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Just delivering the news

— Downstate, where I grew up, they called it “protection.”

It went beyond the police department or the government; it was more personal. Basically, the bullies in the neighborhood would ensure my safety for a fee.

I had a paper route and they knew I had money, so they wanted to squeeze me for a portion of it, so they could use it to get their shoes shined.

When I politely declined, thinking I already enjoyed a certain safety during my early morning delivery hours, I was heralded by my peers for bravery above and beyond actual self-indulgence.

The next morning, my stack of papers was set on fire. No problem. I ordered another stack, delivering them and attending school late. The following day, my bicycle was stolen. No problem. I borrowed my brother’s and alerted the police. The next day my brother was beaten up.

Problem.

Did you ever hear of the Norquist Pledge? It’s a promise signed by hundreds of Congressmen and potential candidates to never, under any circumstances, raise taxes, in return for protection.

Unlike marriage’s “until death do you part,” where you can get a divorce after so many years if things go terribly wrong, the Norquist Pledge is forever binding, under any circumstances, no new taxes.

After the violent attacks on America in 2001 and the subsequent efforts toward retaliation, the hurricanes, the tsunamis and the great banking bailouts, not to mention the cost of living, the loss of jobs and the exorbitant price of health care, our government is in a hole.

Instead of granting free reign for terrorism, turning a blind eye toward horrific act of God disasters and allowing countless deaths and unnecessary suffering for those without the wherewithal to help themselves, the American government tried to do the right thing, and in the process, it overextended itself.

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