Greece Is the Way

I’d been intending to highlight Ed Achorn’s column from last week, anyway, but it’s got special significance for me, after Saturday’s vote in Tiverton:

See if any of this sounds familiar.
In Greece, politicians have duped voters into believing that it is compassionate to run up massive debts, fund unsustainable social programs, punish the work ethic and job creation, and give away the store to public-employee unions (with higher wages, better benefits and earlier, more generous retirements than those available to most in the private sector). …
Still, thanks to a sufficient number of voters who pay little in taxes, get handouts, and/or have friends or relatives in government to protect, its politicians have gotten away with this behavior for quite some time.

Ed’s focus is on Rhode Island, as a state, but the same characteristic philosophy resides in the cities and towns, to varying degrees. Some of the people who voted for a 7.88% minimum tax increase, in Tiverton, were parents riled by the threats of the School Committee, but most were teachers themselves or the family and friends of union members. Fill in the remainder with residents who enjoy what they perceive as free services and others who just resent having people who’ve lived here for only a decade or two deign to offer suggestions.
It’s difficult to see what could turn the ship around.

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trip
trip
11 years ago

Or some of us are just thoughtful voters who did not think the TCC was being honest. Funny, how all of those teachers of Tiverton schools live in the town and are so selfish that they would vote to fund the schools. I noticed many people voting for the budget that were not wearing red shirts and were not teachers.

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
11 years ago

>>It’s difficult to see what could turn the ship around.
I christen thee: RItanic!

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

There is a difference!
People here actually work and produce. Read the paper – the tourism and recreational boating industry is picking up again. So is the building and remodeling. Heck, West Marine is tripling the size of their store AND their staff.
The USA is NOT Greece. However, most sane people do agree that we need to get our local, state and federal deficits under control. Sometimes you need a shock like this to get things back on track.
But the idea that the sky is falling? I think it already fell, courtesy of those “conservatives” who ran things for a decade or more. We are now hopefully piecing it back together again.

tommy cranston
tommy cranston
11 years ago

“It’s difficult to see what could turn the ship around.”
Nothing. Put up a sign-“Welcome To East Detroit”.
To semi-quote that great philosopher Olivia Newton-John “Greece (sic) is the word”.
The coalition of the scummy:
1. Political cronies
2. Union tit-suckers
3. Illegal aliens and other welfare tit-suckers and their “advocates”
4. Wealthy communists, aka “progressives”.

tommy cranston
tommy cranston
11 years ago

“The USA is NOT Greece.”
You’re right!
Unlike pygmy-sized Greece NO ONE can bail out the world’s biggest economy.
Progressives-The Dumbest Show On Earth.

SourGrapes
SourGrapes
11 years ago

Hey Mister Sour Grapes,aka Justin. Wow, your ability to sum up everyone else and their motives are amazing at the least. I’ve summed you up. A person who always wants to buck the system no matter what because socially, you’ve never been accepted. You stand on the fringe casting intellectual insults with your fancy words and believe that you know best. The people voted in Tiverton. It’s their town to do what they want…. not for you to later question it, or to decide those bums don’t know what the hell they’re doing. I can assure you that there are many that have much more world experience than you that voted the TCC down. Now run home to mommy and tell her that you’re being picked on again.

Rasputin
Rasputin
11 years ago

Justin,
What happened? I thought regionalization was a bad thing and that local government was better because it’s easier to control. How much control do the good guys down there in Tiverton have? Apparently not much.
HEre’s the thing, local government is a bad thing in times of apathy because special interests have a much easier time mobilizing their forces to influence it.
There’s a reason why federal employees have weaker benefits than state and local employees nationwide. It’s easy to influence a council or mayoral election. It’s even easier to influence a town council election of town meeting.
It’s hard(er) to influence a presidential or congressional election.
Are you slowly starting to get this yet?

