Limited Taxation
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Barbara's Column
November 2001 #4

Turkeys still inhabit the Statehouse,
but eagle soars in Afghanistan

by Barbara Anderson

The Salem Evening News
Friday, November 23, 2001

Someone suggested that I write a seasonal column identifying the "turkeys" in our political system. And I would, if it didn't seem unfair to the turkey.

Didn't Benjamin Franklin call it "a noble bird" and enter it in the national symbol contest? The eagle won instead and I'm sure that visually it's the better choice for the top of the flagpole, while the turkey is better shaped for a family meal. But when did the centerfold for Thanksgiving dinner become an object of derision?

I guess that, as birds go, it's not too bright; not like the crows that come when Chip calls them to our back yard for food scraps; or the parrot that talks, or the robin that knows when to tell us it's spring.

Still, I wouldn't want to compare it to, say, Senate President Tom Birmingham. I don't know of any turkey who would throw his hat in the gubernatorial ring, replace it with a helmet, then tell the media to record his bicycle tour of the state while the budget he was in charge of didn't get done. At least the turkey does his job: he eats, he gets plump, he roasts.

On the other hand, after the recent budget debacle, Birmingham is going to be "roasted" as he runs. You could say he'll be "squash"ed by the voters, so maybe there's something to this holiday meal comparison after all.

Some families serve "ham" on Christmas Eve. Enter Tom Finneran, who doesn't "mince" words as he touts his "fiscal prudence" for the cameras. Is this what fiscal prudence looks like: Waiting to finalize the budget until the middle of the fiscal year?

My family has pork on New Year's Day: Most politicians would line up to symbolize their share.

Gov. Jane Swift, who saved the income tax rollback with her threatened veto, is a "sweetie (potato) pie".

The Fourth of July features hot dogs, or as we call House members who follow their leader, "weenies", which are eaten with "beans", of which the liberals who rallied for higher taxes last week at the Statehouse are full. Did you follow that sentence?

If the turkey and the ham had rolled back the income tax rate during the years when the state was stuffed with surplus revenues, instead of spending it on pork, there wouldn't be any need to carve some parts of the state budget now. So stuff that in your bird, bean-eaters!

Moving on toward the positive, I want to give thanks to the legislators who did not vote to raise taxes, the government employees who have been doing their jobs instead of biking around the state during working hours, the media that has kept us informed about the failed budget process, and the acting governor who got the budget moving and also wanted to give us a sales tax holiday.

I intend to carry Thanksgiving Day forward, through the holiday season, into the rest of the year and the rest of my life. For I would be a "dodo-bird" indeed if I were not grateful for all my blessings, which include the right to make fun of politicians without being arrested. Not everyone is so lucky.

Indeed, all of us received a wonderful holiday gift from a federal government that has waged war well -- the sight of liberated Afghans. These long-suffering people can now enjoy the things we take for granted -- music, books, movies, the sun on their undraped, unbearded faces. I hope it works out for them, and that they keep enough freedom to make them eternally grateful to us.

There's nothing wrong with the turkey, but I'll bet Ben Franklin would agree: When that American eagle soars, the world looks up in awe.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem Evening News and the Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in other newspapers.

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