“Last night three cargoes of Bohea Tea were emptied into the sea. This is the most magnificent movement of all. There is a dignity, a majesty, a sublimity, in this last effort of the Patriots that I greatly admire.”
- John Adams, diary entry, December 17, 1773
- John Adams, diary entry, December 17, 1773
A Novel Idea
Is something so new and original that it's never been seen, used or even thought of before.
Throughout early world history most societies were governed by oligarchs or kings. The evolution of democracy was slow. In ancient Greece, Aristotle experimented with the idea. In 1215 the King of England signed the Magna Carta – based on the principle that his power wasn’t absolute but subject to approval by his subjects. By the eighteenth century the idea of empire building was customary within European powers who assumed it their right to increase wealth by expanding their interests overseas.
The independence movement in the American Colonies was the first major breakaway from colonial rule. They sought the right to govern themselves and did so through employed tactics that later became known as guerilla warfare.
No Taxation Without Representation
The Sons of Liberty was an organized paramilitary group shrouded in secrecy. Established to undermine British rule in colonial America, it is credited with carrying out the Boston Tea Party and kickstarting the American revolution.
American history records the earliest known references to the group around 1765 in Boston and New York. Those chapters were formed as an underground network of patriots who agreed to work together for a common cause; challenging oppressive British rule.
The Sons of Liberty was formed from smaller organizations like the Boston Caucus Club and Loyal Nine. They recruited tavern owners, dock workers, and those looking to destabilize British governance. The Boston chapter held their meetings in Hanover Square under the “Liberty Tree,” and the New York chapter under the “Liberty Pole.” Taverns, whose owners were sympathetic to the cause, were a favorite meeting place of the Sons of Liberty. In Boston, meetings were frequently held at The Green Dragon Tavern. Despite limited evidence as to its exact origins, Samuel Adams is credited as being the founder. Their motto, “No taxation without representation,” became a rallying cry against the Stamp Act of 1765.
The name Sons of Liberty was derived from a 1765 debate over the act itself. Stamp Act supporter Charles Townshend made a derogatory statement about the American colonists. Isaac Barré stood up and defended them, referencing, “…these Sons of Liberty.” Thereafter the name was adopted.
The first recorded action taken by the Sons of Liberty was carried out in Boston on August 14, 1765. Adams and the Sons of Liberty gathered under the Liberty Tree where an effigy of Andrew Oliver, a public official in charge of enforcing the Stamp Act, hung. A sign was placed there declaring, “He that takes this down is an enemy to his country.” The effigy was destroyed. The crowd, with the Sons of Liberty leading the charge, marched on the home of Oliver and demanded his resignation.
Three days later Oliver resigned his commission. The Sons of Liberty made him publicly swear an oath to never serve as stamp master again.
The Sons of Liberty shifted their anger over the Stamp Act to the brother-in-law of Oliver, Thomas Hutchinson. He was the Chief Justice of Massachusetts. Hutchinson, a loyalist, was unpopular around Boston.
On the evening of August 15, 1765, the Sons of Liberty surrounded the mansion of Hutchinson and demanded he denounce the Stamp Act. Hutchinson refused.
Eleven days later the Sons of Liberty attacked and looted his mansion. After the attack Hutchinson and his family moved to Castle William in Boston Harbor.
Ultimately chapters of the Sons of Liberty were formed in all thirteen Colonies. By 1767 they flew a flag with five red and four white vertical stripes as their symbol.
The Sons of Liberty orchestrated resistance movements against British rule, based on what they perceived as unfair taxation, throughout the Colonies. The Sons of Liberty paved the way for America’s independence.
The legacy of the Sons of Liberty to American Revolutionary history solidified itself on December 16, 1773, with the execution of the Boston Tea Party. Led by Adams, it served as the catalyst for the Revolutionary War.
The Sons of Liberty disbanded at the end of the American Revolution.
All the East India Company tea aboard the ships docked in Boston Harbor on the evening of December 16, 1773 was produced in China, not India. The bulk of the tea consumed by the Colonies was black tea, also known as Bohea (pronounced boo-hee).
The French and Indian War pushed the British Empire to the brink of financial collapse. The British increased taxation among the Colonies to offset the rising cost of war. Along with tax revenue, the British needed goods the Colonies possessed. The Sons of Liberty, through subversion and violence, made it their goal that Britain received neither.
