Halloween. How I love flickering pumpkins, caramel
apples and neighborhood kids on the porch.
But when it comes to politics, it's time to turn off the porch lights.
I don't want to see the Con Man who was dressed last fall as "property
tax relief." I don't want to hear, as the Patrick administration is
saying, that we have another budget deficit for this coming year --
after being told that we had one for the past year, which, though the
governor didn't get his tax increases, somehow turned into a budget
And I don't want to see Democratic leaders in Washington trying to scare
me with President Bush's veto of the SCHIP (State Children's Health
Insurance Program). I'm more afraid of socialized medicine, into which
this proposed expansion of government health care is intended to ease
us. Parents who aren't poor shouldn't be getting a taxpayer subsidy from
me and others who take responsibility for paying our health insurance
Also scary are the voters who let these Democrats con them into thinking
that the president, Republican candidates and taxpayer activists want to
eliminate health care for poor children. Here is how the game is played,
during political party squabble time:
There's a program, like SCHIP, that works pretty well, supported by
almost everyone. This isn't fun for the Democrats who need something to
demagogue, so they deliberately expand it beyond affordable reason,
knowing that fiscally responsible Republicans will refuse to go along
and can then be accused of not caring if children die.
Do voters never get tired of politicians using "the children" in their
quest for power and more of our money? Apparently not, or Niki Tsongas
wouldn't be the new member of congress from the 5th District.
Speaking of the Democratic leadership, here's a fun "trick or treat"
story that you might have missed. It seems that ABC's "World News
Tonight" did a story on a man who claimed he saw atrocities as a soldier
in Iraq, even though he actually didn't get through boot camp and never
served at all. This came up on the Rush Limbaugh Show, and a caller made
reference to men who pretend to be soldiers to criticize the war; Rush
responded, "Yeah, the phony soldiers."
Once again the Democratic silly machine went into motion, attacking Rush
for denigrating our brave military. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of
Nevada and 40 other Democratic senators -- including Ted Kennedy and
Hillary Clinton -- signed a letter and sent it to the CEO of Limbaugh's
network, demanding Rush apologize. They picked on the wrong guy.
Instead of apologizing, Rush put the senators' "phony indignation"
letter on e-Bay, offering to match the highest bidder. The highest bid
was over two million dollars -- $2,100,100 to be exact. Rush sent
$4,200,200 to a favorite charity, the Marine Corps Law Enforcement
Foundation, which gives financial assistance to the children of fallen
Marines and federal law enforcement officers. Nice treat, fun trick --
and 41 U.S. senators dressed up for Halloween as red faces. Give them
each a Snicker bar.
After reading my recent column on police details, Frank Abram of Danvers
suggests that we should turn off the porch lights when detail policemen,
dressed up as "coffee-drinking blue traffic cones," show up with their
usual trick-or-treat demands to be given flagman jobs at police union
All the other states use civilian flagmen and women, or even portable
traffic lights. Yet whenever someone writes a column noting the savings
to taxpayers of abolishing this unique-to- Massachusetts practice,
someone inevitably writes a letter to the editor insisting, as Pauline
Collins did in The Salem News, that "the true fact of this subject is
that the taxpayers of Massachusetts do not pay for any of the private
details for the police departments. In fact, for every private job that
the police work, 10 percent of that money goes back to the city or town.
... None of this comes out of the taxpayers' pockets."
Ah, note the trick: The writer always uses the adjective "private."
Yes, there are private details for businesses, which must pay the cops
or they can't do their project. So first you have extortion, followed by
kickbacks to the communities that require the details. Why is this
Then you have the really "true fact" that there are also "public"
details for projects done by state government on state highways and by
communities on local roads; taxpayers do indeed pay for these "public"
details. The recently released Massachusetts Transportation Finance
Commission report recommends eliminating paid police details on the
state's road and bridge projects, estimating that the use of flagmen,
instead of police, to patrol public construction projects could save up
to $100 million.
Beacon Hill Institute [a PDF file]
estimates the statewide savings from eliminating paid police details for
city and town road projects could be another $20 million.
Public utilities also must pay details; and they pass their costs on to
the ratepayers. That would be the same people as the taxpayers. The
extorted businesses pass along their costs to us as well.
And so it goes, as the government-abuse goblins grab and grin.
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens
for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and
Eagle Tribune, and often in the Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, and
Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the
Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.