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Travis Rowley: Religion First

Saturday, January 26, 2013


And, this week, we learn that two Statehouse Democrats, Rep. James McLaughlin and Sen. William Walaska, are introducing a bill that “aims to reduce [the] minimum corporate tax.”

That’s right. For the distinct privilege of setting up shop in the worst business climate in the country (a condition caused by government), Rhode Island business owners are forced to pay the state government $500 a year – whether they turn a profit or not. Similar to “tolls” and “fees” – often justified by liberals by pointing out the cost of bridges and bureaucracy – that are tacked on to an already-bloated tax structure, the minimum corporate tax is one of those government bills that makes productive citizens wonder what their other taxes pay for, if not basic government services.

Following a long line of members of the tax-and-spend party who have also turned to conservative measures, McLaughlin and Walaska are “sponsoring a bill that would reduce the state's minimum corporate tax from $500 to $250.”

“If this legislation is passed, it will give Rhode Island a strong competitive advantage over Massachusetts and other states…Our smaller businesses are getting slammed with this $500 minimum and it's placing a barrier in front of potential start-ups,” McLaughlin remarked. Walaska states, “Many of my constituents think the $500 minimum corporation tax is unfair, especially while the state is still in economic recovery … Looking at the big picture, it’s also just another area in which Rhode Island is at a disadvantage compared to our neighboring states. We keep hearing that we’re not business friendly. It’s time we take more measures to rectify that.”

One might wonder what ever caused Democrats to impose this tax in the first place.

True Leadership

But at least the imposition of a tax on business owners is consistent with liberal philosophy. After all, “you didn’t build that.” It’s actually more confusing whenever Democrats fight to reverse their own policies.

We’ve seen these flashes of fiscal conservatism before. In 2005 the Democratic General Assembly voted to cut the highest state income tax rate in half (incrementally, and with the removal of certain deductions, of course). Last year on Channel 12 Newsmakers House Speaker Gordon Fox actually rejected the concept of “stimulus” and an “artificial economy,” arguing, “Basically, I think government has to do its role of creating those conditions where businesses can thrive.” And last week we saw Rhode Island’s progressive governor call for a reduction of the state corporate tax, from nine percent to seven percent.

These are the very expressions of capitalism that Republicans are traditionally demeaned as “greedy” and “selfish” for recommending. Republicans are “only for the rich,” according to Democrats, as they mock their conservative rivals for believing in “trickle-down economics.”

While we often witness these virtual admissions of the superiority of Republican arguments, we never see Democrats embrace the ideology that spawns them. This is the true pity. Because, ultimately, this is what Rhode Island needs – a declaration of belief.

True leadership commands a clear exhibition of values. And Rhode Island needs someone to step forward, commit to a faith in limited government and individual freedom, and then set policies that reflect the new religion.

Set the core ideology in place. The policies will follow.

Rhode Islanders should prefer this type of leadership over those who speak of “fair shares” and “everyone being in this together,” only to sporadically decide to enact policies more consistent with individualism.

The Middle Way

In a state controlled by Democrats, we cannot even hope for ideological or moral clarity. With their party steered by a political base of unionists and progressive activists, we instead get corner-nibbling reforms that offer credence to conservative policies – but never go far enough, and only surface when communities come nose-to-nose with economic reality.

Exhibit One: Cutting the minimum corporate tax in half. If the purpose is to alleviate the pressure on Ocean State business owners, why not eliminate the tax entirely?

It’s because Democrats are not guided by religion or principles, but political expediency. While Democrats are caught in the middle of a tug-of-war between their radical base and fiscal sanity, State House Republicans are calling for the total elimination of the state sales tax.

Is this the action of dangerous right-wing ideologues? Or is this the principled stance of those who see the pointlessness of the Democrats’ middle way?

In addition to reductions in tax rates that merely make us more competitive with “our neighboring states,” even Treasurer Gina Raimondo’s “hybrid” pension reform that relies on a rate of return of 7.5 percent – while considered “landmark” – qualifies as a Democratic half-measure (the state pension fund “earned just 1.4 percent in fiscal 2012”).

While it’s true that some elected Democrats are of the progressive variety, many are mere hacks of political power, flying by the seat of their political pants – defying gay marriage for years, only to approve it once left-wing activists had managed to conquer public sympathy. The Left never stops marching. And the Democratic Party is always there to reward their efforts.