The British defended the notion of more taxes claiming the fighting in North America against the French was to protect the colonists, and thus, they (the colonists) should pay their fair share in taxes. The British solution, forcefully quarter soldiers with colonists via the Quartering Act. This quartering was followed by a Sugar Act, Stamp Act, Townshend Act, and Coercive Act. The British found a way to tax almost every aspect of colonial life. Thus, setting the stage for the Sons of Liberty battle cry, “No taxation without representation.”
To circumvent these acts and raise money for their cause the Sons of Liberty turned to smuggling. One of the primary goods they smuggled was Bohea tea.
By December 1773 the East India Company – an extension of the British Parliament - was nearly bankrupt. This was due, in part, to the successful guerilla warfare operations of the Sons of Liberty. At the time the tactics employed by the Sons of Liberty was unheard of. They were novel ideas, virtually unable to be defended against by the British.
On the night of December 16th, 1773, the Sons of Liberty boarded East India Company trade ships and threw shipments of tea overboard. Members of the Sons of Liberty wore traditional Native American garments. Three hours after boarding the first ship, 342 chests of tea were tossed into the harbor. In today’s economy the value of the lost tea would exceed $1,600,000.
When lawmakers of Virginia gathered in 1775 to discuss negotiations with the British king, Sons of Liberty member, Patrick Henry exclaimed, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
The Quartering Act
Required the Colonies to house British soldiers in barracks provided by the Colonies. If the barracks were too small to house all the soldiers, then colonists were to accommodate the soldiers in local inns, stables, bars, and private houses.
The Sugar Act
Its primary purpose was to tax sugar, molasses, and rum. It meant to raise revenue through the colonial customs service and give customs agents more power and latitude with respect to executing seizures of smuggled product and enforcing customs law.
The Stamp Act
Was imposed on all American colonists and required them to pay a tax on every piece of printed paper they used. Ship's papers, legal documents, licenses, newspapers, and even playing cards were taxed.
The Townshend Act
New taxes on imports of paint, lead, glass, and tea. It also served as a “blanket search warrant,” allowing British soldiers to enter a home without cause and search for prohibited items.
The Coercive Act
Sought to punish Massachusetts as a result of the Boston Tea party, it served as a warning to other Colonies. It suspended trials by jury, prohibited elections and meetings of state assemblies. It also shut down the Boston Harbor to the Colonies.
The Bill of Rights
Are the first 10 Amendments to the US Constitution. They were written in direct response to the above outlined acts and list specific prohibitions on governmental power. These amendments serve as sole protector for individual liberties. The Bill of Rights puts the government on notice that its power has limits.
Amendment I: “…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Amendment II: “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
Amendment III: “No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”
Amendment IV: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Amendment V: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
Amendment VI: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”
Amendment VII: “…the right of trial by jury shall be preserved…”
Amendment VIII: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
Amendment IX: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
Amendment X: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
“To the People”
The Tenth Amendment was added to relieve the fears of states’ rights advocates who believed the Constitution would enable the federal government to rule the states and their citizens much like a monarchy. While Federalists – those who advocated a strong central government - had prevailed with the ratification of the Constitution, the 10th Amendment was essential to the stability of the country. It acknowledged the concerns of Anti-Federalists - such as Henry - who opposed a strong central government. The Tenth Amendment is in place to limit the authority of the federal government – regarding taxation – while it confirms the supremacy of the US Constitution. It reminds all – especially the politicians - that the government belongs to the people.
Two hundred and forty-seven years later the US is $23 Trillion in debt. Much like 18th century Britain, if it can be taxed Republicans and Democrats will find a way. Our projected federal budget deficit for 2020 is $1 Trillion. By 2030 the annual federal budget deficit is expected to double. A fiscal deficit of 3% GDP is manageable. By 2030 it will rise to 5% of our GDP.
GDP, or Gross Domestic Product is a measure of our nation's economic activity. It represents the monetary value of all goods and services produced over a specified period.
As a nation our debt is not manageable. We are more vulnerable than East India Company trade ships anchored in Boston Harbor on the night of December 16th, 1773.
We are bankrupt.
Yet, there are presidential candidates campaigning on the premise of “Medicare for all.” If implemented, it would cost taxpayers another $33 Trillion over 10 years. Raising our national debt to $56 Trillion.
Divide and Conquer
Politicians deliberately frustrate the voters in order to divide the electorate into manageable halves. It’s how they maintain power. One side goes right, the other left. Once separated, a politician may offer a solution to an identified issue raised by the voters, but rarely do they follow-though with solving the problem. Once solved, do we really need the problem solver?
This demonstrates the lack of respect politicians have for us.
