A Ballot Committee of Citizens for Limited Taxation

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.

January, 2000

Who's Sorry Now?
By Barbara Anderson

Not to be left out of the prevailing trend to substitute  regret for good behavior, I apologize to any reader I might  have inadvertently offended over the years. Of course, I'm not  apologizing to those I advertently offended unless it's in my  best interest to do so, and then I can easily apologize to anyone.

It doesn't cost anything to apologize, after all, especially for those of us who don't confuse practicality with pride. Am I genuinely repentant? Why not say so, and put it behind me. Am I indifferent? Why not shrug, say I'm sorry, and get it over with. Am I curious about how much I can get away with as long as I'm willing to act repentant when caught? Why not test this and see how far it goes.

And now, having shown my own willingness to admit I made a mistake whatever it is, to whoever thinks so I can take the moral high ground and require equally useless apologies from everyone who has offended me.

Yes, I demand an apology.

First of all, from my high school Civics teacher. What was all that stuff about the constitution, balance of power, "the way a bill becomes law" ,and public service. Good grief, didn't you or the textbook writer ever visit an actual government?

My first experience with government came when I packed up the baby and drove my husband to work so I could take the car to get my New Jersey drivers' license. I still want that Registry to apologize for being, for some reason, closed.

Things went downhill from there. Has Robert McNamara apologized yet for lying to us about Vietnam?

I'd like Congress to say it's sorry about the 5.6 trillion national debt.

Has any judge ever apologized for being soft on a drunk driver just before he killed someone?

Recent presidential campaign events have made me wonder: did Michael Dukakis ever apologize to that couple in Maryland who were terrorized by Willie Horton after the Duke let him out on furlough?

Lee Atwater apologized on his deathbed for using the Horton case in the Bush-Dukakis presidential campaign. Even though I think it was a valid expose, I suppose I should apologize for telling Al Gore's opposition researchers about Willie during the Democratic primary and getting him in trouble with Bill Bradley. Sorry, Al.

Massachusetts has apologized for the witch trials, though it has not yet said it's sorry about the Amiraults.

As a taxpayer, I demand an apology from the so-called Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF). In 1989, the House Ways and Means Committee cut the proposed Dukakis budget increase in half, citing a coming fiscal crisis. But MTF told the Senate Ways and Means Committee that the cuts were unnecessary because the economy was doing well. When the crisis arrived, we all got a major tax hike.

Is MTF sorry? No, it released a study last week warning that the state can't afford a major tax cut because it's spending too much. Get a clue, folks; the only way to stop politicians from overspending is to not give them the money in the first place.

I know that Milton Friedman sincerely regrets having come up with the concept of tax withholding. And Thomas Jefferson said he regretted not putting tax limitation into the federal constitution.

Bill Clinton apologized about the Monica thing. Jane Swift apologized about the babysitting thing. Rep. Ellen Story said she regrets her charge that Irish Catholics don't care about the mentally ill.

As long as we're on a roll, let's hear from Finneran and Birmingham about all the broken legislative promises: "temporary" tax hike; "temporary" turnpike tolls; "education reform". Maybe they could pledge to do better in the future.

To paraphrase Al Gore in "Love Story", good government means never having to say you're sorry. Sorry, Al.

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