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.

 

Magnificent promises, Lackluster results.

April 15 marks the 9th anniversary of the first Tax Day Tea Party rallies.  It was a time of incredible passion for the Constitution, limited government, and fiscal responsibility.  Thousands, perhaps millions, of people who had never done anything more political than vote or write a letter-to-the-editor, joined in rallies, marches, and campaigns.  They called talk shows, collected signatures, gave money, and even ran for office.  What happened to that passion?  Where are the thousands who fought so hard against bloated government?

Did the Tea Party live up to its promise or
did it wither in the hypocrisy of political partisanship?

Last week, a Republican House, a Republican Senate, and a Republican President passed and signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that funds the government through September.  It includes a treasure trove of liberal spending, along with dramatically increased defense spending.

The Atlantic Magazine said of the bill:

“President Obama finally got a Republican-controlled Congress to fund his domestic budget.  All it took was Donald Trump in the White House to get it done.”

According to The Atlantic, “Congress eliminated none of the 18 independent agencies Trump wanted to scrap, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. And several of the programs he wanted to zero out won huge increases instead. Take the TIGER grants, an infrastructure program created by Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus package. Congress had allocated $500 million to it each of the last several years, despite annual Obama requests to boost it to $1.25 billion. Trump’s budget called for axing it entirely, but lawmakers went even higher than Obama, giving $1.5 billion to TIGER. Or the Community Development Block Grant, a federal housing program that had been receiving $3 billion from Congress annually. Obama actually proposed cutting its funding by $200 million in 2016, while Trump called for chopping it altogether. In the end, it received $3.3 billion—a 10 percent boost.”

This legislation is an insult to the thousands of Americans who have fought for fiscal responsibility over the past nine years.  But, where are the protests?  I see vigorous discussions on Facebook.  Has this replaced the real activism of the patriots who rallied and marched in 2009 and 2010?  The lack of real response leaves the Tea Party movement subject to accurate labels of hypocrisy.

The Republican majority in Congress, President Trump, and all who support them should be ashamed of this spending bill.  “Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska accused his party of hypocrisy. “Every Republican would vote against this disgusting pork bill if a Democrat were president,” he said in a statement.” said The Atlantic.  President Trump and the Republicans promised balanced budgets.  Instead they’ve continued to saddle our children and grand children with never ending debt.

Liberals and Progressives make themselves easy targets because of their expected and blatant hypocrisy.  Millions of people marched around the country, in Washington, DC, and in Lincoln Square to protest bank bailouts and President Obama’s stimulus bill (which was a puny $831 billion over 10 years compared to this $1.4 trillion over 6 months).  When so-called fiscal conservatives fail to live up to their promises, we must hold them responsible.  An (R) after their names should provide no protection from their lies.

In Liberty,
Ken Mandile
Senior Fellow
Worcester Tea Party

Remember “Clear the Way” and the Fighting 69th

Mid-March brings us parades, green beer, shamrocks, and green attire in commemoration of the death of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland.  This once solemn day has morphed into an Irish-American cultural festival and has lost much (perhaps all) of its religious importance.  Not wanting to miss out on what seems like a great holiday, St. Patrick is now honored with parades all around the world, including some of the most unlikeliest places: Russia, South Korea, and Malaysia.  Even the International Space Station celebrates St. Patrick.

St. Patrick remains a mysterious figure.  He is known best for the myth that he expelled snakes from Ireland (never mind that there likely were never any snakes there to expel).  His real accomplishment was in converting the pagans of Ireland to Christianity.  The Irish love their patron saint, but lost in this focus on St. Patrick is the work of many other important Irish men and women.

The descendants of Irish immigrants have proven to be among the most important and influential Americans.  Of our past 10 Presidents, 9 had Irish blood (Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, Obama).  Ford is the only President missing in that chain.  President Trump has no known Irish ancestors, but he may be the only one who had a mother that spoke Gaelic.  She came from an island off of Scotland where the Irish language was spoken.

I recently listened to The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero, by Timothy Egan. The book is about Thomas Francis Meagher (pronounced Mahr). A hero of the Irish Rebellion of 1848, Meagher led an amazing life.  He defied death several times.  He was sentenced to be hung, drawn, and quartered for his revolutionary activities. From the dock, he taunted his judges with defiance:

“Proceed, then my lords, with that sentence which the law directs—I am prepared to hear it—I trust I am prepared to meet its execution. I shall go, I think, with a light heart before a higher tribunal—a tribunal where a Judge of infinite goodness, as well as of infinite justice, will preside, and where, my lords, many, many of the judgements of this world will be reversed.”