On the Local Front
In what can only be described as “sad,” Newton County government, specifically the Recreation Department and its appointed commission, has done it again.
One month into the year new and they conceivably violated the law (again) and by doing so, cost the taxpayers another $30,000.
This compared to the $500,000 they cost the taxpayers during the “Avery debacle.”
Do we laugh or cry at this lesson not learned?
On the State and Federal Front
In what can only be described as “expected,” Representative Doug Collins will challenge Senator Kelly Loeffler in November for her senate seat.
Collins was President Donald Trump’s choice to succeed Johnny Isakson who announced his early retirement last year due to health issues. Trump privately lobbied Governor Brian Kemp to tap Collins to fill the seat. Kemp defied the president and appointed Loeffler.
Compared to Collins, Loeffler is a political newcomer with little-to-no name recognition outside metro-Atlanta.
The forthcoming announcement by Collins sets up an interesting contest between MAGA country and Loeffler. She pledged $20 million of her own funds to help finance her reelection campaign. Loeffler even hired a former Trump aide to manager the campaign. Loeffler has the support of Kemp and the National Republican Senatorial Committee led by Senator Mitch McConnell.
Collins took a leading role in Trump’s defense during the house impeachment inquiry and remains a staunch supporter of the president.
Collins’ decision presents a challenge for Republicans, to include Kemp, hoping to unify the party behind a single candidate. This comes at a time when Republican infighting has led to much internal discord. Democrats view Georgia as a target, one they are eager to flip from red to blue. The likelihood of multiple Republicans dividing the base on a November ballot increases the chance of a January 2021 runoff. That option also makes real the opportunity for Democrats to strengthen their party behind a single candidate and win the contest straight away.
Prominent Democratic names have been thrown around as possible candidates to unseat Loeffler. Rev. Raphael Warnock, the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, announced his candidacy. Others like Matt Lieberman, the son of former US Senator Joe Lieberman and former federal prosecutor Ed Tarver are considering joining the race.
Collins’ campaign will likely be grassroots based with an emphasis placed on his close ties to Trump. Among Republicans Trump enjoys a job approval rating over 85%. Collins will take advantage of the national spotlight received from his role in the house impeachment hearings. Not to mention his district is a Republican stronghold that overwhelmingly voted MAGA in 2016.
Kemp’s rationale for his appointment of Loeffler was based in part on suburban female voters who were offended by Trump’s rhetoric and did not vote in 2016 and 2018. In theory, the selection of Loeffler over Collins sounds valid. Collins is synonymous with Trump. However, the first thing asked of Loeffler was for her to swear allegiance to the president. Since taking office she’s proven herself to be nothing more than an ideologue willing to follow party orders. Loeffler has run pro-Trump ads on television and sent numerous tweets condemning the impeachment proceedings.
Loeffler and Collins must out Trump one another.
So, how does that bring suburban female voters back into the fold?
Made for Television
This reality television show masquerading as American politics should cause us to ask ourselves: Do we deserve this?
“This” is not a critique of any one political party – they are both culpable - but one directed at “us.”
The question rephrased: Do we the voters deserve this spectacle?
The answer: Yes, we do.
The political colonoscopy known as the impeachment trial into Trump’s purported abuse of power and obstruction of congress is the precipice. Our current political culture suggests being governed by ineptness is the risk we are willing to take by re-electing failure.
Taxation with representation also sucks.
A Novel Idea Revisited
Let us visit Rome, Italy, and the Church of the Jesuit.
The Order of the Jesuit are educators within the Roman Catholic Church, recognized for their ability to solve problems. Jesuits pioneered a principle for doing so known as Casuistry. It is the study of cases of conscience and a method of solving conflict by applying principles of ethics and morals to a case of conduct.
We must think differently when it comes to issues faced with our government. We must be of the Jesuit mindset.
Politicians attempt to solve problems from a behind a desk. That is their preferred vantage point. Often, their solution is to throw more taxpayer funds at an issue and hope it works itself out or goes away altogether. It serves as a buffer between them and accepted responsibility for their failure to lead. They can tell the voters, “Look, I tried.” Case in point, our national debt of $23 Trillion.
A more practical example is the $30,000 in illegal Christmas bonuses paid out by the Newton County Recreation Commission. This money was approved by Newton County government officials. Sole responsibility lies with BOC Chair Marcello Banes.
The Jesuit says this lesson should have been learned after the Newton County Recreation Commission and county government paid out $500,000 in taxpayer funds after violating the law during the “Avery debacle.” But no. Here we are again.
