This is my June Banner article, in which I draw parallels between the newly created Smoky Mountain Tourism Authority and what the founders experienced prior to the revolution. Due to space limitations, I couldn’t list all the parallels. One that I didn’t mention is similar name of Townshend Acts, to the City of Townsend, which is supposedly the reason for the creation of the Tourism Authority. The argument was that Townsend was unfairly getting more of the Tourism dollars while Alcoa was taking in more hotel/motel tax and therefore Alcoa deserved a say. That may very well be true, but you don’t create a fascist board, giving special favors as was done in the founders days, to remedy a problem.
Tourism Authority Violates American Principles
By Tona Monroe
No taxation without representation. Those words are a mantra to Americans. It is an American foundational principle to have elected representation for the taxes that we the people pay.
The County Commission, along with the Cities of Alcoa and Maryville, created the Smoky Mountain Tourism Authority. Proponents of the Authority argued that it would give Maryville and Alcoa a say on tourism. The County, Maryville and Alcoa each have one appointed official on the Board while 7 of the 10 members will be business owners. The other Cities do not have representation, but the resolution specifies that the business owners must live in certain Cities, but not all.
Britain, during the colonial era, was heavily in debt, much like Blount County today. The Prime Minister decided to maintain a standing army of 10,000, independent of the colonies, increasing the demand for revenue. Come to a Commission meeting to see police lining the walls of the Commission room. You may be searched by an officer before entering.
To raise revenue, Parliament passed the unpopular Sugar and Stamp Acts. The Stamp Act, viewed as an internal (direct) tax, was quickly repealed and replaced with the Townshend Acts external tax on imports. Parliament thought that the hostility toward the Stamp Act was due to its internal direct effect, but problems continued because colonists were only allowed to import tea from Britain. It repealed some of the Townshend taxes, but left the tax on tea. The despised Board created by the Townshend Act, to enforce trade regulations, along with the principle of making the Governors and Judges independent of the colonies were also left in place.
Smuggling of Dutch Tea in protest of the Townshend tax caused a surplus of tea and financial problems for the British East India Company. Parliament passed the Tea Act of 1773, to undercut the cost of smuggled tea by giving the Company duty free export of the Tea from Britain and the ability to ship it’s tea directly to North America.
The Tea Act embodied crony capitalism (fascism) and so does this Tourism Authority. Favorites of the Governors, who were appointed royally or by proprietors, generally served as the consignees receiving the tea and arranging for resale. The Massachusetts Governor owned part of a business hired by the British East India Company to receive tea shipped to Boston. Middlemen stood to lose their business, as did those involved in smuggling Dutch Tea.
This Tourism Authority gives 7 business owners power to spend 70% of our hotel/motel tax. Do you think, with controlling interest of the Board, that these 7 will be virtuous people who will never use a penny of the money for selfish or crony interest? History demonstrates otherwise.
Colonists responded by dumping the tea in the Boston Harbor. 11 citizens spoke at the May Commission meeting giving numerous reasons why this Tourism Authority is a bad idea. None requested passage of the Authority. It passed 15-2.
Are these 15 Commissioners ignorant of history? Is this good ole boy politics where special opportunities are given to their favorites? Have they any respect for American principles?