Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Remembering Massachusett's Barbara Anderson

Reason has a write up on a remarkable woman who was at the forefront of reforming Taxachusetts with lessons for us all:

How did Anderson achieve her remarkable success?

Particularly refreshing in the context of the current presidential campaign is that she did it with civility. A leftist activist and radio host, Jim Braude, told the Eagle-Tribune that the two traveled the state together debating tax policy. "People find this hard to believe but we drove to every debate together," he told the paper.

She was nonpartisan. The Eagle-Tribune reports that while she "generally espoused libertarian to conservative political views," she "was not a member of any political party." That's an increasingly popular stance, and, again, in the context of the current presidential race, some might find it understandable.

She was a bottom-up person, not a top-down person. "Everything starts at the grass roots level,'' she told The New York Times for a 1985 article. "None of the important issues start at the government level."

She was not an "expert." Anderson's success disproves the idea that you need a Nobel prize or a Ph.D. in economics from some fancy university to influence the tax policy debate. Governor Weld was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa at Harvard as a junior. Governor Romney has both a J.D. and an M.B.A. from Harvard. Anderson dropped out of Penn State. Before joining Citizens for Limited Taxation part-time, she had been, by the Globe's account, working as a swim teacher and lifeguard at a YMCA.

Finally, as skeptical of big government as Anderson was, she was never cynical about the people that really matter most in a democracy—the voters and the citizen-activists. Rather than shrugging and complaining about high taxes or mediocre politicians or grinning and bearing it, she actually tried to do something to improve things, getting people to join her organization, sign petitions for ballot questions, and turn out to vote.

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