Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Demise of Citizens for Limited Taxation

I made a comment over at BMG that I'd like to post here. I don't think it's one of my most eloquent comments and there's little wit to be had, but I'm posting it because it's true.
[CLT] was a great thing... if you consider it an example of irresponsible governing. Don't get me wrong -- I think the idea of a prop 2 1/2 isn't a bad one. I don't think town meeting or the city council should just be able to vote on their own to build a new school (raising the taxes to do it), for example, but to demand towns stay under the rate of inflation when some of their biggest costs are are becoming more expensive at 3-4x the rate of inflation, it is not "a great thing." A bill that would have forced town votes when going above and beyond the status quo, level funding services, would have been both accountable and responsible... but accountability and responsibility has NEVER been Barbara Anderson and Carla Howell's goals.
The problem with CLT was never that it claimed to want accountability for taxpayers, the problem with CLT was that accountability was a secondary goal to killing government. It wanted to starve the best, making sure its expenses rose quicker than its ability to pay for those expenses, so one by one the programs would die out and no one would notice the beast was dead until after it drew its last breath.

Prop 2 1/2 wasn't about making sure cities and towns couldn't just raise taxes as they felt like it, build whatever building they wanted, and face little electoral pressure for their decisions. Prop 2 1/2 was about killing public education, pure and simple. A few decades later and the girls -- Carla Howell and Barbara Anderson -- can be quite proud of what they've accomplished; their final mission is nearly complete, as cities and towns are falling apart across the Commonwealth.

But, Ryan, what about accountability? What about making sure money was spent wisely? If CLT was about accountability, they'd have followed a different track -- they'd have tried to get towns to vote on tax increases if it were to pay for serves above and beyond level servicing government. It's hard to fathom even then that people wouldn't understand that inflation often rises above the rate of inflation -- and that unforeseen problems arise.

But Howell, Anderson and the CLT bunch never cared about that. All they cared about was government without taxation, even if it killed public education in the long run. They were so effective because they knew they were far more patient than their foes -- they could convince people to vote their way then, because it would take decades for their actions to take full effect. No one would have to feel accountable for their decisions then and few probably understood the full repercussions, but we're feeling them now.

The damage those two have done to this state will be felt for a long time, well past the expiration date of Howell, Anderson and Citizens for Limited Taxation, which is imminent. Their movement holds no sway any longer, as another, far crazier and less dangerous one takes its place -- the tea baggers, who have an absolute aversion to facts and anything that doesn't confirm to their worldview. They will never have the patience and intelligence to act in the way Barbara Anderson and Carla Howell have over the past few decades, but unfortunately the damage is done. It will take real leadership to undo the damage CLT did to this state, while simultaneously instilling real accountability in government, but I'm not sure we're quite there yet.


Anonymous said...

Why CLT matters?

Barbara Anderson/CLT matters because Marian Walsh exists

Barbara Anderson/CLT matters because Sal DiMasi exists

Barbara Anderson/CLT matters because Diane Wilkerson exists

Anonymous said...

You blue people as so fucking stupid. Every time you say something about CLT another hater like me writes a check.

Anonymous said...

just wrote them a check

Anonymous said...

me too! $200!

Ryan said...

I don't think CLT is on its way out because there aren't movement conservatives anymore. I just don't think today's movement conservatives identify with the older CLTers. Teabaggers are very, very different than CLTers. So, the loss of CLT support has less to do with a larger progressive movement than it does a shifting base on the right to different, more tribal movements.

Anonymous said...

I'm on the cusp of changing from a producer to a leech. For many years the number of people generating income (taxpayers) was greater than the siphoners (recipients of soc security,gov't aid,etc). There will soon be more people riding on the wagon than there are pulling it. Organizations such as CLT slowed down the transition. I'm ready to climb on the wagon and as Bette Davis(?) said "It's going to be a bumpy ride"

Ryan said...

How do you come to the calculus that there will suddenly be more 'leeches' than taxpayers? I don't think the facts support your conclusions, even if you included children and old people in your equation. (And, quite frankly, I'm *okay* with children and old people "leeching." LOL.)

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