As a blogger at Good Business (Good-B), I usually write about money, not politics. This year, however, the two are indistinguishable. Make no mistake, American politics in 2010 are all about money--who has it, who doesn't and who wants it at any cost.
The economy continues to teeter on disaster two years after the Fall of the Great Lehman Empire. The crash was heard around the world and reverberates in our lives to this day. Massive unemployment, foreclosure nightmares and millions of businesses closing their doors are changing the fabric of American middle class life.
People (those ordinary folks who did not cause the crash yet are paying for it) are mad as hell at the injustice of the bailouts and the economic fallout they inherited. The Wall Street mortgage machine used money as a weapon of mass destruction. Those responsible for the greatest bank robbery in our history have made away with the vault and their freedom too. It's enough to make the citizenry rise up and turn the boats of taxpayer money over. And so they have in the form of the "Tea Party," a well-funded upheaval of the status quo. Or is it?
The hyped-up hyperventilating media has convinced us that the amorphous body of angry and contradictory views dubbed the "Tea Party" is a revolution of the "people." But who are these people? Nobody I know. Despite Peggy Noonan's passionate defense of Tea Party dogma on Fareed Zakaria GPS recently, the tea drinkers are attracting all varieties of fringe extremists who want among other things to abolish public education, Social Security and Medicare and further deregulate the financial markets. Ouch!
This is not a revolution--it is a throwback to the dark days of yesteryear. Tea Partiers hope to recapture American life when only the wealthy were educated, fed and housed. A pre-FDR world where the forgotten elderly were literally dying of starvation, disease and homelessness...Teeming tenements with 20 people to a single room, filth, squalor, abject poverty...Rural life where folks worked until they dropped from sheer exhaustion, illness and misery...Is this the picture of a robust and free America we would all like to see? It would certainly help with population control and rising medical costs.
Freedom is only preserved through checks and balances. As we have seen these past few years, unfettered financial markets lead to economic anarchy. A small group of the most aggressive, greedy and self-serving rises to the top and keeps everyone else financially enslaved. The bailouts of 2008 and 2009 have stoked the national anger. Our government created a two tier economic system--one for the bailed-out banks who perpetrated the financial chaos, and the other for the rest of us folks who actually have laws to follow and morals to protect.
The Tea Party is a reaction to this sorry state of economic injustice. Their outrage is well-founded and shared by most of us. Yet their solutions are destructive and hypocritical. It's the original "what's-in-it-for me" crowd made up mostly of what appears to be self-absorbed boomers (Glenn Beck for one). It should be no surprise to anyone that the "greed-is-good" generation has put its stamp of approval on abandoning social responsibility.
Contrary to the dogma that this is a new idea, it is precisely the same belief system that brought us here. In America, we have increasingly ignored our social responsibility to one another over the past thirty years.
Abolish the Fed
Libertarian ideals of ultimate freedom seemed a good idea once-upon-a-time. Yet in post financial crisis America, this concept of freedom is not only unrealistic, it is downright dangerous to the health and welfare of the American people. Tea Partier Rand Paul would never be viewed as anything other than extreme in better times. Paul, like his anarchy-loving daddy, supports abolishing the Federal Reserve and the IRS. (Come to think of it, not such bad ideas--especially when you think about how abusive these two agencies have become.)
Papa Paul claims that the central bank is unconstitutional. This 200 year old argument was debated by no less than Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. The "father" of our nation, George Washington settled the question by endorsing the First Bank of the United States. Yet the issue continues to be contentious. Both Pauls are right however by suggesting the Federal Reserve should be open to audit. After all it is our money isn't it?
Abandon Social Security and Medicare
Other tea drinkers include debunkers of established social programs. "We need to phase Medicare and Social Security out," said Sharron Angle, Republican Senate candidate (opposing Harry Reid in Nevada). Despite the fact that 61 year-old Angle was educated at public schools and supported by taxpayer jobs, she wants government out of her life. In the ultimate irony, Angle is receiving full benefits of a U.S. federal government pension and healthcare plan through her husband's long employ with the Federal Bureau of Land Management.
Such is the distorted hypocrisy typical of many Tea Party "activists." Their mantra might be: I'm okay and you're not. Or as Angle would say with characteristic sensitivity, "Man up!"
So much of Tea Party jargon is about selfish indifference. The "NJ Tea Party Patriots" motto "Don't Tread on Me" is a paranoid defensive display of anti-immigration, anti-health care reform, anti-economic reform and anti-cap-and-trade. What are they for you may wonder? Maintaining the Bush tax cuts.
Free-for-all Market Capitalism