With local progressives’ lashing out and attempting an overt Saul Alinsky ploy to tar me as the cause of lost basic services in Tiverton, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to moral culpability. A couple of days ago, I suggested that groups that are acting in the interest of their communities position themselves so that good policy benefits them politically, while the hurt-the-taxpayers faction currently in power in my town are pushing bad policy with the expectation that it will be good for them politically. Objectively, one must admit that raises the questions of intention and blame and who is responsible if standing up for good policy nonetheless has adverse effects for political reasons.
At the moment, Tiverton is awaiting the judgment of its Town Council as to whether it will follow the lead of the town’s Budget Committee and attempt to inflict pain on residents by eliminating the curbside trash pickup to which we’re accustomed as a basic service. Through founding member Robert Coulter, the Tiverton Taxpayers Association (TTA) has released a statement that cuts right to the questions I just mentioned:
If the Town Council follows through with the Budget Committee’s threat and breaks its contract with Patriot Disposal, maybe voters will “learn the lesson” that angry insiders want to teach them… or maybe instead we’ll remember this stunt when the officials who are supposed to represent voters are up for reelection in less than five months from now. Maybe, too, we’ll decide to take back the new trash fee through additional tax reductions at next year’s FTR. After all, the Budget Committee left over $2 million in alternatives on the table.
The statement is clear that the TTA would prefer a different outcome — one in which the Town Council continues the job that the Budget Committee started and then abandoned, accommodating voters’ will in the way that causes the least amount of disruption. Still, when the budget season comes back around next year, if taxpayers are paying a new trash fee, they may very well decide that it ought to be an even exchange taken out of the tax bill of the following year.
No doubt the angry radicals in town will respond by attempting (or at least threatening) to kill another of the services that they hold hostage, but that will be, once again, on them, not on voters who pursue the necessary policy of long-term tax relief. Standing firm against abuse is one of the most fundamentally good policies.