A Splendid Storehouse

A Splendid Storehouse

“A splendid storehouse of integrity and freedom
has been bequeathed to us by our forefathers.
In this day of confusion, of peril to liberty,
our high duty is to see that this storehouse
is not robbed of its contents.”

     

On a beautiful August day in 1949, former President Herbert Hoover celebrated his 75th birthday with an address at Stanford University.  Hoover was in the 1891 inaugural class of Stanford and claimed to be its very first student by virtue of the fact that he was the first student to sleep in a Stanford dormitory. Throughout his life he remained active with Stanford.  The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, a public policy think-tank dedicated to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and private enterprise is housed at Stanford.

Hoover’s 1949 birthday address at Stanford echoed many of the same concerns that sparked the Tea Party movement 60 years later.  Hoover told his audience that

“…They are a nuisance and require attention. We also have the doctrinaire socialists who peacefully dream of their Utopia.  But there is a considerable group of fuzzy-minded people who are engineering a compromise between free men and these European infections.  They fail to realize that our American system has grown away from the  systems of Europe for 250 years. They have the foolish notion that a collectivist economy can at the same time preserve personal liberty and constitutional government. That cannot be done.”

In the generations since Hoover spoke these words, we continue to be led by “fuzzy-minded people” who have conned the populace with collectivist programs that have failed many times over.  Each time, they ask for one more chance to get it right.

“In the end these solutions of national problems by spending are always the same – power, more power, more centralization in the hands of the state.

 Along this road of spending, the Government either takes over economic life, which is socialism, or dictates institutional and economic life, which is fascism.  We have not had a great socialization of property, but we are on the last miles to collectivism through governmental spending of the savings of the people. Think about it.”

Government over-spending and regulation started to escalate 100 years ago under Woodrow Wilson.  Hoover recognized the danger of this growth when it was in its infancy.  Since then, many have warned us of the danger and damage of this bloating.  The roots of American-style collectivism run deep and wide, but they cannot compete against what Hoover called  “a splendid storehouse of integrity and freedom”.  

In this day of confusion, of world peril to free men, our high duty is to see that this storehouse is not robbed of its contents. We dare not see the birthright of posterity to individual independence, initiative and freedom of choice bartered for a mess of collectivism.”

 Hoover encouraged his audience of 1949 to act.  “… thinking and debate on these questions must not be limited to legislative halls. We should debate them in every school. We should resort to the old cracker barrel debate in every corner grocery. In those places these phrases and slogans can be liquidated by common sense and intellectual integrity.”

100 years from now, this battle against collectivism will continue.  Patriots will look to our founders, to those who spoke out in the 20thcentury against this scourge, to the Tea Party Movement, to the many other individuals and groups who resisted the growth of government.  Keep up the debate so that these collectivist ideas can be “liquidated by common sense and intellectual integrity”.   In the end, there will never be time when we can say that we have “won”, but we can contain menaces that threaten our freedom.  It is up to all of us to protect the storehouse that is the birthright of our children and grandchildren.

What At First Was Plunder

What At First Was Plunder

 

What at first was plunder assumed the softer name of revenue. Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

 

In the Roman Republic, tax collection was done by private contractors called publicans. They bid on contracts to collect the taxes. The high bidder (i.e. the one who promised to collect the most taxes) was awarded the contract. If they collected anything above their bid, they got to keep it as profit. It was a system that was employed for centuries, but it was rife with corruption. Publicans often forced people to pay taxes above what they were legally required to pay. Under threat of violence, citizens paid the excess to the greedy publicans. It seems like many progressives in Massachusetts would gladly take the job of the Roman publican. They’ve come up with an ill-conceived scheme that exposes their greed.

Progressives in Massachusetts have proposed a 4% millionaires’ surtax that will appear as a ballot question in November. This is no ordinary ballot question though. It is a constitutional amendment. The Massachusetts State Constitution does not permit graduated income taxes, so supporters of the proposal had to craft an amendment.

In 2016, a billionaire hedge fund manager sent New Jersey’s budget into turmoil. How did one private citizen accomplish this? He moved to Florida. David Tepper was, until December of 2015, New Jersey’s wealthiest taxpayer. No one knows for sure whether Mr. Tepper was only seeking warmer weather, but we do know that New Jersey was soaking him for all it could get. Some estimates said that Mr. Tepper was paying as much as $300 million in income taxes to the State of New Jersey. The state has a graduated income tax that tops out at 8.97% for income over $500,000.