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

Everyone likes it when they’re holding the government gun. It’s fun to turn it on other people and play king for a while, forcing them to do your bidding and calling it fair. But a wise person knows that violence begets violence and all good things come to an end.
Over time, the meanest, most selfish gangs with the most to gain will wrestle the government gun from other more peaceful, non-interventionist people. Or maybe just steal it while they’re sleeping. This is what has happened in Tiverton and the best thing you could possibly do is leave, because they will never give the government gun up at this point without a dirty fight that will leave everyone broken and battered.

trip
trip
11 years ago

What hapened in Tiverton was that informed people came out to vote. One side of the issue won and is happy, the other side lost an is angry. It wasn’t the unions or teachers it was the people. Plain and simple. The Tc needs to stop complaining and start to think about how they represent themselves. For instance, Jim Odell and Caron cheering,jeering and name calling and Jou Souza blogging in the TccName with name calling and ruthless attacks)

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

Wrong, SourGrapes and Trip. Dead wrong.
The government tax gun has been taken over in Tiverton by a gang of bad managers (aka, elected officials) and greed-heads who don’t know when to stop sucking the marrow from the bone and who employed the usual RI teacher union scare tactics over the last couple of weeks to get the last drop and then some.
Prove me wrong. Show how this gang was justified in implementing an 8% tax hike when the Tiverton population is level or falling, school enrollment has been dropping for years, teachers are in the top 20% pay bracket nationally (and pay noting realistic towards their health care), student achievement is in the bottom 20% and a bad recession has caused private sector revenue to drop significantly for at least two years.

trip
trip
11 years ago

Monique, you are not from Tiverton and seem so enamoured of the Katzman and the TCC crowd that clearly they could do no wrong in your eyes. They were justified in implementing the tax increase because a majority of the residents in the town voted for it. It really is that simple. I know you would like to blame it on the union but you really should blame alot of it on the way the TCC talked and acted during the run up to these meetings. The group promoted itself as the stewards of the town and of transparent government which proved to be far from the truth.

Rasputin
Rasputin
11 years ago

Justin,
I’m still waiting for you to justify your impulse towards a belief in local government.
I don’t ask you this to be combative, but I ask because you’re an intelligent guy, but for some reason seem to believe in local government even though it always seems to be the most corupt.
Are you beginning to lose faith yet?

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

Trip, I listed half a dozen solid reasons why Tiverton officials were not justified in raising taxes. As you chose not to address any of them and, instead, tried to change the subject to something that you made up whole cloth, you have validated my point: there simply was no justification for raising property taxes by 8% in Tiverton.

trip
trip
11 years ago

Monique, the reason they raised taxes is because the people voted for it. Is that plain and simple enough for you? What are the facts that I made up whole cloth? I live in this town and many people who may have voted in favor of the TCC plan have been disgusted by the words and action of some TCC members, not to mention the lack of transparency that they showed this year and last. If you were local you would have read the diatribes and nasty innuendos posted by a blogger on the
eastbay pages in the name of the TCC. I have spoken to many people who state that they do not trust the TCC leaders. You may not like it but it is the truth.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“They were justified in implementing the tax increase because a majority of the residents in the town voted for it.”
Trip, what magical world do you live in where if 4 out of 10 people in a room vote that 2+2=5 it is false, but if 6 out 10 people in a room vote 2+2=5 it becomes true? If 4 out of 10 people in a room vote for theft it is immoral, but if 6 out of 10 people in a room vote for it then it’s okay? It’s voodoo.
If I get a bunch of my friends together and vote that you owe me $100, will that constitute a binding agreement by which you will abide? They’ll all receive a proportionate slice, of course. Don’t worry, I’ll give you plenty of notice so you can show up and cast your own vote.
The whole system is rotten and philosophically indefensible. Minimal government is the only way. Courts, cops, and roads, nothing else. We don’t need the government to education our kids. The madness will only stop when we stop trying to wrestle away the government gun and chuck it into the river.

trip
trip
11 years ago

Dan, I live in the world where if you lose you work harder to try to implement your idea next year. The TCC lost this vote. Next year they will probably win. This year that was not the case. Enough people agreed with the amendment as proposed and they voted for it. Just like last year the TCC/Budget committe won by a narrow margin. They didn’t seem to mind that nearly half the voters went against them.
Your analogy of me owing you one hundred bucks is one of the dumber ones I have seen in a while. We live in a society that is ruled by law. The process was followed and one side lost. Stop whining and start planning.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