Of course there wouldn’t be much more to say about Thomas Meagher if he had been executed. The Queen gave him a reprieve and had him shipped off to the prison colony of Tasmania  (known then as Van Diemen’s Land). He escaped from there, but almost lost his life after spending four days at sea in a lifeboat.

Saved by an American whaling vessel, Meagher was brought to San Francisco and eventually made his way to New York.   There, he made a living giving lectures and continued his revolutionary zeal.

During the Civil War, he was a brigadier general and he recruited and led the 69th Irish Brigade, one of the most fearsome brigades in the Union Army.  The “Fighting 69th” suffered more battle deaths than all other brigades but two.   Under its war cry “Faugh a Ballaugh” (clear the way), Gen, Meagher developed a reputation that terrified his southern opponents.

Barely surviving the Civil War, Meagher became Acting Governor of Montana Territory, but at the young age of 43, he mysteriously fell overboard from a riverboat on the Missouri River.  Some have speculated that he was murdered by political opponents from Montana or by British agents intent on silencing the Irish revolutionary or perhaps by Confederate veterans seeking revenge.

Meagher is a hero to the Irish.  Statues of him sit in his hometown of Waterford and in his final home of Helena, Montana.  There is a monument in his honor at the Antietam battlefield and his name adorns many public spaces in Ireland and in the United States, including Meagher County, Montana.

While we celebrate the many myths of Ireland’s Patron Saint with green beer this month, let’s also remember the many Irish heroes who have helped shaped our country with their words, their actions, and their blood.

In Liberty,
Ken Mandile
Senior Fellow
Worcester Tea Party

Patriots beat Buccaneers!!

By the beginning of February, almost every American worker will see a jump in their net income because of the recently enacted tax cut and reform legislation.  While the tax bill (burdened with the unfortunate name “To provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018.”) is far from perfect, it is the first major reform in personal and corporate taxes in many years.  We are already seeing an enthusiastic response from companies who are sharing the benefits of the tax bill with their employees, repatriating overseas profits, and investing in capital improvements and employee training.

Taxes are probably the most enduring contentious issue in any political body.  The philosophical view of property rights and social obligations are ingrained in our political views and are most obvious in our positions on taxes.  Who has a right to the fruits of my labor?  What obligation do I have to share in the common needs of our society.  What are the limits on how my tax dollars are appropriated?  While we may revel in the passage of this bill, the battle for our wallets will continue unabated.

In “The City of God”, St. Augustine tells the story of a pirate who was brought before Alexander the Great.  In defense of his crimes, the pirate points out the hypocrisy of one of history’s greatest plunderers.

“Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies?
For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms?

All governments are inherently flawed, forced to take from its citizens to administer its works.  They pretend that they have moral authority because they operate under the fabricated illusion of voluntary consent by its citizens. We know from almost every recent election, this authority is granted by bare majorities. Forty-nine percent have not consented.  Lacking that consent, do they still have the moral authority to take our wages?

St. Augustine believed that the state was challenging the authority of individual free will and that of God.  Yet, like us, he recognized the need for the state.   This recognition did not blind him to the potential and likely abuse of the (mostly fictitious) authority of the state to tax.  He understood that people joined by will or by force under a common cause allowed them to be robbed of some of the freedom.

In referring to the government, St. Augustine said:

“The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince,
it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy;
the booty is divided by the law agreed on.”

Unless we can find a piece of land on which to hermit ourselves for a lifetime, we have no choice but to concede that the state, with all of its flaws, is a necessary evil.  As with any evil though, we should never falter in our resolve to keep it contained.  The new tax cuts and reform will move us incrementally in the direction of restraining the government, but this win will be short lived.  The state and its worshipers will be back for more.

It is our duty to stop these pirates.

​In Liberty,
Ken Mandile
Senior Fellow
Worcester Tea Party

Taxes rob people of so much more than money.

Tax is Theft!!

. . . Is a common refrain that we could hear at any Tea Party meeting.  There is the obvious way in which taking taxes from someone is similar to theft such as the Sheriff of Nottingham taking the crops from the people of Sherwood Forest.  But there is a deeper and more insidious way that taxation is theft.  It is not as direct as the sheriff with the club demanding your produce, but it is just as damaging to our society.