Massachusetts Proposition 80 has several serious flaws, beginning with the fact that many wealthy people already own homes in lower tax states and can often shift income from one state to another or, if necessary, shift their residency. The amendment requires that the taxes collected be spent on public education and transportation infrastructure. Apparently, the authors of this amendment have no idea how the Massachusetts Legislature works.  Tax dollars are fungible. Funds currently spent on education and infrastructure can be moved to other budget items, resulting in no increase in education and infrastructure spending.  The legislature can repurpose what they now spend on roads and education to other needs that they feel are more pressing like healthcare and courts. To believe that the Legislature will spend the new tax dollars as intended is naïve..

According to the Tax Foundation, the top 0.5% of taxpayers in Massachusetts accounted for 19% of income tax revenue in 2013. Just as with Mr. Tepper’s departure from New Jersey, the loss of just a few of these taxpayers will have a huge impact on state revenue. A report done for New Jersey found that the tax loss from losing a single $1 million taxpayer filing with single status is equal to 59 taxpayers earning $50,000.

Voters in Massachusetts have a long and proud history of rejecting tax increases via referendum. Six previous attempts for a graduated income tax have been defeated by the voters. We can’t depend on this history to defeat Proposition 80 though. So far, there is no organized committee against this question. Supporters have already raised almost $2,000,000. Three polls done by WBUR in 2017 found that Mass. voters support this tax by a 3 to 1 margin. There is a lot of work to do before November.

Last month, the Worcester Tea Party leafleted the Republican State Convention in Worcester to publicize Proposition 80. We need to keep spreading the word about this destructive amendment to the state constitution. We will be looking for you help as we continue to educate voters on this ill-conceived referendum question.

 

Youniversity

Youniversity

Hundreds of thousands of high school and college students are celebrating their commencements this June.  These academic achievements are sources of pride for parents, students, grandparents, and teachers.  Hats off to those who have made it through!  Now, you get to sit through a 90 minute speech telling you how to enter the real world.

In the minds of the grads, they’re probably thinking “I’m finally done!”, yet, ironically, the ceremony noting their accomplishment is called a “commencement”.  It’s derived from an Old French word, comencier, meaning “to start.”  It’s a cruel joke.  “What do you mean I’m starting? No! No! No!  I just finished.  I’m not starting!”

We older and wiser sages know that they really are just beginning.  They may get some direction from the education that they received, but life will deal them some zigs and zags that will send them to places they never planned on going.

Our national elections should be commencements.  They should be new beginnings.  We should have a chance to wipe the slate clean of the mistakes of the past, while being guided by what we’ve learned from making them.  It doesn’t seem to work that way though.  We make the same mistakes over and over.  We spend and borrow and hack away at our Constitution after every new election.

Those of us who have been advocating for the rebirth of liberty are repeatedly dismayed by each election.  We shouldn’t think of these as failures though.  Have faith in individuals, in millions of citizens who struggle to overcome the barriers set up by broken systems, broken institutions, and a broken government.  Most of these individuals attend “youniversity”.  They have everything that they need to graduate.  No one is going to hand them a certificate of completion, yet they go to “class” every day, supporting their families and their communities.

The next few months are going to be tumultuous.  Many will be dismayed by the choices that we are being offered.  In the end, it’s up to each of us as individuals to spit in the face of the broken systems that impede millions of Americans from achieving economic success and real freedom.  We do this by thriving.  Use the benefit of “youniversity.”  Learn, write, speak up, act up, and volunteer.  “You got everything you need to graduate with first class accomplishments put in you! YOU can do it!”

 

Moses-Our Original Founding Father

Moses-Our Original Founding Father

This year, the Jewish Passover falls at the end of April (4/20-4/30).  Passover traditionally begins with a Seder, a ritual meal full of symbolism and the retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. This is the story told in The Book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible (what many Christians refer to as the Old Testament).

mosesSince the original story of Exodus, the same story has been lived out many times, by many people, in many lands. People seeking freedom from tyranny have suffered hardship and death over and over again, even to this day. Just like the Israelites of 3,000 years ago, refugees from the war scarred 20th century sought liberation. Today, we see the suffering of Iraqis and Syrians fleeing ISIS and Assad. We see refugees from war and terrorism seeking a better future for their families. Three thousand years after Moses, the thirst for freedom and safety remains unquenched

Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams proposed that Moses be on the Seal of the United States.  They considered him to be our real Founding Father. A quote from Moses appears on the Liberty Bell. The Pilgrims considered their story to be similar to the story in Exodus. Harriet Tubman, who just this month was chosen to appear on the $20 bill, was called “The Moses of Her People”.