The Sons of Liberty applied a novel idea to an identified issue and achieved success. They approached it from a Jesuit perspective. The Newton County Recreation Commission and county government continue to engage in illegal behavior and expect lawful results, costing the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. They approach issues with a governmental mindset; it is our money and we’ll do with it what we damn well please (i.e. approving $19,000 in taxpayer funds to purchase land valued at far less – despite taxpayer objection).
The Jesuit believe one can’t address a problem by appealing to a principle based on an experience, especially while living in a world those past experiences helped create. Which is where we are right now in Newton County government.
The Jesuit know that for real change to occur those involved in the decision-making process must journey into uncharted territory and approach an issue on a case by case basis. A problem can’t be solved with old principles (i.e. throwing more taxpayer funds at an issue and hope it works itself out or goes away altogether).
General rules apply generally. In order to bring about real change, apply Casuistry.
This too, was known by the Sons of Liberty, and they executed the greatest revolution in history.
So why does this knowledge escape the Newton County Recreation Commission and county government officials?
In order to proceed let us first make a distinction about the case at hand. Our tax dollars were taken, without consent, under threat of imprisonment and fine, and used by our county government to engage in illegal activity, twice.
When a thief steals money – without consent - regardless of how it is used, it is a crime punishable by imprisonment and fine.
Standard one: Stealing is wrong - it is illegal. No matter who commits the theft.
Standard two: Individual liberty from oppressive government is outlined in the Bill of Rights. Deviation by government from these constraints is illegal.
We have an established taxonomy: Theft - regardless of who commits the act - is illegal and government operating outside the bounds of established constitution is also unlawful.
Q1. Is taxation theft?
Q2. Where is the breaking point for the taxpayer?
Q3. When does a tax become illegitimate (used illegally by our government)?
A1. Taxes are collected under the threat of imprisonment and fine – without our consent. In practice our money is appropriated to fund a government that – according to law - belongs to the people. Although we yield – because our government holds monopoly over violence – and allow money to be taken from us - we still retain the final authority as to how our government spends our money.
A2. The breaking point for the taxpayer should be when our tax dollars are wasted.
A3. A tax - when used for illegal government activity – becomes illegitimate.
Furthermore, politicians on the right and left demand more of our money through taxation without validating why they need it. When the taxpayers do not stand up and demand better of our elected officials – and hold them accountable for how they spend our money - we continue in a circular pattern of self-destruction. Again, this is where we find ourselves dealing with the Newton County government.
Taxation is an important issue. It started the American Revolution.
Does the Newton County Recreation Commission serve the greater good of Newton County? Do they have a value? Are our tax dollars being spent wisely by county commissioners to fund a Recreation Department?
In order to answer these questions each individual taxpayer must use the Jesuit method and break the issues down, step by step.
But it must begin with this question: Do you consider taxation theft?
Our tax dollars are taken by force - without consent. Don’t believe so? Try not paying your taxes and see how many armed government agents come knocking on your front door demanding payment. The difference between us and our government, we get sent to prison for theft, they get re-elected.
We as voters must hold our government accountable. They answer to us and only get away with what we allow. In the case of the Newton County Recreation Department they have been allowed to engage in illegal activity for far too long.
We need a novel solution, a Jesuit answer. The Right’s approach and Left’s approach has not worked. Banes is willing to sacrifice our money by allowing inept managers and commission members unfettered access to taxpayer funds.
Why are we not holding them accountable?
An Oak Tree
On the town square, adjacent to the historic courthouse, stands an oak tree. It is hundreds of years old and would be an ideal place for those – eight generations removed from the Sons of Liberty - to meet and challenge a new oppressive monarchy.
If It Pleases the Crown
The Sons of Liberty turned to smuggling in order to avoid exorbitant British taxes on goods. Member and tea smuggler John Hancock was arrested and put on trial. Fellow Sons of Liberty member and attorney, John Adams, successfully defended him. Following acquittal, under guidance of the Sons of Liberty, the colonists organized a boycott of all British goods. The boycott worked. It was enforced throughout the Boston area and had a financial impact on merchants who were loyal to the crown - their businesses suffered.
Put Banes and Newton County Recreation Director Ternard Turner on notice. Let them know their behavior is not acceptable. Make phone calls, send emails, leave messages, boycott the facilities. Spend your money elsewhere.
Newton County government needs to understand. The taxpayers must be frank and speak out against the misappropriation of our money.
If it pleases the crown, stop using taxpayer funds to further your illegal activity.