and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
November #2

Election results were disappointing
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, November 13, 2008

"You will not be saved by General Motors or the prefabricated house.
You will not be saved by dialectic materialism or the Lambeth Conference.
You will not be saved by Vitamin D or the expanding universe.
In fact, you will not be saved."

Stephen Vincent Benet

Though Benet has been dead since 1943, the references in his poem seemed relevant to me in 1980, when Citizens for Limited Taxation (CLT) was hoping to convince the Massachusetts High Technology Council (MHTC) to help fund its Proposition 2 ballot campaign.

Our proposed property tax limit was opposed by the public employee unions, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, and almost every politician in the state, so MHTC's president, Howard Foley, wondered if it had any chance of winning.

His concerns might have grown when I took over as CLT's executive director that summer: I wore pigtails and jeans to our first meeting. Howard was a former IBM executive who looked and dressed the part, but had little political experience.

It seemed unlikely that the two of us could lead a revolution to save the commonwealth from the Taxachusetts label, which was making it hard for MHTC to recruit technology talent to move here.

After I returned to my office, I sent him the above poem. He got the point (In the long run, so what? We exist to earn badges.) and raised enough money to make us competitive in the ballot campaign. We beat the same coalition that just defeated Question 1.

It could be argued that we had a more "reasonable' ballot question, which is true; but the "end of civilization" arguments against it were the same. Our approach and our few business allies did get us, along with television ads, editorial support from some of the commonwealth's newspapers. But the real difference that year was timing. At the end of the disastrous Carter presidency, we had Ronald Reagan at the top of the ballot.

So Massachusetts, in fact, was saved, for a few decades at least.

As for the western world, it also did well for a while. General Motors was one of the largest producers of cars, and more and more Americans owned homes, prefab and other kinds. Reagan ended the Cold War against dialectic materialism (the philosophical base of Marxism), and the Lambeth Conference encouraged birth control and ended segregation in Anglican churches. Sunbathing Caucasians got lots of Vitamin D, and the Hubble telescope was launched to study the expanding universe.

Then things started to fall apart. Today, the government is actually considering a bailout of General Motors, following the banking bailout caused by the housing bubble's collapse. People began to hide in fear from the cancer-causing sun, so Vitamin D deficiencies are making a comeback in the world of disease. The ongoing Lambeth Conference has failed to bring world peace.

And I never understood how the expanding universe was going to save us from anything, but the Hubble photos certainly give us humans a sense of perspective regarding our importance which should help us deal with both concerns about and unrealistic expectations regarding Barack Obama's presidency.

I agreed with those who say we should give him a chance, and not immediately attack the way Democrats did with both Reagan and George Bush, and Republicans did with Bill Clinton. But then I saw the proposal on Obama's official transition Web page to "require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school" and I imagined my grandchildren working on fraudulent voter registration with ACORN in four years to keep him in office!

Never mind, the word "require" was just removed from the official transition site, so Obama is now just "setting a goal" for mandatory volunteerism (sic).

Someone on his team must have realized that a vote against John McCain (and George Bush) wasn't a vote to create a communist youth corps so the drafting of our children must wait.

Some Obama opponents take comfort from knowing that the Democrats now have the whole enchilada and will be responsible for anything that goes wrong. Maybe, but I predict they'll be blaming Bush for at least two more years.

After the election, I started removing campaign bumper stickers from my car. But when I heard the "enemies of Sarah" still attacking her, I cut a McCain/Palin sticker in half and now have "Palin" on my bumper, just to annoy them.

The only election result that really bothers me is Question 3, which closes Massachusetts dog tracks. I can't remember any previous ballot campaign winning on lies.

I'm worried about the greyhounds, which could be moved to states that don't have Massachusetts' legal protections for their welfare.

As for state politics: Question 1 was the last chance for change here. Nothing to do but watch with interest, and try to be as annoying as possible.

You will not be saved by Deval's new ethics commission, or his "property tax relief."

You will not be saved by a two-party system, or another House leadership fight.

You will not be saved by initiative petitions, or public employee pension reforms.

In fact, you will not be saved.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson's
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.