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Monday, March 23, 2015

I wouldn’t want Stephen King pissed at me

A few days ago, Maine’s Tea Party Governor got himself in over his head when he made what he probably thought was a clever remark in his weekly radio address. 

If you haven’t seen this by now, here’s what he ended his address — which concerned the cutting of state income taxes — with:
“… today former Governor Ken Curtis lives in Florida where there is zero income tax. Stephen King and Roxanne Quimby have moved away, as well.”
That was the first version of his speech. Before renowned horror fiction writer Stephen King responded to that little dig by noting that it wasn't true! Once LePage’s office realized the giant they had awakened, they quickly revised the speech and sent that out to radio stations. 

An accompanying note advised that this new version was to be the one played from that point on. Like that would undo the damage. Or prevent the whole debacle from hitting media outlets. 

Ooops. Too late.

The statement that King sent to the Portland Press Herald on Thursday was acerbic and indignant:
“Governor LePage is full of the stuff that makes the grass grow green. Tabby and I pay every cent of our Maine state income taxes, and are glad to do it. We feel, as Governor LePage apparently does not, that much is owed from those to whom much has been given. We see our taxes as a way of paying back the state that has given us so much. State taxes pay for state services. There’s just no way around it. Governor LePage needs to remember there ain’t no free lunch.”
That was enough to cause King fans to add their full-throated support of the man and his words. Most said something along the lines of LePage running afoul of one of America’s greatest wordsmiths with no comparable weapons. You’d think that might be where things ended…
But, on Friday, “Uncle Stevie” sent out a Tweet:

 Uncle Stevie wants an apology. He better get one, too.
Apparently, the revision was not enough to mollify King. On top of the Tweet, he went fully transparent on he and Tabitha’s state taxes in an email to the Portland Press Herald:
“In 2013, my wife and I paid approximately 1.4 million (dollars) in state taxes. As this is a matter of public record, I have no problem telling you that. I would imagine 2014 was about the same, but I do not have those figures. In addition, the King Foundation gives grants from three to five million dollars annually, mostly in Maine. We consider this a very fair price for living in the most beautiful state in America.”
Uncle Stevie wants an apology and he deserves one. 

With all that he has done for Maine — as opposed to the things LePage has failed to do — King has a right to an apology. Between the taxes, the STK Foundation, the baseball stadium, the books he gives away to soldiers who go through Bangor on their way to bumf*ck Iraq or Afghanistan and the various other things (including Democratic candidates; he is one of Maine’s largest political donors) that add up to roughly $4 million per year, King does to help others in Maine and elsewhere, he damn well deserves an apology.

King has long been an advocate of giving back. He wrote a column for The Daily Beast in 2012 called, in his colorful fashion, “Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake!” in which he castigated his fellow one-per-centers. In his usual straightforward style, he told his fellow rich folks off:
“What some of us want—those who aren’t blinded by a lot of bullshit persiflage thrown up to mask the idea that rich folks want to keep their damn money—is for you to acknowledge that you couldn’t have made it in America without America. That you were fortunate enough to be born in a country where upward mobility is possible (a subject upon which Barack Obama can speak with the authority of experience), but where the channels making such upward mobility possible are being increasingly clogged. That it’s not fair to ask the middle class to assume a disproportionate amount of the tax burden. Not fair? It’s un-f**king-American is what it is. I don’t want you to apologize for being rich; I want you to acknowledge that in America, we all should have to pay our fair share. “
And really, that’s all the rest of us want, those of us who are barely keeping our heads above water while the 1% sails by on their $6 million yachts. A little fairness. It’s something that Stephen King understands. He was where many of us are. He struggled like we do. And, dammit, he remembers what that was like.

Stephen King remembers. And he expects everyone who got where they are on the blood, sweat and tears of the rest of us to give back. He also expects an apology from LePage. That would require the Governor to “man up,” though. So that apology may take some time.

Author T. Steelman: A lifelong Liberal, I have been writing about politics for over 20 years, half of that time online. While I'm a policy wonk and interested in all aspects of politics, my focus is on religion, especially issues of religious freedom since I am a Wiccan. Though I do try to keep it in check, my sarcasm gets off of its leash -- more and more often nowadays. I enjoy reading, making jewelry, Prog Rock and etymology. I share my home with my husband, daughter, 2 cats and a small herd of alpacas. "If the future's looking dark, we're the ones who have to shine..."