An Ethical Divide

It is a simple matter of observation: To a much higher degree than Democrats, Republicans – with conservatism as their core – exercise their religion, their ideology, and their principles. Democrats are much more guided by political considerations – “forgo[ing] the cheap satisfaction of the radical pose for the deep satisfaction of radical ends."'

The modern Democratic Party now lives out the radical instruction. As one member of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) once said: “The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.” Inspired by the likes of Nietzsche, Machiavelli, and Alinsky – and having mastered the politics of crisis – modern leftists have learned to politicize everything, right down to mass shootings, hot weather, and hurricanes. As Obama confidante Rahm Emanuel now puts it: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

Republicans – still dominated by a base of Christian conservatives accused of taking their religion way too seriously – have this pesky commandment from God that instructs them not to lie, and a Savior who challenges them to seek and revere the truth. Ultimately, yes, this is why conservatives find it so difficult to take the advice of political consultants who tell them to abandon the “social issues.” Forsaking the 2nd Amendment, the rule of law on the border, the value of life, and a belief in traditional marriage is not an option for people who value the truth over political victory, or even the survival of their country.

Yes, Republicans are religious – in the best possible sense of the word.

What do Democrats believe in?

Power. Power above all things. Once one understands the leftist ethic, Democratic behavior comes into focus.

Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is the author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.


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I find that this is all true. The left is vicious, and most otherwise conservative people are too nice, too naive and too oblivious to what progressives are after. When you compromise with a communist, you allow him to take you one step closer to communism. The average person doesn't see what's happening.

Comment #1 by Gip H. on 2013 01 26

And the truth shall set us free. I just don't know when, but hope does spring eternal. Keep up the good work Travis. You give me hope.

Comment #2 by peter hewett on 2013 01 26

True, why do this half-measure of reducing the $500 minimum corporate tax. Be bold, and eliminate it. There is no doubt that such a move would stimulate entrepreneurial start-ups.

With further tax and regulation reductions we could start to lure smart people down from the Boston area.

I think that there are Democrats in the GA who would support this if they were not cowed by the union bosses and the very visible progressive activists. People with common sense need to speak up.

Comment #3 by Art West on 2013 01 26

Travis, thanks for another well defended perspective. I was truly encouraged by the sensible pro growth sentiments of Gordon Fox and would be happy to help any move in that direction,.
MG Riley

Comment #4 by michael riley on 2013 01 26

Conservatives had a hard time "listening" to Karl Rove. Yeah, that's the ticket. Please.

Comment #5 by Jonathan Flynn on 2013 01 26

I'm not sure I understand your comment, Mr. Jonathan Flynn. Could you explain what you mean? Honestly, I don't know what you're referencing, or how your comment responds to this article.

Anyone else?

Comment #6 by Gip H. on 2013 01 26

They listen to political consultants. Karl Rove was Mr. Compassionate Conservative. Have you blacked out the Bush years because you were in power and screwed up nearly everything?

Comment #7 by Jonathan Flynn on 2013 01 26

And Mr. H. I guess you're related to a good chunk of the phone book. All the H's must have a good time at the holiday dinner. Another fraud posting behind a front. Shame on you and your kind. GoLocal might not be GoLoco if everyone couldn't hide behind a front. At least Pearl, uses her own name I think. And, though I disagree with everything she says, I respect her.

Comment #8 by Jonathan Flynn on 2013 01 26

I'm still not sure how Karl Rove has anything to do with this article. Or even the fact that republicans listen to political consultants. Why did you bring this up? What prompted it? Seriously, I can't figure it out.

My last name is Harris. Not sure how that's relevant either. Do you respect me now? Aren't we down here to discuss ideas objectively, not make judgments based on names, titles, labels, etc? Although, that is the leftist way.....to discredit people based on labels.

Comment #9 by Gip H. on 2013 01 27

My Savior said that too but I didn't see it in your article.

Comment #10 by Petr Petrovich on 2013 01 27

Amen. Amen. I say to thee. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Comment #11 by Petr Petrovich on 2013 01 27

Another strange comment, this time by Petr Petrovich. What is the relevance? Is this just sarcasm? Where are the thoughtful liberals? Extinct?

Comment #12 by Gip H. on 2013 01 27

It merely demonstrates that, once again, religion is brought into the fray. It is usually quoted only when it supports some remote proposition that dovetails with a political philosophy. The point is that for every use of some religious quote, any reasonably fluent christian can find one that contradicts the first. I don't understand Travis' ultimate premise. It is reasonably clear what a conservatives goal is, but if a liberal's goal is power then what is a liberal's use of that power? To give away the farm? To promote socially unacceptable situations? Enlighten me? If Travis is telling me to leave unto Caesar what is Caesar's, then argue government. Maybe use the constitution or public policy? Whenever a meaningful discussion ensues, I am forced to remember my catachismic teachings. Really?

