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July 7, 2009

Jeff Feingold is Editor of NH Business Review's print and on-line editions. He has been a business journalist for more than 25 years, and recognized by the Small Business Administration as National Small Business Journalist of the Year.


Ritual abuse in the Granite State

Different cultures have rituals that outsiders may have a problem understanding, whether they involve food, religion, music, sports -- you name it.

Among the tribespeople of New Hampshire, the natives have a biennial ritual that involves a certain caste of citizens. Every two years, they don their ceremonial garb -- usually a nicely pressed suit -- and hop from village to village, promising that they will fight to the death to fight the enemy at all costs. The oath is that they will never, ever, ever let the barbarians through the gate.

The tribe's enemy is taxes, and the ritual that members of the special caste -- in the New Hampshire language, they're called candidates -- undergo is called The Pledge.

While in most cultures Pledge is just a furniture polish, but in New Hampshire it is as essential to their political process as putting gasoline in your car to make it run. In fact, it isn't enough to simply raise your hand and pledge you'll oppose taxes. As the New Hampshire ritual has matured, it has become a more ornate tax-opposition ceremonies.

Consider that on June 16, Americans for Prosperity NH announced that essentially all Republican candidates for major office had signed its "Anti-Tax Pledge," which is a pledge to cut spending, cut taxes and fees, cut the size of government and uphold the state and federal constitutions.


The roster of signatories included all major congressional candidates -- John Stephen and Karen Testerman in the gubernatorial race, Rich Ashooh, Bob Bestani, Frank Guinta and Sean Mahoney in the 1st C.D., Charlie Bass and Jennifer Horn in the 2nd C.D., and Kelly Ayotte, Jim Bender and Ovide Lamontagne in the U.S. Senate race. The lone outlier: Senate hopeful Bill Binnie.

One pledge, however, is simply not enough. There's also the Americans for Tax Reform's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge," whose signatories in New Hampshire include Ayotte, Bender, Binnie, Ashooh, Bestani, Guinta, Mahoney, Bass, Horn and Bob Guida, another 2nd C.D. GOP candidate.

Then there's the American Family Business Institute's "Death Tax Repeal Pledge," which commits the pledger to vote for permanent repeal of the federal estate tax, called the "Death Tax" by opponents. Signatories among New Hampshire tribesmen so far include Guinta and Bender.

There also is the "No Climate Tax Pledge," signed so far by Ayotte, Bender, Lamontagne, Ashooh, Guinta and Horn a well as eight GOP New Hampshire House candidates and Sheila Roberge, who recently announced her retirement from the state Senate.

Welcome to New Hampshire, a state with well-polished dining room tables.



Email - Jeff Feingold
Editor, New Hampshire Business Review

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