That question was asked of people attending Tea Party Patriots of Beeville rally by Rev. Tim Stowe, pastor of the Beeville Baptist Church for the last 22 years.
Stowe was the first speaker to address the crowd at a Friday evening event at Flournoy Park.
“I am not standing before you as a pastor,” Stowe told the crowd. “I am here as a concerned, conservative, Christian, flag-waving, USA-loving, American-born, patriotic citizen.
“We are told how much salt we can put on our food, what windows we can buy for our home, what kind of cars we can drive, what kinds of guns we can own, what kind of prayers we can say and where we can say them, what kind of energy we can use, what kind of food we can grow, what doctors we can see. Is it right?”
The crowd answered with a resounding “NO!”
Stowe went on to criticize the mismanagement of Congress and the trillions of dollars of debt the country continues to incur.
“Mr. President, the well has run dry, there is no more water in the well,” he said. “Give your own money away, not ours.”
The minister mentioned failure of the Department of Homeland Security to control the borders, government support for Planned Parenthood and the abortions that organization provides, politicians’ use of tax money to buy votes, the passage of a health care bill by lawmakers who did not even read the bill, the potential bankruptcy of Social Security and Medicare and government sanction of same-sex marriages, and the confiscation of homes by the government.
“Is it right that responsible Americans have to constantly be on alert from those wanting to take away their ability to defend themselves? In a home invasion, I would rather have a Glock in my hand than a policeman on the phone line,” Stowe said.
“I’m tired of politicians going to Washington to lead our country down the drain. Maybe common sense ought to be the criteria instead of experience.
“We need people who have America first at heart instead of global concerns. Let’s make our government right.”
Tea Party member Mike Keeney was next to speak. A retired department head with the Internal Revenue Service, Keeney has been able to provide a historical prospective on economic and tax issues at previous Tea Party rallies.
He told the crowd that the 16th Amendment was passed in 1913 with the promise that the income tax rate for someone making $3,000 would not go above 1 percent. The form that taxpayers filled out at first was “very, very simple.”
By the 1920s, the rate had been hiked to 75 percent for the country’s top earners. After Woodrow Wilson was replaced by a Republican president, income taxes were reduced “and we had the Roaring Twenties.”
In 1929 when the stock market crashed, the United States went into a recession. Then, Congress raised taxes and tariffs and Europe responded by increasing their tariffs.
“Trade stopped,” Keeney said. Then Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president and he created a number of programs intended to put people to work and pull the country out of the Great Depression that resulted from the higher taxes and tariffs.
Then FDR started his “Fireside Chats” on radio and slowly convinced Americans to support higher taxes.
When inventory taxes were created, businesses allowed their inventories to decline and the result was 26 percent unemployment.
Keeney went on to explain how World War II boosted employment but tax rates were hiked to 91 percent. “If you were wealthy, you got to keep 9 percent of what you made.”
After the war, Harry Truman worked to reduce the staggering national debt and in the 1960s John Kennedy reduced taxes. Keeney said the result was the booming ’60s.
But when Jimmy Carter was elected he revived the failed liberal tax policies.
“Remember how depressed the ’70s were?” Keeney asked.
“We need to stimulate the economy,” Keeney said. “We need to lower taxes.
“But the Democrats said no! This is terrible. This is the end of civilization.”
Keeney did give some Democrats credit for smart economic moves. In addition to what Truman and Kennedy did, Bill Clinton managed to balance the federal budget. Then George W. Bush got elected and ran up deficits again.
Some bad decisions were made during the ensuing years. “Then Barack Obama comes along and what did he do? He made it ten times worse.”
In about five years, almost every cent the federal government brings in will go to pay for entitlements. “The dollar will be about as valuable as the peso,” Keeney said.
He explained how state income taxes have damaged the business climate of states like Connecticut and Ohio.
“The largest number of jobs created in recent years have been in Texas,” Keeney said. That is because Texas lawmakers continue to refuse to levy a state income tax. Keeney said Texas also is a right-to-work state, which means no one here can be forced to join a union to hold a job.
Keeney cautioned the crowd to expect a return to hard economic times because of the excess printing of money and tax policies.
“We’re on the verge of entering stagflation,” Keeney said. “The same thing we had in the ’70s, high unemployment and high interest rates.”
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.