Liberty is worth fighting and dying for. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” In 2003 Congress used this quotation as the foundation for the Benjamin Franklin True Patriot Act, an Act which was written to preserve our civil liberties but which never became law. Because America is still the home of the brave, protecting our liberties remains an essential American principle worthy of risking both life and treasure.
Those who participated in the Boston Tea Party understood full well that they were risking their lives in order to protest taxation without representation in the British Parliament. Rather than being guided by fear, they allowed themselves to be guided by the principle of liberty. Their actions became the precursor to war against the most powerful nation on earth at the time. Nevertheless, they believed the principle that no one should ever be taxed without having some kind of representation was worth fighting for and even dying for. Even after the American Revolutionary War, our founding fathers had no idea if the free economy they fought for would even survive. Their economy not only survived, but it gave rise to the greatest nation the earth has ever known.
Unfortunately, today far too many Americans are motivated by fear rather than by principle. Working as a Nebraska State Senator I have seen this all too often. Instead of fighting for what is right, good or fair, far too many Americans today are driven by fear, and such fear infringes upon our liberties.
Recently I have been touring Nebraska and promoting the consumption tax at town hall meetings. One of the questions I almost always get at these town hall meetings has to do with potential revenue shortfalls for the State of Nebraska should the consumption tax ever become law. Skeptics worry that making drastic changes to our tax code might result in the State not getting enough money to pay its bills. While this is a legitimate question to ask, Nebraskans can no longer afford to let these kinds of fears motivate us.
Nebraskans now find themselves in the same predicament that Californians found themselves in back in the 1970’s when property taxes were out of control and people were losing their homes. In the spirit of the Boston Tea Party, California voters took matters into their own hands and passed Proposition 13 on June 6, 1978. Proposition 13 capped property taxes at 2 percent of a home’s value in 1976 and reduced the property tax burden by 57 percent, according to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Association. When a home sells in California today, the property gets reassessed at 1 percent of the new market value with a 2 percent yearly cap placed on the new assessment. As a direct result of Proposition 13, California’s economy absolutely exploded! In the years following Proposition 13 California led the nation in personal income growth, employment growth, and real estate appreciation.
If we were able to climb into a Delorean-style time machine and travel back to California to the days leading up to June 6, 1978, you would not have believed that California’s economy would have taken off and grown so rapidly in the way that it did. The messages plastered on billboards, heard over the radio waves, and watched on television sets were mostly negative messages of doom and gloom for the State of California if voters dared to actually pass Proposition 13. Nearly every state agency predicted that the sky would fall in California. In fact, the school teachers were so upset after Proposition 13 passed that they took the playground balls away from their students and blamed it on the parents for voting for Proposition 13.
Contrary to these nay-sayers, I want you to know that the Beacon Hill Institute has completed the most comprehensive dynamic study of its kind for the consumption tax in Nebraska, and that study shows that we can implement a consumption tax in Nebraska and be revenue neutral. In other words, we would get all the revenue we need to run the State through my bill for the consumption tax. Moreover, we could do it without collecting a single dime of property taxes, personal and corporate income taxes, sales taxes, and inheritance taxes. And, if we do this, Nebraska’s economy will absolutely explode!