and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
October #3

Some musings on taxes, peace prizes and health reform
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Saturday, October 17, 2009

"There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts."

-- From 'The Messiah's Handbook' in Richard Bach's "Illusions"

I recently had lunch with my old friend, Jack Flood, who as we discussed current events reminded me of his favorite saying, "It's only a movie."

That mantra got legislators like him and activists like me through the end of the Dukakis governorship, when Jack was chairman of the House Taxation Committee. He and other rebellious Democrats were on the Duke's enemies list along with Republicans and taxpayers in general who resisted the governor's demand for new taxes when he returned from his failed presidential campaign in late '88.

Dukakis called Flood a "gutless wonder" because he was more vocal than the others in his resistance. I remembered this recently when the former governor was on a short list of those who might be appointed to the so-called "Kennedy seat" in the U.S. Senate.

WTKK talk-show host Jim Braude told his audience what a nice guy Dukakis was, though he recalled the "one time he was rude." It was back when Jim was also a political activist, shortly after he defeated my side of the 1990 Question 3 campaign, which attempted to repeal the new taxes that Dukakis eventually got passed in '89 and '90.

Jim and I were attending a Dukakis news conference, and when the governor saw me, he said sarcastically, "Nice job on Question 3, Barbara."

I remember that, mostly because I wanted to respond, "Nice job on your presidential campaign, Gov, loved the tank." But I didn't because I always follow the press conference audience rules. I still regret my good behavior.

I also recall that House Speaker George Keverian, another Democrat, initially responded to Dukakis' call for new taxes with the statement that he'd support new taxes if Dukakis would resign. Ah, those were the good old days, when not everyone was obsessed with behaving well.

Anyhow, I was disappointed that Dukakis didn't get the appointment; we old-timers could have spent the next few months reminding everyone how he led us into a major fiscal crisis, similar to what we face today. According to a State House News Service report, the commonwealth presently has an "eroding tax base, which state revenue officials say could carve between $400 million and $600 million out of this year's expected collections." Well, legislators who ignored early signs of trouble and suggestions for reforms, don't panic: It's only a movie.

I don't know where Flood got his mantra; I just connected it with the passage from "Illusions" quoted above.

The Messiah, who has returned as an airplane mechanic, explains that life is only a movie, which we all create for ourselves, on our way to learning the lessons we need for future incarnations.

*     *     *

For those of us who need to learn to lighten up, my favorite new film is "Obama receives Nobel Peace Prize."

The president himself quickly recognized that he had to share most people's astonishment and express humility, which was obviously a necessary lesson for him. This saved us from an overdose of his enemies freaking out over this latest example of his own Messiah-hood.

I myself learned something as I Googled the list of previous recipients of the Peace Prize, and notwithstanding the recent choices of Yasser Arafat and Al Gore, found many valid entries (in my opinion) like Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Lech Walesa, Elie Wiesel, the Dalai Lama and the Red Cross.

Checked out my birth year, but quickly realized that of course there were no awards given while the Nazis occupied Norway. You'd expect that the Russian soldiers who liberated that country and the Americans who prevented the same Russians from overstaying their welcome, would eventually get a prize, along with Harry Truman for dropping the bomb that brought peace to Asia but no. Ronald Reagan didn't get an award for ending the Cold War, either.

However, George Marshall did get the Nobel Peace Prize, but not for being one of the American generals who defeated the Germans; he got it for authoring the Marshall Plan. Guess money is nicer than military might.

*     *     *

I've always found it odd that the former Vikings the Norwegians, Danes and Swedes became liberal peaceniks. Maybe they are atoning for all that pillaging in the Dark Ages. Or maybe the local gene pool changed when so many Vikings got killed in battle.

Well, I'm sure that more relatively peaceful Europeans needed the lessons they were taught by the Norsemen, because eventually these wiser people created the Renaissance.

Keeping all this learning in mind, I got through Congressman Tierney's town meeting on health insurance last Saturday, where we in the audience were told the same impossible combination of "facts" that the president keeps telling us: All of us can keep our present insurance if we like it; the new government involvement won't increase the national debt; there will be no rationing.

I can now see clearly that President Obama's election was necessary to wake up the American people and set them on the road to an American Political Renaissance: 2010.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
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.