The Journey song goes, “Don’t stop believing.”
But when it comes to getting government to take action, like with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed license plate money grab, the real message that should resonate with citizens is, “Don’t stop complaining.”
The governor on Tuesday officially withdrew his ill-conceived plan to force already-overtaxed New Yorkers to pay $25 to replace their old license plates, plus another $20 to keep their current plate numbers.
There never was any real justification for replacing perfectly good license plates and making us buy new ones.
Virtually everyone outside the governor’s office saw this for what it was —just a ploy to separate New Yorkers from more of their hard-earned money.
Here in New York, we get scammed like this all the time. Lawmakers and the governor regularly and unnecessarily run up the bill on our taxes every day, and often for a lot more than 25 bucks.
But usually, we take it lying down.
We don’t complain to our lawmakers like we should, despite how relatively easy is to get their ear. For the most part, we don’t reach out. And we re-elect them with almost clockwork certainty.
As a result, government spending keeps going up and taxes keep rising.
The movie never ends. It goes on and on and on and on.
But not this time. The license plate money grab got under our collective skin. And for a change, New Yorkers reacted. We called our county clerks and state legislators.
We wrote letters to the editor.
We voted ‘Hell No’ in polls.
And you know what happened?
They listened. They heard us complaining. And they backed down.
Now they’ll miraculously come up with another way to ensure license plates can be read without forcing us to pay to replace them. Imagine that.
If you’ll complain about $25, then you should be willing to complain about $50,000. Or $1 million. Or $1 billion. And if you can get the state to listen, then you certainly can get your town or village or county or school board to listen.
As this case shows, if you make your voice heard, if you show them you’re mad enough and fed up enough and willing to take action, the people with the power to tax us will actually pay attention and change their plans.
It’s easy to stop believing that you can make a difference.
But think about what happened here, what you did. Hold onto that feeling.
And the next time they try to pull something like this, let them know how you feel, and don’t let them get away with it.