CITIZENS   FOR  LIMITED  TAXATION
and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

CLT UPDATE
Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"Real heroes don't whine"


Real heroes don't have an obsessive need to remind you how heroic they are.

That simple reality seems to elude too many firefighters.

The Eagle-Tribune
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Real heroes don't whine about their jobs
By Taylor Armerding


Massachusetts is about the last place one would expect a tax revolt, but that's what's brewing in Beantown. The state board of elections recently certified that citizen activists have gathered the 125,000 signatures required to qualify an initiative for the November ballot to eliminate the state income tax....

The referendum may seem the longest of long shots in a state represented by some of Congress's biggest spenders. But the same initiative was on the ballot in 2002, and though the political establishment roared with laughter through Election Day, the measure got 45% of the vote. This time pro-tax forces such as the Massachusetts Teachers Association are planning to spend millions of dollars warning of Armageddon.

They have cause to be worried. A Fabrizio poll for Citizens for Limited Taxation discovered that the average Massachusetts voter believes that 41 cents of every state tax dollar are wasted. Coincidentally, that's the share of the state budget funded by the income tax. One big drain is a pension program that doles out billions each year to double-dipping pensioners and state workers retiring at taxpayer expense in their late 40s or 50s....

The forces of the tax-and-spend status quo will descend on this initiative like British troops after the original Boston tea party, but somebody has to make an effort to stop the relentless growth of government.

The Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Review & Outlook
Boston Tax Party


Barbara Anderson's CLT Commentary

Carla Howell is expected to be on CNN tonight (Aug 5) with Glenn Beck during his 7 pm show, again at 9 and midnight (always subject to changes), talking about the income tax repeal that was also noted in today's Wall Street Journal, Review & Outlook.

I expect to be on NewsNight tomorrow night (Aug 6) at 8, discussing Humor in Politics.

I can't yet capture my latest column from last week's Salem News, but it's just a "summer light" anyhow; I'm on vacation! Here's something better:  an excellent and courageous column by the Eagle Tribune's Taylor Armerding.

I began reading Taylor in NorthShore Sunday when I first moved to Massachusetts, picked up a lot of my own political philosophy from his writing. It's been such a thrill for me as a writer to be carried in the same newspaper group now. He's my columnist-hero and you can see why.

Barbara Anderson


The Eagle-Tribune
Sunday, August 3, 2008

Real heroes don't whine about their jobs
By Taylor Armerding

Real heroes don't have an obsessive need to remind you how heroic they are.

That simple reality seems to elude too many firefighters.

Let's say up-front even though it will be ignored by most of the angry brother/sisterhood who will take offense at these thoughts that there are indeed many heroic firefighters. They go to work, they do their jobs, and when the situation arises, they do put their lives on the line. It's just that they recognize that doing so is their job it's what they signed up for. They don't claim special hero status for doing it.

Meanwhile, how many times can you hear the same, hectoring refrain from their union leaders "We put our lives on the line for you every day of our lives" before it starts to sound exactly like what it is self-serving?

If modern firefighting was even half as dangerous as union leaders claim it is, communities would have to hire an entirely new force every five years or so, because so many would be wiped out each year.

But the reality is that when it comes to dangerous jobs, firefighters don't even make the top 10, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Who does? Loggers, fishermen (Are you taking note, Gloucester firefighters?), pilots and navigators, structural metal workers, drivers-sales workers, roofers, electric power installers, farm workers, construction laborers and truck drivers.

That, of course, doesn't mean there is no danger in firefighting. But on the rare occasions when firefighters are killed fighting a blaze, it is such an event that hundreds sometimes thousands of fellow firefighters come to the funeral. It is on front pages and leads TV news broadcasts. If this was happening every week, it wouldn't be big news, and it would be impossible for every department in the state to send contingents to the endless memorial services.

And if modern firefighting was really that dangerous, the line of applicants would be short very short. Instead, it figuratively stretches around the block. That's because the applicants know (and admit in private moments of candor) that a job on the fire department is a ticket to an unbelievable gravy train: Eternal job security, a better-than-average salary, excellent benefits, a work schedule others can only dream about (six days off out of every eight), early retirement and a lavish pension.

