Town hall meeting in rural Georgia

Posted: April 10, 2009 in Politics
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I should have followed up on this earlier, but never did get to it. Better late than never?

US Representative John Linder (R-GA) held a town hall meeting in Loganville on March 21, 2009. He packed the house. The room had been set up for about 60 people; after those chairs were taken and the walls behind them and down the sides of the room were lined with standing attendees, people began standing against the walls behind the podiums, sitting on the floor in front of them and all around the “stage” area. Dozens of people lined the hallways outside the room, unable to see but trying to listen. Anecdotally, I would say that half the crowd had to be first-timers, and many had likely never attended any type of political event or rally before. Rep. Linder quietly walked into the room without being recognized, and as he took the stage the audience broke into enthusiastic and grateful applause. He waved it down and led the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance (during which time I had to remind the fellow next to me to remove his hat.)

I felt very much a patriot at that moment, standing in a room of interested and active voters about to talk directly to a duly elected representative of our government, saluting our nation’s flag.

Judging by the questions asked, my local neighbors were angry and scared about the bailouts, enthused to have an advocate in Linder, and ready to do something about it. There were many, many questions about the economy. Linder made a reference to a book about economics called “The Way the World Works” by Jude Wanniski. He made a few brief comments about the failings of public education, making it clear that his position is that the Federal government should “get the hell out of the way.” Every question, even the one or two nutty ones, was answered with clarity and respect. At no time did I feel he was dissembling, evasive or deceitful. He comes across as someone who fully understands what his positions are and can clearly convey them.

He said up front that any FairTax questions would have to wait until the end of his hour, and with only five minutes left he finally got to it. To the surprise of the crowd, he spoke for the next 35 minutes about it, graciously going well over his allotted time.

He started by talking about imbedded taxes. Referencing a Harvard study, he said that of merchandise sold in this country, 22% of the cost represents tax the manufacturer paid and is passing onto the customer. That makes us uncompetitive in the world markets, including ours, where our goods are sold. It also makes us uncompetitive in drawing international businesses into our country. When Asian manufacturers were asked what they would do if the US were to implement the FairTax, they enthusiastically replied that they would immediately begin to build plants in the US. This once led President Bush to comment to Rep. Linder that we would run out of people to work in them. Anyone who understands supply and demand can see that wages would rise, unemployment would disappear, and our economy would balloon faster than a kid with peanut allergies at circus.

I have a lot of respect for the man and any misgivings I ever had about Rep. Linder have vanished. I’m looking forward to more of these town hall meetings. In the meantime, the “tea party” movement is gaining a lot of steam. I may be attending one of them on tax day…

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