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Barbara's Bi-Weekly Column

The Patriot Ledger
Saturday, July 4, 1998

Getting away from it all in Canada and Hawaii
By Barbara Anderson

Chip Ford and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the Tax Equity Alliance of Massachusetts for our just-completed Hawaiian vacation.

Had they not spent an estimated million dollars of their members' money to kill our petition to roll back the income tax rate, we would have spent the last few weeks frenetically collecting the second round of signatures to place that initiative on the ballot.

Instead, we enjoyed the company of kindred spirits at the Taxpayer Association's International conference in Canada, then toured the Big Island and Oahu.

If one wanted to get away from it all -- the self-serving teachers union, the promise-breaking politicians, the indifferent voters, the Massachusetts monsoon -- then the first stop was the Rocky Mountain village of Whistler, British Columbia, where taxpayer groups from around the world assembled to share ideas, campaign stories and moral support.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation hosted a backyard cookout, where Chip and I caught up on economic news with Australian, German and Norwegian delegates. Swedish and Japanese activists posed for him with totem poles at a Vancouver park that is run by the city but overseen by private sector trustees so that politicians cannot exploit it. The French leader insisted that the Dutch delegate and I hike with him to see the giant pines on a mountain trail. There, deep in the northern forest, I began to feel escaped, although somewhat concerned about bears.

Conference speakers included the National Taxpayers Union's James Dale Davidson, Flat Tax creator Alvin Rabushka, author/historian Charles Adams, and the leader of the official opposition in the Canadian Parliament, Preston Manning. Chip and I served on panels with other longtime activists. We enjoyed listening to Canadians, whose country went farther down the road of tax and debt destruction than ours, tell us how they are beginning to recover from disastrous socialist policies and win balanced budget and tax-cut campaigns.

This encouraging news indicates that, indeed, things may have to get worse for taxpayers in Massachusetts and the United States before they get better, but that they will get better if we activists wait patiently, keep people informed and prepare for the inevitable turning of the tide.

While we're waiting, and since we were halfway there already, Chip and I decided to take advantage of off-season prices in Hawaii, whose tourist trade is suffering from the poor Japanese economy. Remembering our 1996 Ireland vacation as a blur of castles and green, he asked that we not try to visit every beach on every island in 12 days, so we rented a car on the Big Island and drove slowly around it, stopping where we wanted, staying when we liked.

Oh, we really did prefer to put that tax-rate rollback on the November ballot! But snorkeling in warm, blue-green water is nice, too. There are many colors of butterflyfish and wrasse, though none so bright as the intensely yellow tang; you can hear the parrotfish nibble on the reef and chase the striped humuhumunuku-nuku-a pua'a. Later, on the shore, hula dancers celebrate their history while visitors feast on luau pig and mahi-mahi; across the lava fields, steam rises where fire meets the sea.

At night, the stars fall down the outer slope of the volcano to the island's edge, until Moana Loa appears for a short while through the mist at dawn. Later, rain drops lightly, unfelt by travelers walking under the forest canopy, but seen later as waterfalls on the jungle trail.

During the months of petition drive and challenge, we ate fast food at our computers; now we had time to sit on a hotel patio dining on poi pancakes and papaya. Chip photographed each sunrise and read all of Michener's Hawaii; I read our tour books and listened to Hawaiian classics as we drove along the flower-drenched coast. The petition was lost but, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we realized it's not the end of the world.

Chip sent TEAM a funny postcard showing native Hawaiians sticking out their tongues in their traditional symbol of defiance. Had the teachers union challenge failed, we would have been petitioning through June, then dealing with another MTA signature challenge right into the exhausting fall campaign. Instead, we watched the illiterate Massachusetts teachers story on Hawaiian television news from our sunset-view lanai on Waikiki Beach. Wish everyone who signed the petition could have been there with us, laughing and toasting the inevitability of education vouchers with guava juice and Tsunami beer. Aloha.

Barbara Anderson is co-director of Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government. Her column appears bi-weekly and is syndicated by the Patriot Ledger News syndicate.

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