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Opinion

TAX REFORM - We have received a lot of feedback from citizens across North Carolina – constituents, businesspeople, our colleagues in the House, the governor – and, of course, those who write the editorial pages. While we believe the plan discussed in the Senate over the past few weeks is sound and fair economic policy, we must pass a bill that can receive broad support. So now we have a compromise plan for tax reform – one that addresses concerns about the impact of having a sales tax on food, prescriptions and services heavily used by working families.

Our compromise plan will simplify our 1930s Depression- era tax code, provide substantial tax relief to working families, make North Carolina more attractive for job creation and cut taxes by more than $1 billion in the first three years alone.

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There’s a reason George Orwell’s 1984 is a predominant theme in my new book “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State” (available now on Amazon.com and in stores on June 25). It’s the same reason Orwell’s dystopian thriller about a futuristic surveillance society has skyrocketed to the top of book charts in the wake of recent revelations by former CIA employee and National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden that the nefarious spy agency is collecting the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers, with the complete blessing of the Obama administration.

Orwell understood what many Americans, caught up in their partisan flag-waving, are still struggling to come to terms with: that there is no such thing as a government organized for the good of the people—even the best intentions among those in government inevitably give way to the desire to maintain power and control at all costs.

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Why I joined Moral Monday

I was honored to be among the 151 people who were arrested this week at the N.C. General Assembly while engaging in peaceful civil disobedience at "Moral Monday," the latest in a series of growing demonstrations aimed at what many of us see as an extreme and dangerous turn in the direction of our state.

None of the demonstrators I talked to had made the decision to engage in civil disobedience lightly. Sitting next to me in jail until the early hours of the morning were teachers, a doctor, a farmer, a former state senator and a veteran of Fort Bragg's 82nd Airborne — people from all walks of life who care deeply about the future of North Carolina and feel like they are running out of options to make their voices heard in the halls of power.

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The circus came to the State Capitol this week, complete with clowns, a carnival barker and a sideshow. The “Reverend” Barber was decked out like a prelate of the Church of Rome (no insult is meant to Catholics), complete with stole and cassock. All he was missing was a miter and the ensemble would have been complete.

Several hundred people – mostly white, angry, aged former hippies – appeared and screeched into microphones, talked about solidarity and chanted diatribes. It was “liberal theater” at its best. Just like having a honey bun and double espresso for breakfast, the impact of it all left the participants jittery and empty in the end.

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published: 10/18/2013
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