THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER," and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God. - Thomas Paine, "The American Crisis", December 23, 1776
The winter of 1776 was severe. Washington's ragged Continental Army was encamped at Valley Forge PA. The colonies had been at war with Britain since April of 1774. Apart from a few bright moments in New England, the war was going badly. Washington had been defeated in every battle he fought. The Continental Congress had been forced to abandon Philadelphia. The Army was freezing and starving. Desertions were high and men whose enlistments were expiring were reluctant to re-enlist. Into this time of crisis came the words of Thomas Paine.
Paine's words ring as true today as they did over 200 years ago. Today there was another rally on the circle. The turnout was but a fraction of the crowd that was there last summer for Black Sunday. Many people thought that the tax crisis was over last summer when Governor Daniels "froze" the property taxes at the 2006 rates pending a re-assessment. This week the Governor revealed his property tax plan. Again many hailed this as the answer to our problems.
Sadly, the crisis remains. The Governor's tax plan does nothing to alleviate the immediate problem. The Marion Co. township assessors have almost without exception said the reassessment will make no difference. Thus, when the reconciliation bills arrive in April those people whose taxes increased beyond their means to pay will still face the loss of their homes. To compound the problem, the first installment of the 2008 bill will be due in May. Of course the Governor's plan relies upon the legislature to enact it, not a foregone conclusion.
I am worried that too many of us resemble those "sunshine patriots" to which Paine referred. Will we show up at the polls this November? Or, will we assume that someone else will make the correct decision for us? We must shoulder our responsibilities just as the soldiers of the Continental Army shouldered their muskets.