People often will accept paying high taxes because they believe the taxes go to do “good.”  Those same people believe they have done enough “good” because they have paid those high taxes.

When Scrooge was asked to donate to the poor he said he had already done enough because his taxes paid for orphanages and poor houses.  The ghost of Scrooge’s partner howls a warning: “Mankind was my business.  The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were, all, my business.”

Since Dickens’ time there are more government programs to help people, but we can see they have only a few successes and many failures.  Executives of the VA are given hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money in bonuses for good performance, while our brave veterans wait, and wither, and die for lack of care.  In our Commonwealth, Auditor Bump has published lists of how poorly the DCF has served the families of at risk children.  But when confronted by the hard facts, politicians and bureaucrats insist that the problem is that you don’t pay enough in taxes.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing,

over and over again, and expecting a different result.”

Citizens of the Eurozone handed over more of their income to their governments and they have given up their responsibility for taking care of their neighbors.  They have also suspended their belief in their own judgment and ability to do so.  Conversely, the citizens of the United States not only give more to charity than those European governments, we do so voluntarily; unlike Europe that takes so much more of their citizen’s wealth and give so little in return.

Wealth and prosperity begets charity,

not coercion and politicization . . . i.e. taxes.

One of the reasons why Americans give more money to charities than people in Europe is because in the United States we feel a personal responsibility to help our neighbors and we also have a healthy skepticism of the positive effects of big government.

Our world is rich with people who are pursuing their passion to serve their fellow man, but time after time governments get in the way.  Good men and women are crafting new ways to help us all advance into a prosperous and peaceful future.  Mindless bureaucrats will arrest good Samaritans for giving sandwiches to the homeless without a license.  Big Government requires individuals to make themselves smaller.  When we shrink governments, we return power to individuals.  Only with truly limited government can we have truly unlimited individuals empowered to do good.

​In Liberty,
Matt O’Brien
President
Worcester Tea Party

Liberty endangered by the abuse of power

“Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty,
but also by the abuse of power.”

— James Madison 

As I write a few days before you are reading this, I’m having trouble keeping up with the number of politicians, Hollywood celebrities, and reputable journalists that are being brought down for their repulsive behavior.  The sexual harassment claims against men who hold power, whether in politics or in the workplace or in the newsroom, seems to have exploded since  Harvey Weinstein was exposed as the monster that he is.  While none of this is really shocking, what is surprising is the speed at which they are falling.  It is a stunning toppling of powerful men who have abused their positions for many years.

There are a few lessons that we can learn from this wide-encompassing scandal.

1)  There is no limit to the number of hypocrites in the halls of Congress and in Hollywood and in the newsroom.

2)  There are many women who have suffered from abuse, harassment, or even rape, who were frightened into silence by a society that too often made excuses for the powerful. Too many excused this behavior by thinking that “boys will be boys”.  This is a different time though and we are better for it.  Never again should the Bill Clintons and Ted Kennedys of this world be given a pass.

3)  American love sex scandals, even when they involve victims who have been severely harmed.

4)  We love to defend those on our side when the scandals involve “their guy”.  Whether to believe the accuser or the accused too often depends on their politics.

5)  The court of public opinion can often deliver justice that is swift and effective and just when the courts of justice fail us.

These men who are being brought down have been proven to be weak, immoral characters.  So why did so many idolize them before these scandals?   Why are people so willing to allow these kinds of people to lead them or have influence over them?   If anything, we should learn that just because someone is powerful or wealthy or famous, they are no better than the average citizen.  In fact, I would posit that they likely gained their positions because of the faults, not despite them.    They are addicted to power and they used this power for sexual conquests and violence.  When these men have been flushed out, America will be a better country, intolerant of those who abuse the vulnerable.

We should always question the ethics of those who seek power.  A more effective way to protect the vulnerable than this is to seek ways to limit the power and authority of those who lust for it.  A flawed person with no power is of no consequence to us.

I know that many people are reveling in the schadenfreude that comes from seeing the powerful fall.  In the midst of this glee, let’s not forget their victims, women who have suffered alone, often for many years.  They are victims of evil men who abused power.   Let us all be ever vigilant and ready to knock those who abuse power and position from their pedestals.

