I just flew back from two back-to-back conferences. Conference #1 was the National Conference of State Legislatures, a liberal conference paid with millions of your tax dollars, where (as you can guess) the conferences highlights many ways for government to get bigger. Conference #2 was the Americans for Limited Government conference which was dedicated to restore citizen power over their government and which made the front page of today’s Oregonian.
The taxpayer funded NCSL conference was held in Nashville this year. Historically the conference has been very partisan — featuring Democrat speakers over Republican by nearly 10 to one. Under complaint NCSL began inviting more Republicans speakers, but under close examination it turned out the Republicans chosen were liberal-leaning and even had a history of donating to Democrats. Thanks to further complaints the conference has much improved. One of NCSL’s biggest projects is the nationwide streamline sales tax campaign to get all the states on the same language to better prepare for a nationwide sales tax. Yikes!!!! I tell people at the conference that Oregon doesn’t want a sales tax, and that we have rejected it nine times — but “tough-luck” responses is all I get. Nice how our tax dollars are going towards efforts to raise Oregon’s taxes.
Word at the conference was that the state of Tennessee helped kick in over a million dollars for the conference and for a massive party at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Once again your tax dollars to help fund a party for politicians (the biggest party I have ever witnessed I might add). Tennessee politicians will tell you they had to spend a million in local tax dollars for the conference to help promote Tennessee tourism. This doesn’t make sense to me. Once in Tennessee I see all the attractions and leave, why come back? In fairness, some things might be worth coming back to like the magnificent Opryland Hotel (which hosted the conference) but why should all the other hotels subsidized their benefit.
The Americans for Limited Government Conference was held in Chicago and was one of the best conferences I have attended. We heard stories that would move the hardest of hearts. We heard from an African American pastor in Oklahoma who is losing his church to a governmetn forced mall development. We heard about the latest union tactics in Nevada where gangs of blockers harassed people from signing petitions. Also in Nevada the signature-harassment went to new organized heights as teams of three union blockers would drive around looking for petitioners at storefronts. Once found they would call in a false complaint to the store manager, and then send in someone to start a verbal fight to stir up trouble. The sheer amount of horror stories of how judges and Secretary of State offices are going to extremes to disqualify petitions and shut down democracy was a real tragedy. ALG also talked about their support for local initiave action — which they are supporting Oregon’s Spending Limit and Term Limit measures.
In the end, the conference was much more eye-opening and heroic than the ultra-negative and sour outlook as reported by the Oregonian (and horrible pictures). Interestingly, all we wanted was the same journalistic treatment that Senator Ron Wyden got at the bottom of the same front page where the article treated him in glowing terms.
It is sad to see such modern day patriots as Americans for Limited Government work so hard to redemy blatant governemnt government corruption and work to helping empower citizens for better government get mistreated by the media, and then to see millions in tax dollars go to big government advocacy conferences get applauded.