Diary

The Stamp of Revolution - Again

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The American Revolution was fired up in earnest with the Tax Stamp Act, imposed by the British Parliament on the American Colonies. This Act required that a Stamp be affixed to any paper or document such as bills, newspapers, correspondence, leases, bills of sale, etc. It was invasive, arbitrary and onerous.

The Federal and State governments are continuing this tradition of oppression with Stimulus Bills which our representatives neither understand nor read. Yet these bills are passed without any mind to the financial indentured servitude for future generations. I believe that this debt will be a ‘fiscal press gang’ against generations’ optimism, opportunity and Freedom.

The latest California budget fiasco is an opportunity in disguise.  Sacramento has become a laughable reference for a political class which spends like a drunken sailor making a port of call after months at sea.   I intend no insult against sailors. They can only spend what’s in their pocket – and they borrow from shipmates who know where to find them.

Sacramento’s Latest Budget Balancing Plan: Raid, pillage and burn the budgets of its Counties and Cities.

To maintain its reckless, gluttonous diet of a bureaucracy expanding faster than the guts of a hungry contestant in a hot dog eating contest (Joey Chestnut wolfed down 68 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes at Nathan’s annual 4th of July contest), Sacramento has expanded employees, unions and ever-widening Chinese take-out menu of services that aren’t justified by the incoming revenues. Here is the effect of their plan:

  • Several sources who have been briefed on the ongoing budget negotiations say that included in the pending deal are $2 billion in borrowing from local property tax revenues that would otherwise go to cities and counties and about $1 billion that would be taken outright from gasoline taxes that now go to local governments for street maintenance and repair. The effect of these actions, says local government lobbyist Anthony Gonsalves, would be dramatic. “They’re going to bankrupt the cities like they bankrupted the state. If this happens, there will be a minimum of 30 cities that are going to file for bankruptcy,” said Gonsalves, whose clients include the cities of Camarillo, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks.

But here’s the good news. The States and Cities are going to fight back.  Guess what my favorite sentence is in this excerpt?

  • The anxiety of local government officials is so intense that over the weekend more than 500 supervisors, city council members and school board members gathered in the Sacramento summer heat to vent their anger, listen to calls for a constitutional convention to dramatically reform state government, and attempt to organize the beginnings of a revolution that would permanently change the relationship between state and local governments in California.

This isn’t a problem. It’s an opportunity. Are you listening?  “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” is spreading. The Tea Party enthusiasm is crossing over from select groups (or what Janet ‘The Terrorists Came In from Canada’ Napolitano calls ‘right-wing extremists’) to the mainstream. They just don’t know that it’s called ’smaller government’ i.e., conservatism. Some prominent council members are calling for a Constitutional Convention to “to give cities, counties and local school districts greater control over their revenues.”

  • “After a series of Saturday workshops, the local officials identified the top four areas they would like to see targeted for reform: protection of local revenue sources, term limits, lowering the voter-approval threshold for local revenue measures, and requiring future ballot initiatives to identify revenue sources to pay for their associated costs.”

Most are conservative principles of fiscal responsibility, not that I saw them observed much over the last decade in either Federal or State government.  Nonetheless, this moment is a keen opportunity for conservatives to reassert the message that financial responsibility means safety, education, and the future.

The 10th Amendment of the Constitution says:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

ACTION: This Amendment echoes on the local level. You can push your city to keep its revenues, property taxes and assert more local control. You can push your state to affirm the 10th Amendment. A number of states are doing so. Even symbolically, the reassertion of state sovereignty means that the state’s representatives on the federal, state and even city level are more accountable to the citizens who elected them.

PROBLEM: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work,”  said Thomas Edison.

You’ll have to roll up your sleeves, quick screwing around with your iPod, turn off the TV and head down to the local City Hall to give voice to your anger. That’s what they did in the pubs, halls and town squares to stir the populace. An overwhelming debt is an oppression of the mind. One that saps our optimism for opportunity, destroying creative impulses that cannot be entertained because they are suborned to the practical servicing of debt and obligation.

Our voices, together as Citizen Soldiers, can set fires in people’s minds with a walk to City Hall.  Revolution.