Dear Fellow Republican,
This e-mail will be largely given over to publishing some of the numerous responses I have received from respondents. I have allowed them to stack up and therefore have more on hand than is practical to publish all at once. So I will save some for the next issue.
I encourage you to continue to write. And when you do please let me know your wishes regarding the publication of your message. In the absence of anything to the contrary I assume that you have no objection to publication without your name, and as you will have noticed most letters have been with the names withheld. However it's always a stronger letter if the name is published, so when you are comfortable doing so please indicted that I have your permission to use your name.
I promised in my last letter that you would hear from former gubernatorial candidate Tim James, so his is the first letter up. And numerous will follow. Just in case you're wondering, I do not censor critical letters. The only time I would do that is if they should be very vulgar and tasteless. Below, then, the letters. And expect a like number with the next message.
Place 1, Madison County
State Executive Committee
I received a letter you wrote via Elaine Little, it may have been forwarded to me, I don't know. Anyway, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for engaging in the debate on the side of right, regardless of how unpleasant it is. There is another way to look at this situation that I would like to point out and hope that you might consider.
As you stated, Paul Hubbert is not elected by the people, he represents a union of people, teachers, janitors, bus drivers, etc. Often, we forget that his primary mission is not to be assured that children can read, in fact, his mission is not to be assured that graduating seniors on average are ready for college. That is the responsibility of the Governor, legislature, and the school boards across Alabama. His mission is clear, to fight for money, protection, and benefits for his members. It is that simple.
It is my opinion that when we rave against Hubbert as the enemy, it gives cover to the individuals that are legitimately charged with the responsibility of educating our children and deciding the amount of taxes that should or should not be levied, it takes the focus off the legislature and puts it on Paul Hubbert. It lets them off the hook. In this country, we have a freedom to assemble, we have a freedom to create economic unions, which is what AEA is. The problem is when the will of these groups supercedes what is in the public's interest as a whole, as is the case with this 15 to 20 % tax increase.
The criticism directed at Hubbert should be directed at every elected official in Montgomery that is supporting this tax increase. Paul Hubbert is Not the issue, the weak elected officials who cave into his pressure are the issue, they are the problem, Democrats and Republicans. They are the one's constitutionally charged with making the decision on how much money to extract from the people of this state and they decide how to spend it.
Paul Hubbert could leave tomorrow, another person will fill his shoes, the union will continue. The only way to fix the problem is to purge ourselves of this weak and dependent breed of politician.
Let the burden of this tax decision rest solely on the shoulders of those who asked for the responsibility of governance the first place.
As for my view , I believe a 15 to 20 percent tax increase in one swoop is bordering on ludicrous.
They say the State of Alabama's financial condition has not been this dire since the Great Depression.
I differ on this point. It is true, the economy is very soft, however, we have forgotten that in the early 80's, inflation and the prime interest rate was in excess of 20%. Now, that was tough times.
There are 2 questions that should be asked of every elected official, especially Republicans.
1. The money received in the education trust fund and the general fund in 2002 is greater than in 2001, and the projected revenue in fiscal year 2003 is projected to be higher than in 2002, so, if revenue is going up consistently, year over year, how can there be a $650 million shortfall?
2. What specifically would the $1.2 billion be spent on, if passed?
We as conservatives must demand answers to these questions, then we must ask ourselves who and what it is we want to be.
Either we go the way chosen by the liberal elite, the Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, and Mobile papers, who believe additional money extracted from taxpayers and spread throughout the masses will create some sort of an educational utopia; or we stick to our guns, hold the line on spending, demand the same level of discipline that we demand in our businesses and homes, and never compromise on core conservative principles, taxation being a bedrock.
Keep up the fight.
From Former Gubernatorial Candidate Tim James
[McInnish Comment: Tim James has obviously given this issue a lot of thought, and has made a good contribution to our discussion. He asks the right questions about the need for the proposed tax increase. He suggests that our problem is our legislators, not Paul Hubbert.
