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FreedomFest: Teaching the Choir to Preach
First, thanks to the hundred-plus folks who came out to FreedomFest on July 8th and made it such a pleasant success. Thanks as well to all those who gave such enlightening and entertaining presentations, and in some cases traveled great distances to do so.
As for my own remarks, I had to hastily alter my planned speech to address a comment I overheard during the lunch break. In a nutshell, someone lamented that it was too bad that all the wonderful and useful information FreedomFest provided was “preaching to the choir,” and that all Vermonters needed to hear what was being said that day. True on both counts! However…
The goal of FreedomFest, and indeed of all the communication efforts by FreedomWorks, the Ethan Allen Institute and the other participating organizations, has to be to teach and inspire the ‘choir’ to preach. We need those who came to listen to leave the room talking about what they heard, and telling ALL Vermonters about these issues in the process. This doesn’t necessarily mean standing on a soap box and making a speech; it means saying a few words to a neighbor in the grocery line. It doesn’t mean writing a white paper; it means sending in a letter to the editor from time to time. It doesn’t mean gathering a hundred folks together in a room; it means keeping a dialogue open with a handful of friends via email. Together, hundreds of small gestures like this from a growing number of engaged citizens can have a tremendous impact by starting and fanning those “brush fires” Samuel Adams so eloquently described.
As James Dwinell pointed out at the close of FreedomFest, those of us who gave up a beautiful Saturday in July for a heaping helping of tax, education and regulatory policy in a dimly lit auditorium aren’t typical (James used the term “normal,” but why don’t we just say “typical!”). We are the choir. But the choir has an important job – to sing loud, sing often, and sing in harmony! And if we all do that job well between now and November, and in the process convince a few friends and neighbors to join our chorus we can and will have a positive impact.
ACTION ITEM: Please start by forwarding this email to your likeminded friends, and urge them to join our mailing list at www.freedomworks.org.
The spirit of FreedomFest all year long at TrueNorthRadio.Com
For those who couldn’t make it to FreedomFest, couldn’t get enough policy and opinion while there, or for those who are, in Dwinell’s words, just plain normal and went fishing instead… there is an exciting new resource where ALL Vermonters can come together and learn about the issues, ask questions and find a voice on line, any time: TrueNorthRadio.Com.
Sparked by the strong working relationship between FreedomWorks-Vermont and True North (WDEV AM550 & FM96.1, WSYB AM1380, and FM 96.5 Barre, 11:05 – 12 noon Mon-Fri), TrueNorthRadio.Com has been retooled and re-launched as a web magazine for center/right thinkers in Vermont. TNR.COM raises issues and offers Vermonters a perspective on the news that you won’t find in Vermont’s mainstream (and I use the term loosely) media, and is a platform for Vermont’s conservative voices to challenge the left wing biases in the Vermont media establishment.
This is a chance for the individuals and organizations who came together at FreedomFest to stay together on the internet -- to share information, opinions, and ideas, and to reach out to others in the process – all year round. The first few editions of TrueNorthRadio.Com (new posts every Monday) have included writings by John McClaughry, Frank Mazur, Rob Roper, Martin Harris, Mike Seely and several other prominent Vermont center/right thinkers and activists. Each week includes links to stories around the state and around the country. This is a labor of love, supported by volunteers who see the potential power of combining talk radio, the internet and email to have a meaningful impact on Vermont politics.
Please check out the site at www.truenorthradio.com, and submit your pieces for review, letters, and suggestions for improving the site to email@example.com. This site will be as good and as powerful a tool as we make it!
Tax cuts aren’t partisan when hatred is removed.
It has been gratifying to watch the debate in Vermont papers about tax cuts and how they have proven to effectively raise government revenues. That the final if begrudging concession by the Times Argus editorial page, “Score one for President Bush…” came on my birthday, was particularly satisfying. But the rest of the editorial, On the slight decline in the federal deficit, leaves me wondering what kind of twisted brand of politics Vermont is spawning?
Sadly, I have to conclude that there are many people in Vermont who would rather “hate the rich” than compassionately help the poor. When, after conceding the tax cuts have indeed increased revenues to the treasury, the TA writes, “The last thing the nation should do is look at this budgetary blip and conclude that it justifies extending tax cuts that are set to expire,” they defy logic, common sense, and real world experience.
First of all, cutting taxes to raise revenues is not a “blip” – it happens every time it’s tried. At the federal level, Presidents Kennedy, Reagan, and G.W. Bush all cut taxes and government revenues soared. At the state level, sane leaders in other blue states have come to recognize this reality and, rather than trying to explain away what works, helps, and improves people’s lives, have adopted dramatic tax cut strategies for themselves.
