after the election, autumn turned to fall.
golden-orange maple, glowing like a giant pumpkin through Halloween this
year, lost its leaves overnight. I enjoyed the color, and now appreciate
the unadorned shape of the tree.
So with the
phases of our political life: The spring of hope, when despite all
experience to the contrary, we think the next election will make
government work. The summer of effort to achieve real change. The autumn
of rich, dramatic campaigns; followed inevitably, in recent years, by
the winter of our discontent, as Steinbeck might say.
political winter will be a doozy, and perhaps endless, at least in
Why have I
been thinking about Timothy Leary? My partner
Chip Ford put his finger
on it: Ignoring the "turn on" with drugs part, we need to tune out, turn
off, and drop out.
the government they deserve," he said, "but I'm tired of getting the
same government the voting majority deserves. I want 'change'.
those years of ceaseless effort, it's time to run up the white flag and
climb aboard the gravy train, ride it as long and for as far as the
tracks stretching to the horizon. If that voting majority wants to
support tax-eaters, who am I to deny them their pleasure? I can collect
unemployment checks, subsidized health care, and whatever else
government will give me, while I work on writing a self-help book in my
new leisure time, 'How to Take Government for a Ride'."
words, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Not a bad idea, especially as I
see disgraced state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, who makes twice what I make
not counting her bribes, expecting me to pay for her lawyer.
I have a
head start on Chip, since I went on Medicare and started collecting
Social Security this year. I thought a vote to repeal the state income
tax would be a valuable reform message to send to Beacon Hill, but I
don't expect to be paying it anyhow and now I'll make a special effort.
Why work? I have no mortgage, no debt, a small house to heat, nothing I
really need to buy — and lots of non-political, inexpensive fun projects
to occupy my time.
attitude actually worked for a week or so. It was wonderfully relaxing
reading the newspapers, hearing the news, figuring there is nothing I
can do about it; then picking up James Michener's "Alaska" (in honor of
Sarah Palin). I put talk radio on for company, but with no inclination
interested to see that even though Question 1 did not pass, tolls are
going up and will probably be followed by the gas tax, then another
income-tax hike. Did I mention that I won't be paying the state income
tax? Or driving to Boston or using the Turnpike?
remaining concern, though: I do have to pay property taxes. Have to
acknowledge, in fairness to voters, that many voted to keep the income
tax out of fear of increased property taxes.
of the Beacon Hill
Institute noted after the election that "It was amusing to hear
opponents of Question 1 — particularly the teacher unions — express
their concern about local property taxes in Massachusetts. However, the
labor unions probably won't like to be reminded of their
newly-discovered dislike of property taxes the next time they push for
overrides at the local level."
we must start reminding them now. Back to work: Barbara and Chip filing
a bill to reflect the new agreement of senior citizens, public employee
unions, and the Boston business community that property taxes are the
worst tax of all! And we'll address the complaint that Prop. 2½
overrides create unpleasant rifts in the community.
the number of times a community has to deal with this disruption. We
propose allowing overrides only on a biennial election ballot instead of
anytime during any year.
some on this fall's local ballots. Of course, almost all of them lost.
But high turnout is a good thing, right?
flaw in my drop-out plan: Politics is fun. Win or lose, we taxpayer
activists are annoyingly pesky, which is our real job.
asked about TABOR, a constitutional Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Of course,
I'm happy to advise as a volunteer. Its Colorado creator, Doug Bruce, is
a friend of mine.
heard my name on WTKK; Jim Braude and Margery Eagan are discussing the
gas tax. I quickly call in to remind listeners that it was raised to pay
for infrastructure maintenance in 1989, so why are we now told that the
roads and bridges are crumbling?
And yes, Jon
Keller, I'd be happy to do your Sunday morning interview. One last trip
into Boston before the toll hikes! Let's talk about how voters elected
the status quo of corruption, scams and high taxes in The Bluest State.
I think it's
a good thing to take a hard look at the real shape of political reality
as the Massachusetts winter begins.