That may be true, in the sense that they are the proximate problem, but in order to correct that problem we would have to replace a majority of the present members. In military parlance, that would mean that we would be shooting at more than a hundred targets scattered widely over the state.
We don't have enough ammunition to engage such a diffuse target as that, and any plan based on this tactic is doomed to disappointment, at least in the near- to mid-term.
On the other hand, Hubbert is a point target. Concentrate our fire on him, curb him, and the whole political dynamic in the state will shift in the favorable direction. Further, the ultimate way to curb Hubbert is by siphoning off his union members in favor of alternative organizations, which are already available. That way, the union itself has its power diminished, and even if another ultra-liberal steps in to take Hubbert's place his power will be greatly diminished.]
This is only the latest insult handed to our party by RINOs. The term sticks in my throat like a rusty fish hook. The term RINO means, "Republican In Name Only". I have stated many times that two of the biggest problems we have in the Republican Party are Party Loyalty and Party Discipline. When you look at our party at the national level, you see Senators like John McCain and Jeffers and others, who constantly vote against the President and our party's position. These idiots should be publicized for what they really are, and exposed to their constituency as the turn coat, snakes who gain office talking one political orientation, only to vote in support of the opposition when they are elected. The National Republican Party must start instituting sever penalties, including expulsion, for failing to support our Parties conservative position.
Now on the state level, we must wage a war against this ridiculous activity. We must step up to the challenge and go to the State Committee and demand that such actions be addressed in a similar manner. We must go to the news media and use it to broadcast the fact that we, the true Republican party, will have nothing to do with any such tax increase. We must, if necessary, shame the Governor into re-thinking his position, or face expulsion from the party. The continued existence of our beloved party depends upon us standing up to this embarrassment in a new and resourceful way. By showing the entire voting public that we as a party, will not tolerate such activities under our banner and thus gain credibility. And if it takes casting out one of our own to prove that to them, so be it.
A Prominent Party Official
Hurrah! This is just in time. I am going to take it to the ____ Republican Club meeting tonight, and if they give me a few minutes, and I think they will, I will issue my retort using some of your ammo below.
I AM OPPOSED TO THIS ENTIRE TAX HIKE PACKAGE!
Looks like a strategic withdrawal (bypass the party, go to the people)on the part of the governor. The weekly party conference call seems to be on ice as well. How do you read this?
An Outspoken Member of the Party
All the credit for what is happening cannot be heaped on just Paul Hubbert. The Governor has selected other Democrats for key positions in the administration. As an example look at his Public Safety Director.
Why did the Governor not make an all out effort to get a $4 billion industry in Alabama? General Dynamics considered Alabama to build the Amphibious Advance Assault Vehicle in north Alabama. The General Motors gear plant in Limestone County is vacant. 700,000 square feet that could have been used to give Alabamians jobs and tax dollars to help the State. I have heard of no effort to land that prize. We need to look at the entire picture. Not just a speck.
A Man Concerned About Industrial Development
The truth about taxes is that the problem is not that we are taxed to little, the problem is that we spend too much. Unfortunately Bob Riley has been influenced too much by Paul Hubbard and the special interest groups. Like a fool, Bob Riley is providing bad leadership and is leading the Republican Party over the cliff to political diasaster. After all the bad press and negative feelings, the tax package will be defeated by a referndum. The bad feelings will be carried over into the 2004 elections and will result in wholesale defeat of the Republcian Party, which will actually be a second referendum on taxes. The Democrats were smart and have not offered and tax packages to the fiscal problems. But come election time the Democrats will point and say, those Republians tried to raise your taxes, just remember when we had a Democrat Governor, your taxes were not raised.
More taxes, means more government regulation of our lives and less freedom.