Democrat Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico (Bill Clinton’s Energy Secretary and certainly no neo-con) slashed his state’s top income tax rates and cut the capital gains tax in half in 2003. Today, New Mexico has a half-billion-dollar surplus and has seen tax revenues soar faster than any other state – up 27% last year alone. The super-majority democrat legislature in Rhode Island just implemented a flat tax, cutting tax rates for top earners nearly in half, specifically trumpeting the fact that they were cutting taxes for the rich. Why? The policy works! And these leaders won’t let irrational partisan hatred or a blind socialist ideology get in the way of fixing problems for the people they represent.
The Times Argus chose an analogy to describe how tax cuts have succeeded in reducing the Federal Budget deficit from a projected $423 billion to a $296 billion isn’t really worth the effort: “Suppose your team is trailing by eight runs. Then your side scores one run. That is good news. But you are still far behind, and opportunities to erase that deficit are dwindling.” The TA makes a point, but misses a more important one: We are raising more money, but we still have a deficit. How can this be? Sticking with the Times Argus’ baseball banter, there are two sides to the game. Hitting/scoring -- or raising revenues. AND pitching/defense – controlling spending!
Right now, our national economy is scoring runs like gangbusters thanks to the tax cuts. We shouldn’t change a thing we’re doing at the plate (ie: we should make the tax cuts permanent, and in fact, find more places to cut). It’s our pitching that’s killing us!
The way to win a baseball game when you’re behind -- as we are -- is to keep scoring runs, and stop giving them up. For our economy, that means increase revenues with tax cut policies that actually work, while at the same time REDUCING SPENDING to the point where we’re not shelling out more than we’re taking in. At least our leaders in Washington know how to hit.
Vermont, however, are living a version of The Bad News Bears go to Montpelier – before they got the girl and the juvenile delinquent on the motorcycle. As Vermont Senate Appropriations Chair, Susan Bartlett (D-Lamoille) admitted, “We [Vermont] have more bills than we have revenues.” Yet, at the same time, Vermonters are either the most heavily taxed people per capita in the country, or at least in the top 5 depending on how you crunch the numbers. We got no hitting. We got no pitching. Is it any wonder the fans (young people aged 18-34 in particular) are leaving the stadium at four times the national average?
There are bipartisan solutions to Vermont’s problems. Cut taxes, and control spending. The question is, will we allow partisan hatred or blind ideology to get in the way of putting those common sense, real world solutions into place? I guess we’ll find out in the November Classic.
Take the Free Press up on an offer!
On July 16, 2006, the Burlington Free Press ran an editorial, Vermont at Crossroad takes look at ourselves. It read in part, "Vermonters are increasingly talking about changes sweeping the state. You don't have to look far to see that traditional agriculture is troubled, development is transforming some communities, young people are moving out and average folks can't afford to buy a house, heat it and pay taxes on it…. How would you propose resolving difficult issues, such as energy consumption, the fading family farm, the fleeing young people, the high cost of housing, taxes, health care, education?...We open this debate to you….Write to us with yours -- either as a Letter to the Editor, at a maximum 250 words, or a My Turn, at about 600 words."
Take the Free Press up on this offer! Let them know about the tax cuts and spending controls that are working in other states, and how we need to adopt similar measures here at home. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org!
To read the full BFP Editorial, click here.
If you would like to learn more about FreedomWorks-Vermont, or to get involved in the fight for lower taxes, smaller government and greater economic opportunity, please contact State Director, Rob Roper, at 802-999-8145, email@example.com, or visit www.freedomworks.org/vermont/. Join the fight for lower taxes, smaller government, and greater economic opportunity.
You can hear FreedomWorks-Vermont State Director, Rob Roper every Thursday on True North Radio -- 11:05am, WDEV (550 AM, 96.1 FM), or WSYB 1380 AM. If you'd like to call in, the number is 802-244-1776 – And every Friday on the Comment Show --WSRA 1420 AM with host, Paul Beaudry.
The FreedomWorks-Vermont Report is free, but if you would like to make a voluntary subscription payment to help keep the newsletter and our activities going here in Vermont, please send a check to “FreedomWorks-Vermont”, for whatever amount you think its worth (that’s the free market at work!), to P.O. Box 72, Montpelier, Vermont 05601. And thank you!
Please pass this along to your like-minded friends and neighbors. Your feedback and opinions are much welcome.