It’s a small revolution

Imagine this. The government was inept in planning to maintain monies for a modicum of services. It decided to tax the residents for its mistakes. After a series of blunders it taxed something virtually everyone used every day.
The citizens thought this latest episode of nickeling and dimeing them to death was the last straw. They refused to pay the levy claiming that the authority that forced this down their throats didn’t really represent their interest.
The leaders were shocked since they figured that the amount in question was so trivial that nobody would get lathered up about it. The patriots were not fooled by this ploy, since to accept the tax is tantamount to recognizing the body’s right to tax them. They organized a protest around the water and asked others not to submit to the tax.
Somebody attempted to set fire to the tax collection mechanism.
Eventually, they dumped all the tea in the harbor and thus the Boston Tea Party of 1773 was a night of history.
The outline of the story sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Imposing a 10 cent “toll” on the Sakonnet River Bridge was supposed to be as innocuous as taxing tea.
In 1773, Parliament had a “sweetener” when they imposed the tax by reducing the duty the colonies would have to pay for the imported tea. The Americans would get their tea at a cheaper price than ever before.
However, if the colonies paid the duty tax on the imported tea they would be acknowledging Parliament’s right to tax them. Tea was a staple of colonial life. The patriots just didn’t want to accede to the power of Parliament no matter how cheaply the tea purchase would be.
The rest is history. The colonists told Britain to take their tea and shove it. The ships were boarded and the tea was dumped. The next morning citizens manned boats and rowed into the harbor. They pounded whatever tea was visible into oblivion by beating it with oars and paddles, drenching it as to render total destruction.
So, who has these guts today? The opponents to the tax on the Sakonnet River Bridge are made out to be miscreants who are blubbering over a mere dime. Tsk-tsking abounded when the information was reported that somebody tried to burn the wires of the system that photographs cars going over the bridge. The discussion has veered away from how the state got into this pickle anyway and how stupid a 10 cent imposition is, given the need to use a 46 cent stamp to collect it.
Perhaps, instead of castigating them, the opposition should be hailed as modern day patriots who don’t want to recognize a Bridge Authority’s dominance over them. As a paraphrased saying might go, “In for a dime, in for a dollar”. Earlier estimates for a proposed toll ranged as high as $4.50.
This is not a personal fight for me since I rarely use the Sakonnet River or the Pell Bridge. There’s something amiss, however, when residents of one part of the state are pitted against the other. Certainly, there needs to be accountability at the RI Department of Transportation for its miserable maintenance of roads, rather than just letting them punt the  problem. Just as surely, there needs to be a fair allocation of costs among all Rhode Islanders. Lastly, maybe some kudos should go to the loyal opposition who reminds us what a revolutionary spirit New Englanders used to have.


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