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A Cheer and a Half for the Tea Party




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Sheldon Richman
August 3, 2011 | 2,378 views | 45 comments

Were it not for the Tea Party, the debt-ceiling controversy might never have taken place. Kudos on that count alone.

It comes as no surprise that the governing class and its boosters in the media portray the Tea Party folks as a collection of bumpkins and idiots who “don’t know the difference between campaigning and governing” -- indeed, who would rather destroy the world economy than compromise their dogmatic insistence on spending cuts and resistance to tax increases.

But the policy and media elites’ attitude reveals more about them than about the Tea Party. The spenders and borrowers in Washington have had their way largely unimpeded for generations. What have they wrought? A formal debt about equal to the American economy’s annual output (GDP), a 75-year “entitlement” unfunded liability of $39 trillion, a budget deficit that far exceeds $1 trillion a year (more than 40 cents per dollar spent, about 10 percent of GDP), and federal spending that consumes about 25 percent of GDP.

And that isn’t enough for the governing class and its apologists in the intelligentsia!

All this happened before there was a Tea Party. Without it the debt ceiling would very likely have been raised with little fuss, as it has been so often before. It would not have been linked to a debate over cutting spending, reducing the deficit, and shrinking the government. Some Tea Partiers opposed raising the ceiling under any circumstances. Contrary to the power elite, that is not a sign not of ignorance and inexperience but of good sense.

No one exemplified anti--Tea Party snobbery more clearly than MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell (though he had close competition from his colleagues Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow). Stunned and outraged that the Tea Party was able to keep a new debt-ceiling bill from being passed without difficulty or even public notice, he furiously waved an old one-page debt-limit bill, fuming, “There is nothing easier for Congress to do than to raise the debt limit.”

How pathetic to see O’Donnell being so clueless about two important things: first, that the ease with which the government has been able to borrow is a big part of the problem facing the country, and second, that this ease in abusing the American people is precisely why the Tea Party emerged.

For O’Donnell and his state-worshiping ilk, any resistance to the growth of government spending -- which, let us recall, is nothing but the forcible transfer of scarce resources from private owners to greedy, power-lusting politicians -- is an impertinence, a sign of disrespect for one’s betters. How dare anyone question those anointed to “run the country”? How dare mere citizens object to being committed to more debt, which will impose additional burdens on them, their children, and their grandchildren? How dare they thwart the grand schemes their benevolent rulers have in store for them?

Well, the Tea Party knows better than O’Donnell & Company that the politicians are not our betters. And they know a political comeuppance is long overdue.

For all that, I give a cheer and a half for the Tea Party. But why not more than that?

Because the Tea Partiers need to be more radical. They have missed too many opportunities to advance their cause.

For one thing, they have been largely silent on the American empire. The government spends more than $1 trillion a year on imperial activities misleadingly called “defense,” far more than the nearly $700 billion in the War Department’s budget. Empires are bloody expensive, and the sooner the Tea Party understands that, the more effective it will be in fighting for smaller government. They also should understand that that trillion dollars is not just a misguided effort to protect American security. It is a scam largely designed to line the pockets of the military-industrial complex. They can start by reading President Eisenhower’s farewell address.

Second, Tea Partiers need to learn that the middle-class welfare state is a snare and a delusion. Social Security and Medicare masquerade as benevolent mutual-aid programs, but they are devices to foster allegiance to power. If you depend on politicians for support in your later, vulnerable years, how can your freedom truly be secure? The welfare state robs working people while turning the elderly into wards of the cold state.

Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation http://www.fff.org and editor of The Freeman magazine.
 
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Your Opinions and Comments

 
New Guy  
Wilson County  
August 22, 2011 1:24pm
 
Alvin Charmaine: She is a lonely old woman...who sometimes forgets to take her medicine.

 
Alvin Charmaine  
August 21, 2011 1:16pm
 
Lots of democrats are agnostic. That said, it is bizarre for an agnostic to fear the wrath of god, like you wrote. But you seem to like to forget what you wrote, like how you have contacts at wcn giving you personal information ... More ›

 
7th Generation La Vernian  
La Vernia  
August 21, 2011 11:54am
 
4th Generation Texan: Are you for real??? We don't want all that stuff in our county..how you you spell TAXES! I love it that our children leave our county and work or go to school in your county....you can deal with the ... More ›

 
4th Generation Texan  
Sutherland Springs  
August 21, 2011 8:22am
 
'7th', you wouldn't recognize bull crap if it hit you up side the head....you remind me of going to the zoo where the monkey cages area...at first they really really stink but after an hour you don't even notice anymore...That's ... More ›

 
4th Generation Texan  
Sutherland Springs  
August 21, 2011 8:05am
 
Alvin, as Socrates said, if does not hurt to speak of God. If there is a God, he will be pleased, and if there is not a God, then there has been no hurt. Either way is either beneficial or of no harm to the speaker. Let's ... More ›

 
Alvin Charmaine  
August 21, 2011 7:02am
 
4th you are an atheist, according to your own writings, its not possible to be in trouble with anyone upstairs. Or perhaps you're talking about upstairs at the WCN where all your friends are that will give you everyone elses ... More ›

 
7th Generation La Vernian  
La Vernia  
August 21, 2011 6:57am
 
4th Generation Texan: Like you would really understand the term hypotheses. Stuff you put out is bullcrap, but who am I to tell an old woman she is full of crap. Let I said move on and live our county problems to ourselves. I ... More ›

 
4th Generation Texan  
Sutherland Springs  
August 20, 2011 9:36am
 
"Just Me" And pray tell, what data or hard facts do you present to prove your point?.....If you have none, that makes you a damn, stinking LIAR! And, besides being a liar you are a spreader of rumors, lies, and ... More ›

 
4th Generation Texan  
Sutherland Springs  
August 20, 2011 9:32am
 
Dear '7th"...I forgot....I still own .01% interest in an oil well, so that makes me a property owner in Wilson County so I have a total right to discuss Wilson County stuff. Even if I wasn't a property owner, I would ... More ›

 
Just Me  
Wilson County  
August 20, 2011 9:30am
 
Perry is nothing but an opportunist. He's not sipping, he is sucking up tea cause he believes it is tea-time at the polls. He is working hard to get the conservative and Christian vote. Pretty sure if piercings and tatoos ... More ›

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