April is the cruelest month
breeding taxes and debt out of the dying land,
mixing apathy and outrage,
stirring compliant voters to revolt.
— With apologies to T.S. Eliot
proud to be an American as the Navy SEALs took out the Somali
pirates, on Monday we turned our attention to the local pirates who
steal and misuse our money, hold our preferred services ransom for
higher taxes, and hope the taxpayers don't take careful aim with
their votes at the next election.
week at the Massachusetts Statehouse:
a decades-overdue vote on public employee pension reform.
Patrick complains that the Senate and especially the House, have
watered down his reform bill. During House debate, Republicans offer
several amendments to dehydrate the bill, but so far the only major
change that's passed prevents MBTA employees from collecting fat
pensions before the age of 55. The still-waterlogged bill is
engrossed by the House, 156-0.
Wednesday, the House version of the state budget is released in
preparation for debate next week.
Massachusetts is in the midst of one of its regularly-scheduled
fiscal crises, caused by overspending and excessive benefits for
politicians and their favored unions when tax revenues are strong,
and leading to fiscal crisis in economic downturns. Traditionally, a
majority of legislators take an initial stand against new taxes;
pass minor reforms; orchestrate visible, unpopular cuts; then
"reluctantly" raise taxes, which they falsely claim are temporary.
course, Wednesday was also Tax Day, the deadline for Americans to
mail their tax returns to the federal and state governments, paying
for their share not only of essential government services, but for
all the waste, mismanagement, patronage, porky earmarks,
non-existent oversight, and extraordinary benefits for the
privileged political class.
not so coincidentally on Wednesday, taxpayers meet across the nation
in grassroots-organized tea parties, to protest fiscal
irresponsibility in general — not just tax increases, but deficits,
bailouts, and waste, etc. (see previous paragraph).
preparation for this, the federal Department of Homeland Security
releases a report warning about "radicalized right wing extremists,"
a repetitive term that seems to include angry taxpayers,
disillusioned activists from both parties and veterans returning
from war. Some veterans' organizations object to the implication
that returning vets are crazy.
these dangerous taxpayers hold peaceful rallies across Massachusetts
too. Newly involved citizens mingled with longtime activists,
hopefully getting acquainted for useful action during the next
election. Because, wait for it, wait for it: Democrat Jay Kaufman,
House chairman of the Revenue Committee, has stated that without tax
increases, "we can probably measure the impact of this budget in
terms of lives lost."
liberal group that calls itself "OneMassachusetts"
has released a list of proposed tax hikes, from the gas tax and
local-option taxes that have already been filed by Governor Patrick,
to a 20-percent sales tax hike and an income-tax rate increase that
could raise as much as $1.5 million.
say OneMassachusetts wants not "one" but all of these, hence the
slogan seen on one sign at the Boston tea party, "More is Never
Enough (MINE)." And there was another, more funny than dangerous:
"Don't tax me, bro."
was National Tax Freedom Day, the day on which taxpayers have paid
all their federal, state and local taxes and can now work for
themselves and their families. But in Massachusetts, Tax Freedom Day
occurs on Thursday; ours is the seventh-latest state to free its
serfs for the year.
computation is done by the Washington-based
Foundation, which recently also released data on comparative tax
burdens. Massachusetts has the fifth-highest annual state-and-local
tax burden per capita ($5,377 in FY2008). On the measure of state
and local tax burden as a percentage of state income, we're in 23rd
place; an estimated 9.5 percent of our income goes to Beacon Hill
and our city or town hall.
Considering how they spend that 9.5 percent, this is nothing to feel
good about, even if you are among the wealthy citizens responsible
for the commonwealth's high personal income status.
Massachusetts also ranks seventh-worst in terms of the property tax
burden, and our gas tax is heading for highest in America if
Governor Patrick gets his 19-cent increase. The MBTA is cutting back
on service for its present customers, while still planning to extend
train lines, piling more debt on our highest-in-the-nation state
need more trains because the roads are crumbling and toll booths
can't be staffed on holidays because the Turnpike can't afford
overtime when employees don't show up for work, and ... forget it,
travelers, just stay home.
for Limited Taxation's Chip Faulkner attended three of the
Massachusetts tea parties, advocating "no re-election for tax
hikers." If the newly-attentive voters don't get the attention of
Beacon Hill soon, we can, to rephrase Kaufman, probably measure the
impact in terms of municipal bankruptcies.
talk-show host Michael Graham is planning a
campaign school for potential opponents of tax hikers. Ordinary
citizens are beginning to rally 'round the flag and family.
should always be the cruelest month for pirates and government
tyranny or foolishness.