Jon Coupal- Columnist
is an attorney and president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers
Association -- California's largest taxpayer organization with
offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento. [go to website] [go
to Coupal index]
George and the Rose Parade
arrogance of the anti-taxpayers...
[Jon Coupal] 1/9/04
Who are they? If you like old Humphrey Bogart movies, they
be labeled as the "usual suspects" who
believe themselves superior to productive, taxpaying members
of society. They consist of most -- but certainly not all --
politicians and bureaucrats. They are those who receive their
paychecks courtesy of ordinary citizens who rarely receive as
generous compensation -- including huge benefit packages -- for
their work. The anti-taxpayers also have an extraordinary sense
Speaking of entitlement,
the anti-taxpayers also include those on the public dole in
all its manifestations. Welfare, subsidies,
grants, free tuition, free medical assistance or other benefits
are typical of those who have a vested interest in sustained
or expanded government programs. Direct money transfers are not
necessary as anti-taxpayers also include the "extended infrastructure" of
government. These are corporations for which contracts and business
relationships with government comprise the greatest share of
their enterprise. Although such businesses are technically in
the "private" sector, their lifeblood is taxpayer dollars.
The construction companies which give vast amounts of campaign
contributions to bond measures calling for school and highway
construction are merely hoping for a good return on their investment
Finally, the anti-taxpayers
also include many elites. Persons who are very wealthy but
have lost touch -- assuming they ever
had it in the first place -- with ordinary working class citizens.
A sprinkling of high tech billionaires and the majority of those
in the entertainment industry who are politically active are
in this category. They can blithely advocate higher taxes with
such arguments that "it would only be the cost of a latte
a day" without knowing that most people drink coffee, not
Many anti-taxpayers object to the characterizations above as
divisive and simplistic. After all, they will argue that they
are taxpayers too. Perhaps. But their interests and status as
net tax receivers far outweighs their interests and status as
a net tax payers.
Besides, we've heard this all before. A common complaint against
Howard Jarvis was that his rhetoric was both inflammatory and
simplistic. The other side of that coin, however, is that the
majority of taxpayers -- those paying the bills -- appreciated
both the strength of his advocacy and clarity he brought to public
issues of the day. Howard's popularity was measured at the ballot
box on several occasions.
The ballot box is, of course, the taxpayers' best ally. While
focused special interests are able to turn out large protests
at the State Capitol, working families can rarely take a day
off to protest the follies of government. When community colleges
are threatened, thousands of teachers and students will protest.
The same is true for those on welfare when their programs are
threatened. But what are taxpayers supposed to do? Protest every
day? Paid and unpaid advocates for more government spending are
legion. Advocates for less government are few and far between.
Thus, the anti-taxpayers are shocked when voters reject the status
quo on election day.
But there is one characteristic of the anti-taxpayers that shines
above all others. It is arrogance. And it manifests itself on
a daily basis. Recently, City of Los Angeles officials engaged
in scare tactics in response to their budgetary problems, including
the potential loss of car tax revenues. They repeatedly threatened
public safety cuts that would endanger the entire city and lead
to devastating impacts. At the same time, they approved $175,000
on building a float for the 2004 Tournament of Roses Parade.
The anti-taxpayers believe that taxpayers are too stupid or
are simply not paying attention to have an impact on the way
we are being governed. They are poor students of history. Rise
to Rebellion, a wonderful book by talented author Jeff Shaara,
recounts the events leading up to the American Revolution from
the perspective of key figures on both sides. A common theme
is how the British government so grossly underestimated the frustration
and anger of the colonists.
Will history repeat itself? Maybe it has already started. California's
recent recall of its governor may be the Lexington and Concord
of a new war. There is no doubt that King George III was the
quintessential anti-taxpayer. Unfortunately, his philosophical
progeny populate the Golden State in vast numbers. It is going
to be a long campaign.
2004 Howard Jarvis Taxpayers association