Many of the “plagues” of today are easy to show on the evening news. It’s very graphic and heart breaking to see women and children driven from their homes. There are other plagues which are not so easy to visualize. For these plagues, we don’t see blood being spilled or bombs dropping or children being beheaded. They are no less of a threat to freedom. These plagues are propagated in legislatures and voting booths; in campaign headquarters and courtrooms; in newsrooms and college lecture halls. These are the places from which come the threats to freedom in much of the world.

Perhaps we could wish for boils and frogs and locusts to descend on Washington, D.C. to convince our modern day tyrants to set us free, but I’m afraid that part of the Exodus story won’t be repeated. Moses isn’t coming to help us this time. There is no Moses running for President this year, although Bernie Sanders may have been around for the Exodus.

The Jewish tradition of retelling the story of their liberation from slavery gives them an opportunity to give thanks for their liberation and to remember their suffering. We all should remember the bitterness of oppression and seek to eliminate it. It may take another 3,000 years, but it is our responsibility to carry on the legacy of those who worked for liberty before us and for those who will follow us.

Jews conclude the Seder with a hope for their Messiah “L’shanah haba’ah b’Yerushalayim hab’nuyah!”- “Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem!” It’s in recognition of an imperfect world, but a world in which next year may bring them closer to spiritual perfection. We do live in an imperfect world, yet this is the best time in the history of mankind to be alive. With your help, I know that the future will be better and freer. We don’t need Moses to continue the struggle for freedom that has been fought through the millennia. That struggle has been left to us.

 

Central Truths

Central Truths

      “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”    Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Anyone that studies politics and history understands that mankind has fought culture wars since the dawn of civilization.  Culture wars are fierce contests of ideas.  Religion vs. secularism. Socialism vs. capitalism.  Democracy vs. tyranny.  Judicial activism vs. restraint.   There will be no end to the culture wars.  And this is how it should be.

In its most basic form, the culture war is a battle between those who seek to protect and retain what came before and those would discard it and force something that is promised to be better.  It’s not a battle solely for political power. It is a battle to control the direction of society.  Will society be allowed to adapt to new ideas on its own or will ideas be forced onto society for its own good.

Perhaps Emerson described this never ending war best in his 1841 lecture at the Masonic Temple in Boston:

“The two parties which divide the state, the party of Conservatism and that of Innovation, are very old, and have disputed the possession of the world ever since it was made. This quarrel is the subject of civil history. The conservative party established the reverend hierarchies and monarchies of the most ancient world. The battle of patrician and plebeian, of parent state and colony, of old usage and accommodation to new facts, of the rich and the poor, reappears in all countries and times. The war rages not only in battle-fields, in national councils, and ecclesiastical synods, but agitates every man’s bosom with opposing advantages every hour. On rolls the old world meantime, and now one, now the other gets the day, and still the fight renews itself as if for the first time, under new names and hot personalities.”

 20th century conservative political philosopher Russell Kirk explained it this way:

 “The conservative thinks of political policies as intended to preserve order, justice, and freedom. The ideologue, on the contrary, thinks of politics as a revolutionary instrument for transforming society and even transforming human nature. In his march toward Utopia, the ideologue is merciless.” 

So much of liberal ideology espouses ideas that are contrary to human nature.  Their economic proposals are based on emotions of envy that deny property rights.  They fail to recognize the inherent need for people to defend their own property and lives.  They try to silence differing ideas and crush religious freedom in the name of their own religion of secularism.

This battle between conservatives and progressives is healthy and necessary for our society to advance.  When one side gets an artificial advantage, and seeks to silence the other, much damage will ensue.  Today the forces flanking from the “left” have weapons forged in academia, in bureaucrats’ offices, and in courtrooms that have given them a huge advantage.  It’s created a dangerous imbalance.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan said correctly that “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society”, but 21st century politics is crushing the normal adaptive nature of culture.  Too many have fallen for demagogues who proclaim that politicians will determine the success of our society.

These are worrisome times in the culture war. It may seem that there is little room for our values.  History has taught us that new is not synonymous with better.  We can be secure in the knowledge that in the contest of ideas the truth shall be the ultimate victor.  That security does not allow us to passively standby.  It requires us to commit to the truth and join the contest.  Each of us has an important contribution to make in this contest.  Vote, Debate, and Participate, until we win!

 

Principles

Principles

“Independence is my happiness,
and I view things as they are,
without regard to place or person;
my country is the world,
and my religion is to do good.”

Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

 

When Thomas Paine wrote these words in 1791, he was writing in opposition to Edmund Burke’s defense of the aristocracy and the corrupt system that they had built for their own benefit.  In a previous 100 years, the taxes imposed by the English government had increased almost tenfold (from 1.8 million pounds to 17 million pounds). By comparison, the budget of the U.S. government has increased to 14 times the U.S. budget of 100 years ago (after adjusting for inflation).  Much like U.S. citizens of the 21st century, English citizens were oppressed by a government gone wild.  The aristocrats were shielded from the taxes and regulations that were causing much grief among the lower classes.

Paine pointed out how useless the aristocrats were:

“The aristocracy are not the farmers who work the land, and raise the produce, but are the mere consumers of the rent; and when compared with the active world are the drones, a seraglio of males, who neither collect the honey nor form the hive, but exist only for lazy enjoyment.”

 Paine believed that the national character of the English had changed over the previous century and that this was why they put up with the abuse:

“It would have been impossible to have dragooned the former English, into the excess of taxation that now exists; and when it is considered that the pay of the army, the navy, and of all the revenue officers, is the same now as it was about a hundred years ago, when the taxes were not above a tenth part of what they are at present, it appears impossible to account for the enormous increase and expenditure on any other ground, than extravagance, corruption, and intrigue.”
Like the English of the 18th century, has the national character of Americans changed such that we continue to believe the lies put forward by Progressives for the past 100 years? Dismally, it almost looks so.
Many freedom loving Americans are confounded by the 2016 Presidential campaign.  If the polls are to be believed, we are headed for one of most bizarre choices in the history of Presidential politics.  How did we get here?  It seems like far too many Americans have lost sight of some of the most fundamental aspects of liberty.  We are being driven by personalities and policies, but lack the rudder of principle.
Thomas Paine was a man of principle, who had suffered much by the end of his life because he refused to compromise those principles.
“To me, who have not only refused offers, because I thought them improper, but have declined rewards I might with reputation have accepted, it is no wonder that meanness and imposition appear disgustful.”   
Some of the choices offered to us for President this year seem to be lacking principle altogether.  Can we survive?  Yes!  What is important is that the citizenry adhere to principles based on limited government, a free market, and individual rights.  These are the principles that the Tea Party movement sprouted from.
Do not worship those who fail to acknowledge the most basic principles of liberty, of the free market, and of our natural rights.  What is the most important characteristic that you are looking for in our next President?  Is it only that they beat the other team?  Is it that they are the least offensive?  Or, is it that your choice has the resolve to defend liberty?
As an organization, the Worcester Tea Party does not endorse candidates, but we do ask that you consider their belief in our principles.  Are they for limited government, Constitutional rights, and a free market?  It’s a tall order, but you should not settle for less.
Banish the Darkness

Banish the Darkness

December is a month where much of humanity defies the frigid darkness by celebrating what may be our most joyous holiday.  Christians and non-Christians alike have taken to the spirit of Christmas to celebrate in their own ways.  Words of peace and joy and good cheer are shared with all.  This year though, we enter the season with a darkness spreading like the Shadow of Mordor across the free world.
Years of a foreign policy based on hubris and naive talk of containment have put the civilized world at risk in ways not seen since the Cold War.  This combination of neglect and malfeasance have given the enemies of modernity and freedom the time, money, and brazen confidence to wreak death and fear across the globe.  The world has realized that the once steady leadership of the United States is in shambles and they doubt our will and ability to confront evil.  This holiday season, instead of wishes of Peace on Earth, the talk is of war.

A greater danger comes not from the terrible but unlikely act of a terrorist, but from more certain threat of a government which would respond to every crisis by eroding our freedoms.  Those who are familiar with Robert Higgs’ book, Crisis and Leviathan, know that governments use fear and war to implement new laws and restrictions.

Often, the proposals are sold as only temporary, as the French are doing now with their three month state of emergency.  Personal computers in France are now subject to administrative searches without a warrant.  The internet is being censored.  Other searches are now done at the whim of the police.  If history is our guide, many of these policies will continue when the emergency ends.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Either we believe these words or we do not.  If we meekly retreat and hide, then these are not real principles, but just pretty words to be discarded out of convenience.  It would give the terrorists a veto on our rights.  Fear should never be a justification for the abandonment of our rights.

In times like this, we need our reason, and our principles, and our faith.  We need to prudently respond to security threats.  As we respond, we need to be cautious about overreacting and calls to hand over our rights in the name of security.  We must destroy evil with resolve, and we must also defend our liberty with that same resolve.

