The Salem News
---- — As a taxpayer activist, I hate to admit I look forward to April 15, but I do. Of course, I’m not spending the day working on my tax returns: I file as soon as I have all my documents. The state Department of Revenue responds quickly, so I applied my state refund to the amount I owed the federal government after being required to take my first IRA distribution. Please apply it to reducing the national debt, guys.
What I like is that mid-April comes with taxpayer-activist activity. The Washington-based Tax Foundation economists calculate Tax Freedom Day, so we learn how many days the taxpayers in our state work for the federal, state and local governments compared to other states.
Last year, Massachusetts taxpayers worked until April 25, the fourth-latest freedom date in America. This year, it’s estimated that we’ll work four days longer, until April 29. Must have been that Democrat tax hike last year, or some local property tax overrides and Community Preservation Act votes, or maybe the impact of federal tax policy on our relatively high-income state.
The Tax Foundation also computes the state and local per capita tax burden: the latest data, for fiscal year 2012, shows Massachusetts’ burden is the fifth-highest in the nation, $5,586 for every man, woman and child in the commonwealth, 32.4 percent above the national average. So, don’t let anyone tell you we don’t pay enough for essential services, if they were ever effectively provided by a well-managed state.
Monday, Massachusetts will recall its taxpayer-activist history on Patriots’ Day, and last Sunday, modern patriots kicked off the season with the annual Tax Day Tea Party rally on Boston Common. This year, I was asked by the Greater Boston Tea Party (GBTP) to be the keynote speaker.
It was a cold, damp day to start, which I think discouraged some participation, but the sun came out before I spoke, so it became a lovely afternoon to spend with old and new friends. The theme of the event was, “If you like your Freedom, you can keep your Freedom” (though you have to fight for it). Speakers included:
Jim Wallace, Gun Owners Action League, who so far has successfully defended our Second Amendment right to bear arms. This could explain why, although there were at least six unprovoked attacks on people last week by young thugs on the Common, no one came near a group that probably included a few armed patriots.
Terry Schilling of American Principles in Action, speaking on Common Core. This is a relatively new subject since someone got the bright idea to put the federal government in charge of K-12 education. Hey, it worked for health insurance! “If you like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance” (Obama and Tierney).
Steve Aylward, chairman of the ballot committee “Tank the Gas Tax,” which requires more signatures this spring.
Rep. Shaunna O’Connell, R-Taunton, also supporting that ballot question, as well as speaking about her big issue, EBT card reform, and the startling news from last week that the Massachusetts House won’t allow discussion of that subject during its coming budget debate.
Jessica Vaughan, from the Center for Immigration Reform, telling us that “if you like your borders, you should keep your borders,” and pointing out that Jeb Bush’s recent remark that illegal immigration is “an act of love” didn’t acknowledge the Americans who have lost loved ones to illegal drunken drivers.
Daniel Morris, campus coordinator for the Salem State University Students for Liberty, was my favorite speaker, as he told us about the young people who are spreading the cause of freedom not only here but around the world.
Catherine White, a fiery redhead constitutional scholar, gave a passionate speech titled “Constitution-Decoded.”
Todd Feinburg, radio talk show host and now “Drive Time Master,” preceded me. I figured my job as keynote speaker was to encourage those 100 or so people who showed up not to be discouraged because others did not. There’s so much going on, everywhere, with other rallies and marches and family weekend projects.
Further, in my political experience, only those who are both politically aware and unafraid of criticism can comfortably endure the kind of attack to which the Tea Party has been subject since its 2010 electoral success. Our strength is not in rallies, but in recognizing that there are enough voters who agree with us about the issues noted above, if we carefully identify them and reach out in various ways through this coming election cycle.
Russell Caswell, owner of a Tewksbury motel that the federal government had attempted to seize in an asset forfeiture case. A federal judge ruled that he was an “innocent owner” who did not know about the drug crimes taking place on his property and therefore should not have it confiscated by the government.
Dr. Ellen Kenner, Ph.D, is a licensed clinical psychologist and host of “The Rational Basis of Happiness” on radio stations coast to coast and online. I’ll find her show because I missed her remarks, was talking to a young man (age 24) who had just been passing by when he discovered us, a group of people who made sense to him. I referred him to the young Libertarians who had a table on the rally site.
Had to leave before hearing Patrick Humphries, GBTP president, tell about the successful policies of Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin (Tax Freedom Day, April 16), but I expect we’ll be hearing a lot about that governor this year.
We’ve been told by its opponents how terrible the Tea Party is. Do you see anything from Sunday’s rally that seems terrible to you? If you like your freedom, join us to help you keep your freedom; you’ll be welcome.
Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is president of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a Salem News columnist.