Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Final Word on Tea Parties

Much ink has been already spilled about the faux-populist protests known as Tea Parties. I think it's fine for disgruntled conservatives to peacefully protest. Now they'll reach the same conclusions we on the left learned a long time ago: protests accomplish not all that much in the long run. Lawmakers ignore them altogether and their impact on a large scale is quite minimal. If Republicans want to use them as a way to network with each other and have solidarity in a kind of misguided, ill-thought-out ideology, that's probably the most realistic outcome they ought to expect from all the bluster.

The irony among many of these protests is that the first Tea Party was conducted by a bunch of rabble-rousing liberals who objected to a very conservative, very remote King dictating distasteful orders and increasing the American tax burden on staple products from across the ocean without any colonial say in the matter. The most immediate impact of throwing tea chests in the ocean was that Great Britain, in a retaliatory measure, closed Boston Harbor to trade and to increase the tax burden as punishment. These measures did, of course, effectively inflame the Patriot cause, which snowballed into armed rebellion a few months later. The major grievance colonists had with Mother Britain is that they were being used as a cash cow and source of cheap raw materials while not being fairly compensated for their goods. In 2009, then, using the phrase "tea party" then, is not a particularly accurate comparison to the current day. While the fear of and response to increased taxation is what both of these gatherings have in common, that's about as far as it goes.

The conservative argument assumes that nearly all taxes are evil by their very nature. Tax revenues, as their line of logic goes, fund unnecessary programs, are allocated improperly, or are embezzled by lawmakers and lobbyists. While it is true that there is wasteful spending and improper stewardship in government and always will be, the conservative argument assumes that the private sector is somehow immune from this same kind of gross incompetence, greed, graft, and corruption. If anything, the private sector is just as seriously flawed as the government if not more so, and certain companies resort to such shady accounting practices, blatant cronyism, and unfair labor practices that the government looks lily-white by comparison. I think a much fairer conclusion would be to say that neither government, nor the free market has some kind of intrinsic purity.

To reiterate, there are many fallacies in the conservative argument against taxation and so-called big government. The first is that somehow the Federal Government and Washington D.C. is the supreme offender. Many state governments are far more wasteful and ten times less effective. This is what gets conveniently left out of the discussion. The second is that government growth is a cancerous evil that must be checked lest it spread and destroy the country. I see no one on the right willing to acknowledge that if they believe that, they need also believe that the unchecked growth of huge corporations is a similar threat upon the rights of individuals, businesspeople, and consumers.


Utah Savage said...

Nicely done.

When I write about this teagagging stuff, I'm not nearly as civilized and reasoned as you. See what I mean? I can't resist the cheap shot.

jadedj said...

Spot on post. I am in total agreement with you. However, I'm not sure we need even be acknowledging this feeble attempt to degrade the Obama Administration, because that is the motivation. The Big, Bad Government argument and the facist-socialist-Muslim-anti-christ-Communist-Nazi-all inclusive evil, not so black man theme, isn't cutting bait any longer. Witness the turn-out for the "tea" parties. All 17 of them, at the very least, misinformed and, I suspect, lonely...and the rest of us damn well know it.

Anonymous said...

I dunno; the tea party here in Orlando looked fairly well populated.

Great post.

PENolan said...

Well said, Comrade, and much appreciated since I can't even stand to hear about this foolishness from Keith and Rachel.