From a Real Boat-Rocker
Well, old friend, you certainly do know how to push some sensitive buttons! To read your stream of emails, this Paul Hubbert fellow is the devil incarnate of politics. Surely, we have enough men and woman of conscience in the State Legislature that they would not vote to allow some of the outrages that you have outlined, such as the expansion of the tenure system to all jobs in the education system?
I am a former teacher myself, but left the profession as a result of several factors, one of which was the relatively low pay (Hubbert seems very well funded, though), but another was working with tenured deadwood who only harmed the children under their care. The education system throughout our country is in dire need of reform. Public educators are scared to death of the voucher system introducing a results-based system that competes with them for the education dollar. As a taxpayer, I never have entirely understood why the government is even involved in the educational process. Granted, public education is a necessity, but that system has become so perverted over the years that it has lost much of its effectiveness. When I was teaching, I was strongly discouraged from failing to pass on any student, regardless of performance. The term used was "social promotion," but the end result was inadequately educated students. We've all heard the horror stories of the High School graduate who couldn't read. In my student teaching days, the students who needed help the most were allowed by the teacher to simply sleep during class, in return for not disrupting the class. Once upon a time, it was possible to put students who had poor academic skills into a variety of practical trade courses, but now most systems not only don't allow that, but have stiffened the unrealistic academic requirements to the point where a student often can't get a diploma without mastering the basics of a foreign language. How many students do we lose in the process?
Yes, we have very serious problems in virtually every educational system in the country, and many of those can be laid at the footsteps of the Paul Hubberts of the world, who are simply doing the best job they can in protecting and promoting the educational staus quo. I suspect the real long-term answer lies in privatizing the education system.
Collect educational taxes, but disburse those taxes to the non-government run schools who can do the best job with the money, to include outstanding trade schools who focus on the practical job training for those trades that will provide a good living for those students who aren't acedemically inclined, without government regulations that use cirriculum guidelines dictate what "must" be taught, and then test to make sure it was taught. There would be the basic schools that the normal slice of tax money would be sufficient to cover, but there wouold also be better shools, even "magnet schools" for special talented students. I suggest that we allow the parents to vote with their pocketbooks, in terms of the quality of the education received by their students. Government scholarships would be available for those who 's performance qualified them for a better school than their parents could normally afford.
Educators will scream "But what would happen to the public schools? We would lose much of our funding." My answer would be "Yes, as well you should." Dismantal the existing system. Sell the facilities to the highest bidders who are willing to run them as private schools. Allow the free enterprise system to fill the void. The teachers will have to perform or be fired, just like every other system or job in our nation. There is no more powerful incentive to do the best job that you are capable of.
Yes, there will invariably be elite schools, just as there have always been, but there will also be those necessary trade schools where the curriculum isn't driven by the highest potential students. There would also be, I'm sure, entire schools devoted to those students with special education needs. Throw the field open to competitive free enterprise, and eventually every niche would be filled. It should be a simple matter of supply and demand, as all of the best systems in our great country are.
Alabama's education system is in especially dire straights, as is evidenced by the existing test scores. Historically, the experts say that simply poring money at the problem has little or no effect. A motivated student with a dedicated teacher can excell in the poorest of schools. No, the root problems are in the entrenched self-serving rules that the Paul Hubberts of the world have gotten in place, but the answers lie far beyond getting rid those individuals.
Your immediate concern is obviously the health of your own state Republican party, and I admire your willingness to tolerate the resulting personal abuse by those who question your motives. But I wonder, do you have a game plan to replace what doesn't work today with something that may work tomorrow?
A healthy state political party doesn't also necessarialy mean a healthy education system for the state. Yes, it may be possible for the party to stop sucking at that poisonous teat, but how may it one day resolve the basic problems with the current Alabama school system. A Former School Teacher
Does your email get to any of Riley's staff? They need to be reading this in order to take it into account.
A Wondering Republican
[McInnish Note: A prominent member of the Governor's staff was getting these letters. However she removed herself from the list.]
