Friday, April 04, 2008

The 2nd American Revolution

That's Carla Howell, chairman of the Small Government Committee.

It's beginning again in Massachusetts, the site of the beginning of the American Revolution. Remember the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre, and Paul Revere's ride? The kind of people that threw off the shackles of the British in the 18th century are rising up again in the 21st.

In November, the people of Massachusetts will have a second opportunity to end the state income tax. In 2002 they nearly managed it: the vote then to end the state income tax was defeated by a startlingly small margin, 45% to 55%.

It was so startling that the usual gang of suspects have rallied to oppose this year's measure with a vengeance:
  • Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick, called it "a dumb idea" and "foolish"
  • Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President, Michael Widmer, said it would lead to "political chaos" and "rampant lawsuits", and that the state would be "the joke of the nation" [Maybe it's just me, but wouldn't you think that a "Taxpayers Foundation" would be in favor of reducing taxes? - Ed.]
  • The Committee for Our Communities – a collaboration of teachers and labor leaders – says it would decimate education
  • Greater Boston Labor Council President, Rich Rogers, said that it's an "insane idea"
  • Massachusetts Teachers Association President, Anne Wass, called it "a wacky, wrong-headed idea"
I don't know about you, but I'm not convinced by these protests.

Nine states currently have no personal income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. New Hampshire and Tennessee have an income tax, but only on interest and dividends. I'd say that Massachusetts governor Patrick has plenty of states he could contact to see how they do it.

The Committee for Small Government's web site contains more information and an appeal: they're looking to leverage the influence of the Internet by setting off a "money bomb" on April 15th to raise $100,000 to continue their effort to place the initiative on the ballot. There's a special web site called Tax Day MoneyBomb to assist in that effort.

For whatever reason, Massachusetts requires two rounds of signature gathering to enable any ballot initiative to make it onto the ballot. The first one, requiring 66,593 signatures, was accomplished after the group collected 100,000 "raw" signatures of which 76,084 were approved. Now they need to collect another 20,000 signatures. $100,000 donated by April 15th will go a long way towards helping them achieve that essential goal.

The question they ask on the Small Government web site is, "Why should you get involved? Why should you donate money so that Massachusetts workers can end their Income Tax?"

Do you remember California's Proposition 13 that put a lid on property tax increases? When it passed in the late 70s it spawned a host of similar referendums across the country. Ballot initiatives have since been passed and copied around the country to:
  • Impose term limits on legislators
  • Permit the medical use of marijuana
  • Restrict the use of eminent domain to take private property
  • Repeal affirmative action laws
  • Create a constitutional definition of marriage
You may not like all of the above examples. The point is that ballot initiatives have become a legitimate and powerful way for voters to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo. If Massachusetts voters approve the end of the state income tax, copycat initiatives will have a far better chance of getting on the ballot in your state.

Here's an interesting video produced by the Committee for Small Government explaining what the End the Income Tax ballot initiative is all about. The presenter is a man named Kamal Jain:

Make a donation by April 15th to help start the 2nd American Revolution!

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