Monday, April 27, 2009

Madison, WI Tax Day Tea Party Part 3

The next speaker was a 17 year old homeschooled student, Melika Willoughby.(My apologies to anyone whose name I may have misspelled.) Miss Willoughby asked that the government stop spending her future. She commented that when she was born her share of the national debt was $7100.00, but noted that it will soon quintuple. She said "It is time for We the People to once again take the helm of government." I found it refreshing (and reassuring)that she commented on the sacrifices of our founding fathers and indicated that such sacrifices will need to be made again. She ended with the words "God Bless America".

Sean Duffey, the District Attorney of Ashland County, opened by quoting Mr. Adams' statement that "Facts are stubborn things." He went on to say that we were here because our elected representatives "didn't read the bill." (I regard this as a scathing commentary on our elected representatives. What, after all, is their job, if not to read and understand every piece of legislation upon which they are voting?) He said "The American people are the engine of prosperity, not the government". He called us to remember our duty as citizens and quoted Mr. Reagan with regard to keeping the faith in our times.

Our host, Mr. Block, then thanked the Capitol Police for their assistance and relayed their reasonable request that we remove any sticks from our signs before taking them into the capitol building before introducing Mr. Pat Synder from WSAU Radio.

Mr. Synder requested that, in order to reduce our carbon footprint, we should all hold our breath for 60 seconds. (One might think he knew the EPA would be categorizing carbon dioxide as harmful in a few short weeks.) He then compared the number of tax preparers in our country to the number of doctors and used that comparison to highlight the issue we were there to protest. He remarked that legislators who provide entitlement programs are like those who provide crack cocaine for addicts, with the addicts being those people who benefit from the entitlements. While Mr. Snyder was entertaining and correct, I and the folks near me took exception when his comments about Mr. Obey extended to a statement that we should be thankful that we weren't married to him. One of the gentlemen near me said "We don't need to make that kind of statement to make our point-We're better than that" as his neighbors called out "cheap shot, cheap shot". I include this, not to chastise Mr. Snyder, but rather to point out the character of the crowd and I hope Mr. Snyder sees it as such. I enjoyed the rest of his speech and found his observations on the lack of diversity in politics, education and the media to be relevant and necessary. If no one is willing to point out the 500 pound gorilla in the room, how can it's presence, not to mention the danger it presents, be effectively addressed? He ended his remarks by saying:"We've got to take a stand, we've got to teach our kids, we've got to be mentors." and instructing the crowd to go to

Mr. Block then introduced the very young(24)mayor of LaCrosse. Mr. Matt Harter. His speech was short and to the point. He challenged the crowd to get involved, stay involved and take back our communities.

The next speaker was Pastor David King. Mr. Block commented that he had had a request for footage of a democrat speaking at a tax day tea party and Mr. King kindly agreed to be that democrat. He started out by remarking that he tells his congregation "We are born to raze hell". He went on to say that he had a habit of ticking people off. Now, I have been known to stir the pot a bit myself,(because if you don't stir the pot, the people on the bottom get burned and the folks on the top lose something to evaporation and become a thin scum over everything), but I have to say that in my case, he succeeded. I found his rhetoric, while entertaining, to be disrespectful and somewhat offensive, considering that many people had brought their children. His points were well made, but not what I expected from a pastor.

He suggested that the capitol police should be administering a drug test to the governor and the legislature. He suggested that we need a legislature watch web-site(I think there are several sites already performing that function.)to keep an eye on what they are doing, then said "we all know what our governor is doing-Put the pipe down!" He continued with his humorous drug analogies and went into a different analogy of what we, as taxpayers were getting from our government. He said "We got a taste of gettin s*****d without gettin kissed" He used this to say the legislature should at least make sure we got a little something out of the outrageous spending package that was approved. (In my opinion, we should be insisting that we be married before we get kissed or anything else. Call me a prude if you like-I'm good with that. Why buy the cow after all?) I'm sure this analogy could work on several levels, but I'm not going there. I'm appalled that such a statement was made to a crowd with entire families attending.

It made the point but it illustrated something else. Pastor King had commented earlier about some people being disenfranchised in order to preserve a building, or put up another building(my apologies-I can only write so fast and missed that bit). He said that "any time someone says a building is more important than the people in it, they need to go." His point was that government money should be spent on programs for people, not buildings. This is illustrative of the difference between liberals and conservatives. As a conservative, I believe that I have a duty to help those less fortunate than myself. Liberals tend to believe that the government has a duty to help those who have problems helping themselves.

Now I am not saying Mr. King is a liberal(just a democrat). He clearly believes in personally helping others as is witnessed by his work with the Milwaukee God Squad. But if we really want to get fiscal control of our government, we are going to have to bite the bullet and get rid of entitlement programs at all levels. Charity needs to be handled at the individual level through the private sector. If hurricane Katrina showed us nothing else, it showed us that the private sector is far more efficient and reliable than the government at administering charitable efforts. The funding of entitlement programs is going to sink us if we don't get this point.

The job of the government is to govern, not to engage in charity. Governing involves securing our borders, maintaining a standing army, administering a system of laws, and yes, collecting taxes to maintain infrastructure and pay and properly equip that standing army and etc. Different levels of government have different responsibilities under the Constitution, but charity is not one of them. In the words of James Madison, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger upon an article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on the objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." Perhaps the words of Congressman Davy Crockett would be better: “We have rights, as individuals, to give as much of our own money as we please to charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of public money.” Then there is President Franklin Pierce who said: “I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for public charity. [To approve such spending] would be contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Constitution and subversive to the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded.”

