by Jon Coupal | Sacramento

In communities across the nation, taxpayers are standing tall, gaining  strength by reaching out to each other, and becoming a major force for  the protection of our constitutional liberties.

This is the type of movement Howard Jarvis hoped would carry on long  after his 1978 Proposition 13 revolution.  In his book, I’m Mad as Hell  he stated “The message of Proposition 13 and its aftermath was clear:  People can collectively effect change in the public interest, if only  they get mad enough, and if their anger is rational and justified.   People who want to do something don’t have to wait for somebody else to  lead them: Americans can do things for themselves.”

Howard knew from experience what citizens can accomplish.  In 1978,  anger over high taxes, especially property taxes that were forcing  people from their homes, erupted in an epic battle between average  taxpayers and the entrenched forces of California government, including  their special interest allies and government employee unions.  When the  smoke had cleared, Proposition 13, which limited annual increases in  property taxes and required a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to  increase state taxes, passed with over 65 percent of the vote.

Politicians across the nation were shocked. Even President Carter  acknowledged at a press conference that he heard the message.  Howard  Jarvis, the father of Proposition 13, became a national symbol of tax  revolt. He was on the cover of Time and was runner-up for their “Man of  the Year.”

In short, Howard was the quintessential expert on tax protest.  And he  would be extremely proud of the citizens who are now speaking out and  taking action to protest high taxes and government intrusion into their  lives.

He would be encouraging. “Everyone knows twenty or thirty people who  will work with them,” he would say, while stressing that people did not  have to wait for leadership, they could lead themselves.

Howard was also a realist. He acknowledged that volunteer organizations  are hard to hold together. He said, “We fought very hard and managed to  sell the idea of loyalty and unity among ourselves,” adding, “We told  our tax fighters to hang tight because we knew that numbers gave us  political clout.”

Whether they know it or not, many are already following Howard’s  advice.  On April 15 of this year, I had the privilege of addressing  thousands of Tea Party protesters on the steps of the State Capitol.

The crowd responded enthusiastically when I read to them the Declaration  of Taxpayer Rights based on the writings of Thomas Jefferson and the  work of Howard Jarvis. It has been signed by thousands of Californians.

We the people of the State of California declare that all taxpayers are  endowed with certain unalienable rights; that among these are the right  to limited taxation, the right to vote on tax increases and the right of  economical, equitable and efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

Those of us at the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association believe that we  can have the kind of government structure we want, if we are willing to  work for it. Individuals should not think they have to do everything  themselves, or that they have to do it alone.  Each of us can take small  steps.  Go to city council meetings, or school board meetings.  If you  are an expert on something, use your expertise to advance the cause of  freedom.  And if you do nothing else, urge your friends and neighbors to  vote and to vote responsibly.

By combining with others, we taxpayers are becoming mighty. Now is the  time to make extra effort to establish and protect our rights.  Some are  already taking that extra step.  Whatever you call yourself — tax  protester, tea party activist, or defender of freedom — if you are  taking responsible action to return our state and nation to a system  where government serves its citizens rather than the other way around,  then Howard Jarvis would be proud of you and so are we at his namesake  organization. CRO

copyright 2010 Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Jon Coupal is an attorney and president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest taxpayer organization with offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like