The tea parties of the 21st century sprung up across the U.S. on Wednesday. But Rincon’s own event may have been one of the first in line — and the sentiment expressed at the Vernon C. Hinely Center was no different than the tone at other TEA parties.
More than 50 people gathered at the Hinely Center for the “Taxed Enough Already” party Tuesday night and sounded their disagreement with a government that they say doesn’t represent their interests anymore.
“I’m glad to pay my taxes. But I’m taxed enough already,” said Wayne Whitley. “They don’t need to talk about new sources of revenue that’s going to come from me. I’m doing all I can do. They need to allow us to keep more of our money so we can invest in our families, in our businesses and in our homes, and that will generate more jobs.”
Joel Avera, one of the Effingham TEA party organizers, said the nation needs to be restored to the path its founders set more than 200 years ago.
“We’re here today because our country is in trouble and has been for many years — because we the people have allowed it,” he said. “We’ve allowed it with our uninformed choices, our apathy and our silence.”
Said former Congressional candidate Ray McKinney: “We’re in this shape because it’s my fault, it’s your fault, it’s all of our faults because of what we’ve done and what we’ve failed to do.”
Avera said the government has “little or no regard for the Constitution” and has grown “far too large and far too intrusive,” a theme McKinney echoed.
“Our government is very large and very intrusive and very powerful,” said McKinney, who finished second in last July’s Republican primary for the 12th District seat, “but it gives a safety blanket feeling to so many people. And they’re going to support that kind of government.”
Avera added the current government has added more and heavier taxes and no longer fears the people.
“Moral and religious people forged the greatest and most prosperous nation this world has ever known,” he said. “We’re for liberty that grants all our citizens the equal opportunity to grow and prosper from their own labors, not impeded by governmental bureaucracy by complex and ever-increasing taxation. “We’re for a religious liberty to worship whenever and wherever we choose. Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs.”
Julie Weddle called on the attendees to spread the word to get informed and vote in the next elections and to keep going back to the polls in subsequent elections.
“The politicians want you to stay home,” she said. “It’s important for all of us to have a reason to go vote, and never before have we had a reason like now.”
McKinney cited the 18th century French writer and philosopher Voltaire, who visited the newly-formed American government and declared the greatest he had ever seen. But Voltaire also issued a caveat.
“He said the problem is going to be when the politicians realize they can retain power by taking from the few and giving it to the many,” McKinney remarked. “That’s what’s going on in this country.”
The nuclear systems engineer also said he learned from his campaign trail that it doesn’t take much work or many people to get involved to start making a change.
“You’ve got to spread the word. You’ve got to get people involved,” McKinney said. “This is where it starts. But you’ve got to take it to the next level. And it doesn’t take that many. You can make a lot happen.”
State Sen. Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) said state lawmakers worked to lessen the tax burden, or at least fight its escalation, during the recently-concluded General Assembly session. Intangible and inventory taxes were discarded, and tax credits for businesses that put unemployed workers on a payroll were passed. Lawmakers also passed a two-year property assessment freeze and the budget was chopped from last year’s $21 billion to just over $18 billion.
“The thing to do is when you have hard times is to not raise taxes and try to live within your means,” he said. “It’s the people who have a little money and spend it who turn around and create new jobs. It’s common sense economics. We’re trying the best we can to balance our budget and live within our means. We hope some of the folks in Washington will take notice.”
Whitley also took issue with U.S. Rep. John Barrow (D-Savannah) and his stance on the automakers’ bailouts and on abortion.
“I wouldn’t feel so bad about giving 50 percent of what I make if I was getting representation in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “When John Barrow supports abortion on demand at anytime, anywhere, for any reason, he does not represent me. He’s a pretty deceptive cat. He can’t run from his voting record, but he tries to.
“It is not a political issue, it is a moral issue. Our federal government subsidizes Planned Parenthood, and Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in America. When they take our tax dollars and start doing things like killing babies, we ought not to pay for that.”
Whitley also said Barrow is wrong on the employee free choice act, also known as the card check bill. Whitley said he has worked union and non-union jobs and knows both sides.
“For a union to know how you’re going to vote, that’s un-American,” he said. “We have a right to a secret ballot.”
Like McKinney, Whitley said the work to correct the course of the country can’t end with the meeting’s conclusion.
“We have got to vote,” he said. “We have got to work and stop the ungodly tyrants from taking over our government. Our forefathers fought it and won, and we can fight it and we win, too, if we do not give up and lose heart. We have got to fight the fight.”