Comment #13 by Petr Petrovich on 2013 01 27

It is true that Republicans exercise their religion, ideology and values more than "liberals". Those issues must be compared to the Consitution and public policy. Although your relegion, ideology and values are concrete and absolute, I don't know a single Constitutional madate that is absolute. That is why the the application of what you think is right, doesn't necessarily make it right. It is right to you, but not necessarily to the principles of this government. We have measures to determine what is right built right into the Constitution. Checks and balances sucks, but it is better than any other form of government.

Comment #14 by Petr Petrovich on 2013 01 27

I think all Rowley is saying is that conservatives are more honest and decent than liberals, while liberals tend to be more politically calculating, and more open to moral relativity. He only cited Christianity to bolster his argument >>> the charge that Republicans are "religious" >>> Rowley responds, "Yes! Absolutely. We don't lie."

Comment #15 by Gip H. on 2013 01 27

Good point Gip.

Comment #16 by Petr Petrovich on 2013 01 27

There's nothing wrong with being religious, but we desperately need to re-focus on the simple principle that we are a country with a Constitution and Amendments, and that personal religious principles promoted by churches have absolutely no place in laws that govern the issuance of licenses and government-provided privileges for relationships between consenting adults, especially in a country where EVERYONE has the unalienable right to the freedom of choosing religion, and the freedom from religious tyranny (when religion is imposed into laws that govern all citizens). That's where many so-called "conservatives" keep getting it wrong. The church has NO business involving itself the making of laws that interfere with the rights, freedoms and liberties of all citizens - the 1st Amendment expressly forbids that.

Comment #17 by Russ Hryzan on 2013 01 28

Russ, The first amendment was never intended to keep religion out of government. It was always intended to keep the government from enacting any laws respecting the establishment of religion or infringing upon the people’s free exercise of their own religious beliefs and practices. There is a huge difference.
Obamacare is a recent glaring example of the federal government enacting a law that mandates compliance and imposes punishment for non-compliance with provisions that constitute an infringement of some organizations and people’s religious beliefs and practices.
Please help me out. Give an example of any religion or religious group imposing its will, beliefs or practices on any state or federal government.

Comment #18 by peter hewett on 2013 01 28

Obamacare is a lot more than just a problem religiously - it's a law that forces (under threat of tax/fine) the purchase of a product by US Citizens. I could go on for days about how wrong that whole concept is, but that's not the issue at hand.

With regard to marriage equality - the issue in question is not a religious one. Nobody goes to church to get a marriage license - everyone goes to the government, the same government that issues drivers licenses, businesses licenses, etc etc. Our government issues licenses for adult entertainment establishments, even though patronizing those types of establishments are against the religious views of many. Our government issues licenses and approvals for drug companies to manufacture and sell birth control/contraception, even though use of that type of medication goes against some people's religious beliefs. The important lesson - religion can enact rules on it's members, but because we have freedom of religion, we have the ability not to be governed by the beliefs of churches.

The same goes with marriage. We go to the government to get marriage licenses. It's a government-issued license, and the religious blessing and ceremony is up to the church, that that's it. Period. In the end, it's still a government-issued license that comes with many privileges.

Because of the fact that it is a government-issued license/privilege, we can not allow the government to discriminate against 2 consenting adults because somebody or some religion doesn't believe in it - the same way people of Orthodox Jewish churches can't block a restaurant license from being issued because the license holder intends to serve non-kosher food, nor can a Muslim group push for a law demanding all women wear head scarves to cover their faces. We are a country of religious freedom 100% of the time without having to be actually governed by the rules of a specific religion(see the "establishment clause" in the 1st Amendment), not just when it's convenient for one religion to want to force their views and beliefs on others.

Comment #19 by Russ Hryzan on 2013 01 28

I read Travis' articles all the time and when the topic is limited to taxes, corruption, inefficient government and the Rhode Island business climate, I agree with Travis. However his credibility with me begins to fall when the topic involves religion, or creating generalizations about any groups. I feel like once someone does that they have lost focus from the original topic and now we are talking about labels. Always very disappointing when he does this.

Comment #20 by Just Thinking on 2013 01 28

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