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Tea Time at the Capitol

Steve Buckstein
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Tea Time at the Capitol

February 17, 2010

By Steve Buckstein

Monday was President’s Day. Schools were out, and many people had the day off. It was the perfect day for Oregonians upset with their state government to come to Salem and let their voices be heard.

And heard they were. Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works held back-to-back rallies on the steps of the State Capitol that together saw hundreds of activists and concerned citizens march, hold signs and listen to a bevy of speakers.

The theme was best summed up as “Taxed Enough Already” – the acronym for the emerging tea party movement here and around the country. Oregonians upset with the legislature’s tax and spending increases showed up to tell their lawmakers that enough is enough. Many of the lawmakers who agree with them came to the Capitol steps to side with the demonstrators.

I was asked to speak at both rallies, telling the crowds that they shouldn’t let lawmakers get away with passing new taxes on the grounds that “taxation is the price we pay for a civilized society.” I explained that the opposite is closer to the truth; that a truly civilized society would find more voluntary ways to meet each other’s needs rather than resorting to forced tax collections.* I suggested that when legislators tell Oregonians that some new tax is the price for a civilized society, the response should be that we can’t afford any more of their so-called civilization.

Persuasion versus Force

Steve Buckstein is founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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