Sunday, April 12, 2009

Why are Wyoming Republicans protesting taxation without representation?

One person's protest in another one's pointless exercise.

I'm a long-time supporter and participant in protests and marches. The protest is usually against something, but isn't that what they're supposed to be about?

Ruffin Prevost writes in today's Billings Gazette about so-called "tea party" protests on April 15 in Montana and Wyoming. You may have heard about these protests on Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly -- any of those Fixed News shows. Ostensibly, these protests are against high taxes and taxation without representation.

"Taxes have always been too high, but I think this year, what's going on has really concerned Americans," said Eric Olsen, an organizer of a tax day "tea party" protest scheduled in Billings, Mont. Olsen, who owns an independent oil and gas company, said he has been politically active for years, and writes his congressional representatives weekly. His most recent letters have focused on stopping federal bailout and stimulus spending."What it's going to take is a bigger collection of Americans standing up and talking, and I believe we'll see that this year," he said. He expects 2,000 or more to show up at noon Wednesday in front of the Yellowstone County Courthouse.

That's a pretty good crowd. These people have neen energized by wingnut radio hosts and right-wing advocacy groups. Hey, they deserve some time on the streets too. Progressive activists pretty much dominated the protest circuit during the last eight years. Turnabout is fair play.

I'm just not sure what the protestors are protesting. Reminds me of some of the Lefty anti-war gatherings during Bush's rush to war in Iraq. Speakers would rant about homelessness and greed and the military-industrial complex and the 9-11 conspiracy and poisons in our food and just about everything else under the sun and moon. Worthy topics (except for the 9-11 hoaxers) but the message got mangled amongst all the diatribes.

So I'm not sure about the tea party message. The original Boston Tea Party protested taxes levied by the King in a faraway land called England. The merchants dumped the tea into the harbor rather than pay the taxes. That's a pretty good protest. Something big was at stake. Something real.

Organizers will circulate petitions opposing federal bailout spending, budget priorities and tax rates, he said. David Kellett, owner of a computer networking support business, said the protest he is planning in Powell is one of nearly 2,000 in the works across the country, all modeled after the Boston Tea Party of 1773, which protested taxes on tea without legislative representation.

April Poley, who operates a home-based business in Buffalo, has set up a blog and Facebook page to publicize a tea party she is helping to organize in Sheridan."I sent out a little e-mail and very quickly, within 24 hours, started receiving e-mails from people I don't even know, all wanting to help," she said. The Sheridan protest, planned for 5 p.m. at Grinnell Plaza, in front of City Hall, has attracted people of varying political backgrounds, Poley said. "It doesn't matter what your politics are, you can still be angry at spending and Washington not listening to you, although we're fortunate in Wyoming in that our representatives have listened to us," she said.

So Wyomingites already have taxation WITH representation. If you're a Republican. I've been protesting taxation without representation in Wyoming. I'm being taxed to pay for a pointless war in Iraq, Cold War military weaponry that is useless in guerrilla wars, and no-bid contracts for Halliburton war profiteers who pay fewer taxes than I do. Every time I brought up these expenditures to our Wyoming delegation during the past decade, I was basically told: "Hey buddy, there's a war on. Why do you hate the troops?"

And here's the kicker:

U.S. Census data put Wyoming 10th in 2007 in federal spending per capita, while Montana ranked 20th. Both states are perennial net federal spending winners, with Wyoming receiving $1.11 back for every dollar paid in federal taxes in 2005, while Montana got back $1.43.

Taxation without representation in Wyoming and Montana? Give me a break. Our delegation really brought home the bacon during the Bush years. Let's see what happens now.

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