local Republican activists have begun referring to themselves as "the Republican wing of the Republican party."

If they had it to do over, would House Republicans give the Prime Speaker his almost absolute power? We didn't fully appreciate the opposition party until it was gone.

From now until the election, it won't matter that legislators don't read bills, since they won't even be there when laws are passed by the leadership in informal sessions. Those who have opponents will be full-time taxpayer-funded campaigners, which explains why more of them don't have opponents; their challengers must work for a living during the fall.

I'm not going to let my house accumulate clutter again. But my mind will continue collecting from the Bacon Hill con men, and sharing its collection with you.


Barbara Anderson is co-director of Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government. Her bi-weekly column appears in The Patriot Ledger and is syndicated.

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