With Taxpayers in Revolt, David Beito has brought to light a remarkable and previously unknown chapter of the Great Depression: its tax revolts. They were widespread and systematic, and they made such huge progress in some places that they threatened to bring local and state governments to their knees.
It turns out that the New Deal was not as universally popular as we have been taught. Some 1,500 antitax campaigns in the United States sprang up to resist FDR's looting. It's no wonder historians before Beito completely ignored this great movement!
Here Beito explores its driving force, leadership, ideological basis, progress, and dealings with the press. He shows how the angry taxpayers worked the system to curb tax increases and roll back the taxes in place.
Who knew this sort of resistance was mounted during the Depression?
With roots in the 1920s boom, when local spending and taxes were on the rise, the growing antitax movement gave voice to taxpayers' complaints. And as the Depression hit, taxes became an even more crushing burden, and political pressure mounted to repeal them. Governments, however, were strapped for revenue. This dynamic set up a conflict that exploded in protests. Beito deals with how the elites and the government (including large corporations) were able to smear members of the movement as enemies of the people and of society.
The book reads like a novel, complete with a tragic ending that teaches lessons for the future. Without meaning to give away the ending, the tax-revolt movement was brought down by a vast propaganda campaign and the promise of good and better government in the future — which the antitax leadership should have seen through.
There truly is so much to learn from this first-class piece of historical research and writing.