Oh yes, and it doesn't take much of an injury to get classified as permanently disabled, which yields an even better, tax-free pension.

Yet, with all that, most of what you hear from firefighter union leaders is how mistreated they are, how miserable their lot is, how nobody appreciates what they do, how mayors and boards of selectmen don't respect them even though they are "putting their lives on the line every day."

In Haverhill, the union is in full-time whine mode because Mayor James Fiorentini is allegedly being mean to them. You know, he won't roll over and sign whatever contract they put in front of him; he put out statistics on the use of sick time that show firefighters using more than other departments, even when long-term illnesses or injury are excluded; he's not happy with them using "union time" off for things that have little or nothing to do with union business.

The mayor broke a cardinal rule: Don't dare criticize firefighters. For anything. Don't you know they "put their lives ..." you get the idea.

This rule extends even to the most outrageous, egregious behavior. When firefighters are found guilty of misconduct, the unions don't condemn it. They condemn those who caught it. And they say it is grossly unfair to view all firefighters through the actions of a few miscreants.

That might make sense if they actually condemned the misconduct. But instead, they either remain silent or they defend it. Witness the lack of union outrage over the Boston firefighter out on permanent disability who was somehow able to take fourth place in a body-building competition.

If firefighters want to be treated like heroes, here's a few ways to start.

First, cool the outrageous contract demands. Have some sympathy for the people who pay the bill.

Second, show taxpayers some appreciation. The public already shows its appreciation for all its public safety workers in the millions they pay. Consider your work schedule, the time off, the amazing benefits, the artificial overtime rules, and on and on.

Third, if you've got a few bad apples, weed them out yourselves, instead of waiting for management to do it, or even impeding management's efforts to do it.

Fourth, stay in shape, and demand the same of everybody on the force. You're always talking about how physically demanding your job is. Why, then, are there so many overweight firefighters?

Do that, and you won't have to keep telling people that you're heroes. They'll tell you.

Taylor Armerding is associate editorial page editor of The Eagle-Tribune.


The Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Review & Outlook
Boston Tax Party

Massachusetts is about the last place one would expect a tax revolt, but that's what's brewing in Beantown. The state board of elections recently certified that citizen activists have gathered the 125,000 signatures required to qualify an initiative for the November ballot to eliminate the state income tax.

The Small Government Act would repeal the 5.3% income and wage tax, as well as the state capital gains tax, which reaches as high as 12%. The ballot initiative would replace the $12.5 billion in taxes with . . . nothing. "One of the points here," explains Carla Howell of the Committee for Small Government that is driving the referendum, "is to force the state legislators to start cutting the bloated state budget." The political shock of having no income tax would force the pols on Beacon Hill to make the difficult spending choices they now refuse to make.

The referendum may seem the longest of long shots in a state represented by some of Congress's biggest spenders. But the same initiative was on the ballot in 2002, and though the political establishment roared with laughter through Election Day, the measure got 45% of the vote. This time pro-tax forces such as the Massachusetts Teachers Association are planning to spend millions of dollars warning of Armageddon.

They have cause to be worried. A Fabrizio poll for Citizens for Limited Taxation discovered that the average Massachusetts voter believes that 41 cents of every state tax dollar are wasted. Coincidentally, that's the share of the state budget funded by the income tax. One big drain is a pension program that doles out billions each year to double-dipping pensioners and state workers retiring at taxpayer expense in their late 40s or 50s.

Nine U.S. states have no income tax, including such economic climbers as Florida, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas. These states are doing fine funding schools, hospitals and police without the income levy. Over the past decade 330,000 Massachusetts residents have packed U-Haul trailers and left -- more than have even fled Michigan -- and many have gone to no-income-tax New Hampshire.

"The idea here is to stop being on the defensive in fighting against big government and to start taking the political offensive," says Ms. Howell. She says the tax repeal would give every Massachusetts worker a 5% after-tax pay raise, or about $3,000 extra income per family. That's attractive when Census data show that, after inflation, state budgets nationwide are up 18% since 2005 while paychecks have remained flat.

The forces of the tax-and-spend status quo will descend on this initiative like British troops after the original Boston tea party, but somebody has to make an effort to stop the relentless growth of government.


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