Agreed. I am so offended that I will not support anything Republican that has anything to do with Riley.
A Prominent Physician
As you have speculated for some time, the loop has now closed before us on the matter of accepting campaign/party funds from AEA. Actually, the "loop" might be more appropriately termed a "noose", particularly on the necks of hard working over-taxed payers of Alabama.
On subject of Gov. Riley's tax increase, I think the words I expressed to Marty Connors in response to the invitation to the "summit" on May 31 (by the way, I realize that Marty was only the messenger in this invitation, so the shot fired was at the sender, not the messenger) expresses a counter to those who think we should support the Governor's tax increase.
Here is my RSVP to that invitation:
The wording of this notice or invitation was interpreted to read as follows:
"Come hear our newly-elected Republican governor as he attempts to SELL YOU on his proposed legislation for the largest tax increase in state history! Not only that, but he wants you to help "SELL" this idea to the rest of your friends and neighbors!"
Certainly, much blame can be given to previous administrations, especially the Siegelman one, but I can't believe otherwise than that Governor Riley knew so little about the condition of the state even during the election cycle that any of this was a surprise to him. So then, what did we accomplish in that process? Don Siegelman would not have been any faster on the "trigger" to raise taxes than Gov. Riley has been. Now, as Republicans we are postured with the task of defending such an incomprehensible deviation from our core principles.
My response is not to be taken as one that is disinterested in the matter at hand. However, there is no amount of persuasion or presentation that is going to convince me that I, or any of the other citizens of the state of Alabama (you can fill in the blank as far as I am concerned, with city of _____, county of ______, or any other jurisdiction you want to include) need to pay more taxes. The chances of me changing my mind on this matter are less than the chances of me attending one of those time-sharing or vacation home presentations and making a purchase (and the chances of that are absolutely "0"). Furthermore, the thought of me becoming a "salesman" for such a plan is even more preposterous.
Consequently, my attendance of such a summit on a Saturday in May (or any other day for that matter) would be an utter waste of my time and a good day off. Please make certain that my absence is properly interpreted, not as disinterest or apathy, but as a resounding "NO" vote on the proposition of raising my taxes, and a resounding "NO" to the notion of becoming an advocate for the same.
A Clearly Spoken Republican
I for one am disturbed that you would propose that the Republican Party oppose the governor's tax plan based solely on the power and self-interest of Mr. Hubbert. I have examined thoroughly two of the tax plan's bill and will be doing the same with others, tracking them as they come out of committee.
The way I read your message is that you are against everything just because of one bill and one powerful person. I hope you'll step back from your feelings about Mr. Hubbert and take a broader look at what is good for Alabama. My assessment is that staying the course, rejecting the governors tax plan, portends that Alabama will continue to sink in its standing compared to other states, if there is anywhere left to sink. On the other hand, the governor's tax plan will put sanity into our insane income tax code, where a poor sucker who not only doesn't pay any federal income tax but actually gets a tax credit, in turn has to pay income taxes to Alabama. A similar case of course can be made for our too-low property taxes, though the governor did not go far enough to correct the problems inherent in our current system.
Finally, as a Republican, I would urge you to not smear the Republican Party by it's association with what is an apparent vendetta you have against Mr. Hubbert.
A Dissenting Voice
According to the Governor's own website, he is claiming a saving of $230 million in the 03' and 04' fiscal years. Or an average of $115 million each year.
Recent news reports and my State Representative _____ have indicated that tax collections are up 5% this year over last year. (Have you seen this anywhere?) It is my understanding that the state collected approximately $9.3 billion ( I would assume that someone can get an accurate number; also this number excludes tax monies from the federal government). Five percent of $9.3 billion would be $465 million. If you add to that the $115 million savings claimed by the Governor, you have $580 million. Which would leave the state a mere $20 million short of the claimed $600 shortfall.
If the above figures are anywhere close to accurate, then it proves that this whole tax plan is a fraud. Am I out in left field?