I've always considered myself more of a Constitutionalist then anything else but I've always felt that true Conservatism stems from following the Constitution on the national level and following a fairly libertarian view of self responsibility and the belief that your rights end where mine begin. Because of this I've been a registered Republican since I first turned old enough to vote.
Lately though my conservatism has been called into question.
I suppose the questioning began when Merrimack started debating if it should consider switching to a pay as you throw plan to cover the enormous costs associated with it's transfer station. Considering only a third of the town uses it and even then it's costing about the same as it would for full curbside pickup, people rightly so question why they should be forced to subsidize the cost of other people's trash. Being someone who believes in self responsibility I supported pay as you throw. The true "conservatives" however disagreed with me claiming that forcing people to pay for their own service instead of pushing the cost onto everyone in town would be double taxation. I'm still trying to figure that one out since if you opt out of using the site you wouldn't be taxed at all resulting in lower taxes for most of the town.
My second strike came when the budget committee reviewed this years school budget. In sense of full disclosure my wife is on the school board in Merrimack right now. Anyway, the school board felt it wasn't fair to the taxpayers to push a budget that would result in an increase in taxes so they asked the school to provide a level funded budget, which they did. One of the school buildings also needed a new roof but since this is a need not a want they felt it wasn't right to put it in a warrant article so instead opted to include it in the budget... all $600,000 of it. But because the budget was no longer level they sent the school heads back to find $600,000 in cuts which they did.
Let me interject here in stating that I do not feel it is the job of the budget committee to set school policy, only to review the budget itself. Based on this philosophy, when the budget did come to the budget committee there wasn't much wiggle room left. I was left this year for the first time in my seven years on the committee not making a single motion (I did however second some other members made).
And it didn't stop there. The committee voted to cut based on a possible savings projected by a bus contract that hadn't been signed yet. The school officials stated to the committee that even though the savings may end up being there, several members of the public lead by state Rep Jeannine Notter petitioned the school board for more buses since in some cases their children currently have rides over an hour long. Since the state law requires any revenue on the school side to be returned to the tax payers I felt it the right thing to do not to vote on an uncertainty. When the budget committee voted, I abstained hoping the contract would be finalized when it went before the town for the deliberative session.
Along comes the deliberative session and unfortunately the contract had not been finalized... however a motion was made to cut the money anyway. Due to the same uncertainty and the fact the money couldn't be kept if not needed I supported leaving it in the budget. Oddly the state rep who argued for more buses did vote to cut the money... I guess that's what makes her a Republican and why my status is being called into question. (Don't get me wrong, I do like Jeannine but I am not the kind of person who wont point out when I disagree with someone regardless of how much I like them).
My third strike as a "Conservative" came when the town council of Merrimack discussed the library budget. Time permitted I'm going to write another article discussing the library's budget but so not to bore you here with facts, the library budget since 2006 has gone down $223,081. A nearly 18% drop. During this same time the three largest departments have gone up by more then the entire library budget, and that's just the amount they've increased since 2006. So when the town council reviewed it's budget and went after the library cutting even more to the point they now will be forced to shut down all day Sunday and close at 5 PM on Monday's when most tax payers would have otherwise been able to use the service I got upset and challenged them that they were looking in the wrong areas for cuts since they are now impacting a service tax payers use.
The town's highway department since 2006 has gone up by $2,815,185, that's an 89% increase. That increase alone is almost 3 times the entire library budget. But silly me, since I feel they should be looking there first instead of cutting away a service to the point tax payers wont even have access to it for 2 days of the week (3 if you consider they already close at 5 PM on Fridays) I guess that makes me less of a conservative.
I don't always agree with Republicans...
I don't support the war on drugs and instead feel that we should have authority to control what we put into our own body's and not the government.
I felt the minute we stopped searching for WMDs the Iraq war was no longer justified.
I don't believe the government should have any involvement in defining marriage one way or the other and should only write laws that allow people to choose who they wish to make life and death choices in their behalf... in which case it shouldn't matter if that person is the opposite sex or same.
But I agree with them far more then I agree with Democrats...
I support life and I do not believe that taking a life should ever be considered a "choice".
I believe in small government. If you read Article I Section 8 of the Constitution you'd find that much of the federal government is outside the scope of the power they were given.
I believe in the free market. We'd be far better off in nearly every case getting government out of running most services and opening them up for consumer choice.
I believe in school choice. This goes hand in hand with free market but never the less should be pointed out. Children are not one size fits all so who better to know which type of schooling is best for a child then that child's own parents?
I believe in lower taxes. Taxes like tolls where 50% to 90% go toward the method of collecting them should be abolished. In fact the more taxes and fees we have the easier it is for the government to mask how much you pay which is why with the exception of user fees for services you directly use, I support tax consolidation.
I believe in the 2nd amendment and unless your Constitutional rights are stripped after due process as stated in the 5th amendment you should have the freedom to own and carry a gun.
So what does this make me?
Because I don't support cutting services when we're seeing other departments and being allowed to grow by nearly double during the same time the department in question has dropped 18% am I now a liberal?
Because I don't feel it's responsible to cut based on what might happen when a contract is finalized does that make me a left winger?
Because I don't believe in forcing taxation on a service you do not want or use, does this make me a moonbat?
Last year several members of the "right" in Merrimack also pushed voters to vote down the town budget in favor of the default budget which appeared on the ballot about a million less. Of course doing my homework I realized that the default budget did not account for revenue which the proposed budget did. This resulted in a default budget that gave the town even more money then the proposed budget and resulted in a higher tax rate on homeowners. Because I tried to point out that they were wrong should I drop the R next to my name and register instead as an independent?
This year's budget for the record is roughly $3 million more then the default budget but again because the "conservative" council put up an article leaving out the revenue portions in the proposed budget the default would give the town even more money and result in a 10 cent per thousand higher tax rate. I raised a point in the town meeting to point that out for anyone paying attention. I sure hope that doesn't make me a socialist.