Might makes right, eh, Trip?
You must not be a very deep thinker to apparently just adopt whatever system you are born into without even questioning the philosophical underpinnings and ramifications of it, or at least the theoretical limits of such a system.
If you were born into 1600 England you would be lecturing me right now about Thomas Hobbes and the divine right of kings. Don’t like it? Petition the king for change.
If you were born into 1920 Russia you would be lecturing me about the plight of the proletariat. Don’t like it? Speak to your party officials.
One of the reasons why corrupt, oppressive, self-interested systems can perpetuate themselves is because there is always a never-ending supply of people like you who fear change and shun questioning authority i.e. good men doing nothing. As long as you have your home, your job, your car, etc. you’re happy.
If you ever do free yourself of your self-imposed mental slavery and at least question the morality of majoritarian rule, I will be here, happy to discuss whatever you would like with you.

trip
trip
11 years ago

So Dan the rule of the majority is now somehow a bad thing because your side did not get what it wanted. My point to you is that each and every person in our society can change the system if they want. If the TCC and more generally the people of Tiverton are not happy after this year, they will make changes by voting and electing people that they feel represent their interests. This is really quite different from 1920’s Russia and the England of old. We have the right to vote and that is how we can change things.They did not have those rights in the places you mentioned. So again your analogy lacks any real thought. As for questioning authority, as a liberal thinker I have been doing that in many ways through out my entire life. It seems as though you are the one who is questioning democracy and looking for a system in which the few can rule over the many if they think they know better.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Trip,
You make two factually incorrect statements:
1. The process was not followed. Both the law and the Division of Municipal Finance regulations concerning the tax cap were undone by a last-minute email correspondence from a brand new division head.
2. “A majority of the residents in the town” did not vote for a tax increase. The great majority didn’t care enough one way or another to show up for the meeting. My point, with this post, is that there’s a natural imbalance in who cares enough, favoring those whose compensation packages approach six figures and their friends and families.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Rasputin,
Sheesh. Give a working man some time to get the sawdust out of his hair….
I note that you argue thus:

It’s easy to influence a council or mayoral election. It’s even easier to influence a town council election of town meeting.
It’s hard(er) to influence a presidential or congressional election.

That doesn’t tell us easier for whom. If it’s easier for a union to influence a local election, it’s easier for a taxpayer group to do so, as well. I’d argue, further, that broader issues (as with the federal government) will tend to attract the attention of general interests, while special interests have proven able to sate their appetites on the local and state levels.
Until recently. As we force issues up the scale, the special interests will adjust accordingly.

Trip
Trip
11 years ago

Justin, more people showed up at this meeting and voted than last year when TCC acted as though a great victory had been one and a mandate had been given by the people. I guess all the teachers live in the town and everyone of them somehow managed to show up and vote as a single minded entity. If what you say is true then I guess things are not bad enough to get everyone involved.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“So Dan the rule of the majority is now somehow a bad thing because your side did not get what it wanted.”
No, it was always a bad thing. A majority of people voting for something does not make it right and never has.
“My point to you is that each and every person in our society can change the system if they want.”
No, that is false. One individual in our society has no power whatsoever to change the system because it is dependent upon majority rule.
“If the TCC and more generally the people of Tiverton are not happy after this year, they will make changes by voting and electing people that they feel represent their interests. This is really quite different from 1920’s Russia and the England of old.”
Wow, my point with those examples went right over your head, didn’t it? Please go back and read what I wrote more carefully and ask someone else to explain the analogy to you if you still don’t understand it. I’ll give you a hint: Do you really believe you would have arrived at the idea of Democracy independently if you had lived during the time periods I mentioned?
“It seems as though you are the one who is questioning democracy and looking for a system in which the few can rule over the many if they think they know better.”
False, that is the liberal worldview. As a libertarian, I want exactly the opposite – a system in which nobody can rule over anybody else unless they have harmed somebody, regardless of popularity.

trip
trip
11 years ago

Yes Dan your analogies went right over my head. I had some smart friends read them and they thought they did not make any sense as well. One of those readers is a math professor and certified genius, the other are just regular guys like me. I really don’t understand why it matters if I would have arrived at the idea of democracy independently. What does that have to do with anything? I didn’t invent the idea but I enjoy the practice of it.

trip
trip
11 years ago

Yes Dan your analogies went right over my head. I had some smart friends read them and they thought they did not make any sense as well. One of those readers is a math professor and certified genius, the other are just regular guys like me. I really don’t understand why it matters if I would have arrived at the idea of democracy independently. What does that have to do with anything? I didn’t invent the idea but I enjoy the practice of it.

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