Unless we, like Miss Willoughby, recognize that sacrifice is necessary, we cannot regain control of our government. The Tea Party movement is a good place to start, but let us now set our foundational principles in stone and resolve to wean ourselves from government handouts as our first and foremost duty to ourselves and our nation. Let us make arrangements to take care of our own and those who have no families to care for them. Then let us firmly and gently remove those entitlement programs which should never have been undertaken by our government.

Orville Seymour was the next speaker. He was representing a group called Citizens for Responsible Government. His people were the ones asking for help to circulate a petition to recall Governor Doyle. You can find more information at

the last speaker. Vicki McKenna was introduced as "The rock star of radio." She chastised the MSM for not doing their job, the legislature for hastily convening committee meetings to allow some legislators to avoid meeting with their constituents after she was done speaking,and commented on Governor Doyle's part in the loss of Thomas Industries and Johnson Controls. You can see part of her speech here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Madison, WI Tax Day Tea Party Part 2

Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, continued the message of the day by calling on legislators to back off and recognize that strong families are the heart of the economy and the nation. Her message, that the current spending is taxation without representation because those who will have to pay it off have not yet been born, was very well received by the crowd. She continued by telling legislators: 'Your job is to govern this state, not to gouge it's families'. She remarked on the difficulty of leaving our families anything except staggering, horrendous debt. She also called on the crowd to work to replace all of our elected officials.

This was a fairly common theme and one to which I must take exception. There is good reason to get rid of many of those who are currently sitting in our congress as well as our state legislatures, but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. These folks have made the decisions they have, often in response to input from those who want the things they think such legislation will bring about and in absence of any input from those of us who believe in personal responsibility, self determination and limited government. Instead of throwing them out, I think we should examine their records, decide who is truly representing the best interests of their constituents and our country and throw the rest out. In addition, I think we need to show some support for those who are trying to do the right thing by sending them feedback and opinions. It's a lot easier for an elected official to stand up and do the right thing if they know they are not alone. Yes, get involved, but do more than complain.

Mayor Dave Ross from Superior asked "I wonder where the tax raisers rally will be? He went on to say "The incumbent I beat said he was driving down taxes by raising them 13%...We now have a plan to get to zero debt for our municipality." This was greeted with much approval. I have to say, that when I mentioned this speech to someone later, they said: "Well that sounds good, but has their crime rate gone up? What services did they let go? Are their streets clean? These are all good questions, but they miss the point. The point is that if we cannot afford to pay for services, we shouldn't buy them. There were huge crowds lining Pennsylvania Ave. for Mr. Reagan's funeral. There were only a few bits of litter after that crowd had cleared. After Mr. Obama's inauguration, the placed looked like a a garbage dump. What's the difference? I would submit to us all that the difference is the difference between the attitude that says "I should pick up after my self and leave the place cleaner than I found it" and the one that says "Someone else will pick it up for me-that's why I pay taxes." And that's what this movement is about-picking up after ourselves and being good stewards of our government and our country for our children and generations yet to be born.

Mr. Ross finished by asking "How much of our money does the government want? All of it!...They have forgotten that they are our servants." One hopes they have been reminded and will continue to be reminded in days to come.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Madison, WI Tax Day Tea Party Part 1

I joined the largest crowd to protest on the state capitol steps since the Vietnam war protests in the 60's on the 15th. Despite the media spin for other locations we had a well mannered crowd of approximately 8,200 in Madison.

Mr. Mark Block, head of the Wisconsin chapter of Americans For Prosperity was the organizer although he jokingly said he must not be a very good one or he would have ordered more buses to shuttle people from the parking area at the Alliant Energy Center to the capitol square. He did have 12 speakers and representatives(I am assuming AFP local chapter heads) from 72 counties in WI who had helped to get the word out about the event.

The first speaker was Congressman Paul Ryan who challenged the MSM's assertion that this wasn't a grass roots movement. Among the gems in his speech were these:" They (the political and media elite in this country) want you to pay up and shut up; Your patriotic duty is to pay taxes because the government is smarter than you are; America is an exceptional nation....and we want to keep it that way; We don't want to become a European nation, we want to maintain it an American nation." He then mentioned that this budget doubles our national debt in 5 years and triples it in 10, but that such spending is not necessary. He urged the crowd that if you believe in the principles that built this country- freedom, self-determination and liberty- then join us.

Then (to a bit of heckling) the Reince Priebus, the state chairman of Wisconsin's GOP had the microphone. He said "If we've learned anything over the past 4 months, it's that elections matter." The crowd heartily agreed. (There were a number of people who said they truly regretted having voted for Mr. Obama.) Mr. Priebus went on to say that "Big government stops here, big government stops today." While the crowd approved of the sentiment, they were skeptical of the GOP's ability to restrain themselves should they once again gain the majority.

The next speaker was Jerry Bader of WTAQ-Green Bay. He commented on Mr. Krugman's statement about the tea parties- that "They’re AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects."
In response, Mr. Bader said "This is the most reality Madison has seen in more than 100 years." (He's right, I grew up in Madison and have been known to refer to my hometown as "Universityland surrounded by la-la land".) He told the crowd that our greatest freedom is to have the chance to try and fail. If you've bought too much house, you're going to fail and that's the way it should be. He said Great success often comes from great risk. The implication is that without the opportunity to take great risks, we are shortchanging our opportunities to find great success as well. He encouraged the crowd to take risks and do more. Get involved and stay involved.
I'll add bits from the rest of the speakers as I have time this week.