In this season nearly one third of the population of the Earth will celebrate the Light of a Savior.  In this season the Jewish faith celebrates the light of the Maccabees’ oil.  Many other faiths choose this time to celebrate the promise that the sun would bring warmth and light.  We must not let the shadow of terror eclipse this season of light and joy, and we should pray that our country finds the courage to allow our light to banish that darkness.
Earth Day for Conservatives

Earth Day for Conservatives

 

“Society…is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; 

a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection.

 As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, 

it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, 

but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.”

Edmund Burke, Reflections,

 

 

 

     Edmund Burke lived just prior to the start of the Industrial Revolution, but the words of the founder of conservatism remain as true as the day he wrote them.  Conservatives see themselves as part of nature.  We value the natural and man made treasures handed down by our ancestors.   We see ourselves as caretakers of the order of society and nature that have been carefully developed over time.  Included in this respect for the existing order is respect for the Earth.     Despite the common wisdom, there is no divergence between true environmentalism and classical conservatism.  The divergence is really between progressive environmentalism, which is really a disguise for Marxist economics, and real action to protect the environment.  So much of what we call environmentalism is really hatred for human advancement and an unthinking acceptance of nonsensical myth. 

     Today’s society has been fooled into accepting feel good-knee jerk efforts to “save the planet”.  Simple things like paper bags vs. plastic bags vs. reusable cloth bags go unquestioned.  The idea that not printing out an email will somehow save the planet is accepted as common sense, when it really has zero effect on the environment.  Recycling is accepted as good citizenship, without a thought to the wasted time, energy, and resources needed to reprocess our trash.  Renewable energy is given a pass for the multiple ways that it endangers the planet.  Electric cars (“coal burning cars”) give owners the sense that they have a pious superiority over the gun toting pick up truck driver.  It just isn’t politically correct to question the science behind the manufacturing process of green cars, solar panels, and windmills.

     Go through any northern liberal urban area and you will see how big government has scared our planet.  Trash filled wastelands, tarnished by unsightly public housing and government offices, weed filled highways and neglected infrastructure make huge areas of our country ugly and unnatural.    Look at almost any mega-environmental disaster, from the destruction of the Aral Sea by the Soviets, the Three Gorges Dam by the Chinese, the multitude of military wastelands generated by the U.S. government, the waste of water resources in the U.S. West, and we see that big government is the biggest threat to our planet. 

    The growth of capitalism,  social order brought about by unleashing individual liberty, and the squashing of monarchy, oligarchy, and despotism have allowed humankind to advance in ways never seen in the many thousands of years of organized society.  Fossil fuel freed us from the pollution of dung and wood fuel.  It gave us the ability to travel and relocate and communicate in ways that were unimagined 200 years ago.  Yes, we had a period of waste and uncaring pollution, but now, the free market is what is making our air and water cleaner.   Don’t let the progressives fool you into thinking otherwise.

     Conservatives should support thoughtful conservation of resources.  We are but caretakers of the planet.  The gift of wondrous natural beauty and treasure was passed onto us by those who came before.   We have a duty to leave our planet cleaner than we found it so that future generations can enjoy it.  As Edmund Burke said, “it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.”

December’s Great Debate

December’s Great Debate

Come join The Worcester Tea Party in welcoming Republican Candidate for Governor Mark Fisher, and United Independence Party Candidate for Governor Evan Falchuk to Worcester.

Mark and Evan will join us at The Canal Bar to discuss the future of grassroots campaigns in the Commonwealth and the role Tea Party organizers can play in the electoral process to create positive change.

Join like minded Patriots who share their love of Liberty.   Our guests will debate the hot policy questions from the governor’s race and share their vision for the future.

Everyone is warmly welcome.  Come with your neighbors, your friends, and your family.  Bring an open mind and an appetite. We will provide you an entertaining and informative evening at a great local restaurant!

Thursday, December 18    

7 :00  p.m.

The Canal 

65 Water Street

Worcester, MA

 

Come early to enjoy fine food and drink from The Canal’s menu!

Mass Highways Cost 5 Times National Average, Rank Low in Quality

Mass Highways Cost 5 Times National Average, Rank Low in Quality

Some interesting data.

Massachusetts administrative costs per mile of highway is $74,855. National average? $10,579.

We spend $675,312 per mile on our highways, second only to New Jersey.

National average? $160,202.

Despite spending 5 times the national average, this same report shows Mass. roads and bridges to be among the worst in the U.S.

And they wonder why we don’t want to give them more gas tax dollars.

 

http://reason.org/files/21st_annual_highway_report.pdf