“One man of courage makes a majority.”
Andrew Jackson, quoted in John F. Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage.”
In these recent pages it was written that tax increases are good, and deserve, in effect, a complimentary chapter in JFK’s “Profiles in Courage” for any politician who votes for more of them. Perhaps this was also meant to cast a spell of reflected glory over the rubber stamping of repetitive tax increases, displayed by our own Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante and Congressman John Tierney. Baffling, isn’t it?
When I was a Democrat, and John F. Kennedy my boyhood hero, I re-read his book often. I wish I could find my dog-eared copy. However, I don’t remember that any of the senators profiled there were praised for tax increases. Rather, the subjects of each chapter were praised for having had the courage to stand apart from their powerful colleagues, voting their own consciences against strong peer pressure.
Incidentally, didn’t JFK himself lower taxes in 1962? To “Get America Moving Again?” Here are some words from a speech he gave then:
“The federal government’s most useful role is not to rush into a program of excessive increases in public expenditures, but to expand the incentives and opportunities of private expenditures. ... When consumers purchase more goods, plants use more of their capacity, men are hired instead of laid off, investment increases, and profits are high. Corporate tax rates must also be cut to increase incentives and the availability of investment capital.”
Nevertheless, for decades, since Lyndon B. Johnson’s grandiose founding of a “Great Society” (to accompany his disastrous Vietnam War escalation), one hears time after time how courage and statesmanship are noble qualities displayed by sponsors of repeated tax increases. Isn’t it true that these very increases have depressed our economy? And, more personally, don’t so many families’ tax burdens now also make it impossible for one adult to decently support a spouse and their young, allowing a father or mother to be at home with little children? Also, please notice Barack Obama’s new health care taxes, fines and red tape that are throttling crucially needed new employment, on Cape Ann as well as everywhere else.
Sadly, basic laws of economics are not political trifles. Where could courage, statesmanship and independent political judgment actually be applied today, to strengthen our economy? Would it not be found where any member of our dominant Massachusetts political machine might actually cast a vote against more taxes — and, instead, to incentivize small- and medium-sized businesses; contractors; craftsmen and -women; freelance professionals; fishermen; store, restaurant and gallery owners; in a word, all of us ordinary working people, who seek full-time work consistently, and perhaps wish to hire each other, or new folks, as our own work and businesses begin to grow?
In such a renewed Gloucester, across all of Cape Ann and throughout America, too, shouldn’t we and our new generations feel the same hope and energy that my grandparents felt, when they crossed an ocean to live and work here, earning their place in our then-free society?
My immigrant grandparents’ hope was not just for present gain, it was for an ever-better life for each new generation — their own and our whole society’s, too. They wanted to live in a place where authority didn’t block their dreams or take what was fairly theirs.
Wasn’t that also the vision of our founders, the great Constitutional Framers? And, oh, yes, didn’t their (our) Revolution have something to do with an escape from excessive taxes and interference, and from an arrogant, unresponsive government?
May we remind our Representative Ferrante and Congressman Tierney that President John F. Kennedy understood that courageous achievement, perfectly?
Michael David Rubin writes from Warner Street in Gloucester.