​In Liberty,
Ken Mandile
Senior Fellow
Worcester Tea Party

“Facts are stubborn things”

“Facts are stubborn things;
and whatever may be our wishes,
our inclinations, or
the dictates of our passions,
they cannot alter the
state of facts and evidence”

John Adams 1770 Trial for the British soldiers
involved in the Boston Massacre.

The election of Donald Trump as president has had a terrifying effect on many of our fellow Americans.  One has to look no further than the plans that are being made to have a Protest Scream on Boston Common on the anniversary of Trump’s election and this summer 40,000 of our fellow citizens marched in a “Stand Up to Nazis” event, of course no Nazis were there.

This is the state of politics in our Republic in 2017.  The politics of self-destruction and negative campaigns that have gone on for decades, seeming only to get more vicious and more personal as well as less issue-oriented and less principled every day.  This has turned off a solid majority of Americans from being involved in politics and their government.  Those that are involved are blinded by partisan zeal.  They seem more interested in scoring political points than in effectively crafting policy that serves our Republic.

Such facts could make one cynical about the future of our Republic.  Happily there are other facts that can’t be ignored, hidden or forgotten.

America is built on big dreams, small dreams, and impossible dreams.  Those dreams became facts.  America is the place that people from all over the world come to dream big.  Without dreams not only America, but most of modern society would be impossible.  Without dreams there’d be no airplanes, no satellites, no cell phones, no computers, no movies, no music; what a blighted world this would be if we allowed our dreams to be overcome by our cynicism.

The WTP is made of equal parts dream and cynicism.  We believe that our current political leaders have lost faith with the Dream that America is founded on.  And we still believe in that Dream.  All that we do together is to turn that Dream in to a fact.  The work of the WTP is by necessity profoundly hopeful.

That is not to say that our work is easy.

I am confident that working together we will face all the challenges and overcome every obstacle.  But this cannot happen without you.  The WTP needs you to volunteer your time.  The WTP depends on your donations to support our effort.  Follow the PayPal link and give what you can.

Thank you for all you do in the cause of Liberty.

​In Liberty,
Matt O’Brien
President
Worcester Tea Party

No right to absolute arbitrary power!

In the fall of 1772, Massachusetts House of Representatives member Samuel Adams began to stir up some trouble in Boston.  The legislature had traditionally paid the salaries of the Governor and of judges, but the British decided that they would pay these officials directly.  This removed an important check on power, diminishing the power of the colony’s elected representatives.  Adams had had enough of dirty British political tricks.  It was time for action.

In November, he formed the Committees of Correspondence, effectively forming a shadow government that was not accountable to the crown.  Adams’ document forming the Committees of Correspondence consisted of three parts:

“First, a State of the Rights of the Colonists and of this Province in particular–

Secondly, A List of the Infringements, and Violations of those Rights.–

Thirdly, A Letter of Correspondence with the other Towns.-“

In many ways, it was a precursor to the Declaration of Independence that would follow less than four years later.   Samuel Adams’ declaration of rights goes further than our other founding documents.  He felt that no citizen could voluntarily cede their rights.  These were gifts from God.:

“If men through fear, fraud or mistake, should in terms renounce and give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the great end of society, would absolutely vacate such renunciation; the right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave.”

Can we look at today’s federal government and believe anything less than that we have alienated this gift?  While we fight over football players and statues and fake news, others fight to cede their gifts (and ours) to a bloated power in Washington.

Eight years ago this month, tens of thousands of Tea Partiers marched on Washington in the 912 March, demanding an end to the bloat.  Looking back, it seems that much of our effort was futile.  We can look at Washington today and we see little effective effort in Congress to deflate the bubble of bureaucracy.  Yet, many of us still fight on.  The fight is a lot more lonely today, but no less important.  Are we going to cede the gift of liberty through inaction and apathy?   We may not gather again in enormous crowds, but we can fight on alone, in our neighborhoods, and in our towns.  This was where Sam Adams brought the battle.  And, it is there that he helped spark the brush fires of liberty that we celebrate today.

 

​In Liberty,
Ken Mandile
Senior Fellow
Worcester Tea Party

Be Civilized Grudges are for Neanderthals

It is with great hesitancy that I wade into the quagmire of this month’s events in Charlottesville and Boston.  Uncontrolled and irrational emotions on both sides seem to have wiped out any chance of civilized conversation about Charlottesville, President Trump, Antifa, White Supremacy, Confederate statues, and other issues that have gripped the news and social media.

 

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