When it comes to any individual’s relationship with government there is much to be said for simply saying “no.”
In fact, that unique freedom that Americans say they cherish got started with a hearty “no” to the Stamp Act of 1765, a tax passed by the British Parliament that annoyed the living hell out American Colonists.
In the United States we now have governments moving in on us at all levels, federal, state, and local. They tax our incomes, our property, our purchases, our mortgages, our communications, even our deaths. They always want more, always want it now, and they want us to like it.
But the worst part of it is that we never really get it together to say “no” to them. And when such terrible ideas come into our heads we hear from a lot of politicians and busybodies about how awful and selfish it is to say “no” to them.
But “no” is a great source of freedom, and it’s also very refreshing, invigorating in fact.
Even in our individual lives we can gain much from saying “no” to things that bedevil us. “No” to drugs or drink. “No” to gambling our money away. “No” to the solicitations of telemarketers.
“No” isn’t the whole of freedom, but it’s a huge part of it. “No” is a way to focus. “No” is a way to keep what is yours. “No” is the keeper of sanity.
So when the taxpayers of New Paltz meet tonight with the imperial New Paltz board of education and its chief executive, superintendant Maria Rice, telling them “no” will be a tonic, a step in the right direction, an assertion of ownership over your own property, which the school district apparently thinks it owns given the considerable rent it charges you in annual taxes to live on it, indeed to keep it.
“No.” Try it. You’ll like it. And keep saying it.