Sunday, March 1, 2009

Let's Have a Tea Party!

I went to the NYC Tea Party yesterday. The tea parties have been held around the country to protest the stimulus bill. The parties seem somewhat small right now, and amateurish. The one I attended in New York had a bunch of people in City Hall Park listening to a series of folks speaking through a megaphone.

The crowd was maybe about 150-200, though to be sure, I am poor at judging these sorts of things. It did not seem angry and in fact was more light hearted. I did see quite a few Ayn Rand acolytes and Ron Paul supporters. The only angry guy I saw was an anti-immigration type wondering about.

Many of the signs were based on the principle of the stimulus bill leading to socialism. My favorite sign was "Pork -- the other red meat."

OK -- it is a beginning. Conservative/libertarian protests rarely come close to the protests the left is able to put together. Mostly I think it is cultural. The American right tends to be more individualistic and somewhat distrustful of protests. Protests too uncomfortably look like mobs.

Further, as PJ O'Rourke used to say "conservatives have jobs" and generally have better things to do other than stand around listening to people complain. They would rather sit at home and watch basketball or spend time with family.

Also, conservatives do not have groups that exist to organize action. The Left has ACORN and an array of activist groups. They call a meeting and within a day have professionally printed signs and rhyming chants. Conservative groups tend to be more like think tanks, and unfortunately, lobbying groups. Not as much street action oriented.

And yes, I would argue that much of that cultural difference is good. We do not think everything revolves around politics. Which is probably why the only major "right" protests tend to be ones that the churches are involved in -- most importantly abortion. But the churches have their own agendas and cannot really be considered part of the Right (though the more churchgoing you are the more likely you are on the right). The Catholic Church for example helps get the annual March for Life protests going, yet it also was the force behind the immigration marches (at least initially).

The rally was mostly positive and lighthearted. There was a Minuteman type running around. But the crowd seemed a mix of conservatives and libertarians, with Ron Paul supporters and Ayn Rand disciples sticking out.

19 comments:

Rodak said...

Tea Party, my ass. The slogan then was "No taxation without representation".
But you have represenation. It's just that you think that when it doesn't go your way, it doesn't count; it's negated by not catering to your perceived personal interests. Sheesh.
What these things should be billed as is "Wall Street" Parties--as in the movie--as in "Greed is Good". Get real.

W. E. Messamore said...

Rodak, another slogan back then was "Don't tread on me."

And as Thomas Jefferson said:

"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."

The "argument from democracy" is morally impotent because the sanction of even a majority of voters is insufficient to justify injury to someone's "life, liberty, and property," another slogan of the revolutionary era in American history.

And in addition, is it fair to say that by funding spending with excessive borrowing (to make an understatement), our government has effectively levied taxes and placed a heavy yoke on minors and citizens yet to be born? You would agree of course, that they have no representation or voice in the matter?

And how can we say that we are being represented when our representatives weren't given a chance to read the legislation before voting on it? The secrecy and closed-door committee meetings seem rather oligarchical than republican.

I share your outrage at Wall Street, so I find it interesting that you would associate me and the other Tea Party protestors with Wall Street. We're just as angry about the financial bailout as we are about the stimulus package. The outrage against both has come from the same quarters of thought and punditry.

I for one, am a university student completing my final year of study in Entrepreneurship. I am a self-employed small business owner who works hard to squeeze revenue out of my business, not a rich, old Wall Street type.

You cannot fairly pigeon-hole us by making unsubstantiated sweeping generalizations. My overall impression of the tea party protest in Nashville was that most attendees were hardworking, blue-collar taxpayers, the same people who turned out and blocked Tennessee's proposed state income tax years ago.

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William R. Barker said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anthony said...

Bill -- I have a generally indulgent view of comments. Generally my tolernce is only low for abusive comments, which I view as being mean and nasty, especially when you get personal with people.

You did not quite get personal there but you went to far.

William R. Barker said...

(*CHUCKLE*)

No hard feelings, Anthony.

I do believe what I believe though.

(*SHRUG*)

Let me ask you... if (GOD FORBID!) a habitual, unrepentant, drunk driver with a suspended license who has... let's say... seven dwi's on his record over the last ten years gets drunk tomorrow and crosses a double yellow and crashes into a car driven by your wife with your two beautiful children in the car and KILLS THEM ALL... are you going to tell me that if you had had the opportunity to know this was going to happen in advance and knew the only way to prevent it was to KILL this bastard that you wouldn't have...???

Work up your own scenario. The "if you could go back in time and kill baby Hitler" scenario... or Charles Manson... or... take your pick.

(*SHRUG*)

Should I use "fall in a coma" instead of "assassinated" when I theorize about how the nation would be better off with certain politicians... er... out of the picture?

I'm guessing your general response might have something to do with where we draw the line... with the "death penalty" reserved for those who murder, not to be used on those who "only" destroy the economic underpinnings of our nation...

(*SNORT*)

Me? While I understand such artificial distinctions, I view what Barney Frank and Chris Dodd have done as capital offenses and I can't think of a better "message" than that proposed as my "I'd like to see" in my previous post which you deleted.

Anyway... your blog... your rules. (*WINK*) I respect that!

BILL

W. E. Messamore said...

Bill, Anthony is a Roman Catholic, so I imagine if he shares Christ's unconditional love for the world and chooses not to live by the sword (or the gun) as the Nazarene commanded, that if he could go back in time, he would visit that man, show him love, and invite him to Mass so that instead of getting drunk to escape from his loneliness and ending up by killing Anthony's wife, he would stay sober to enjoy Anthony's unexpected outpouring of friendship and would end up sharing a meal with Anthony's family that Anthony's wife helped prepare.

Don't get me wrong, I believe the use of violence is justified in some cases to defend ourselves from aggressors, but in the end I believe that love accomplishes far more than violence ever can. It is far more potent and far more permanent and positive in its effects. Indeed, love is the foundation of existence, underlying and animating all life and being with its uncreated energies. Call me an idealist, but I put my hope in love.

Rodak said...

I share your outrage at Wall Street, so I find it interesting that you would associate me and the other Tea Party protestors with Wall Street.

I merely point out that the central issue of the Boston Tea Party was not the central issue today. "Tea Party" is catchy, and in most peoples' general knowledge bank, but it's a misnomer for your particular set of gripes.
And I didn't associate you with Wall Street. I was suggesting that you should have a "Greed Is Bad" demonstration, not a Tea Party. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear enough on that.

Anthony said...

Rodak -- that is the rallying cry should not be "No taxation without representation" but "no taxation without DELIBERATION."

Rodak said...

No. That's cute. But there has been deliberation. You just don't like the outcome of it. Conservatives talk as though Obama has come up with this stuff all by his lonesome, which is, of course, nonsense. It's a matter of dueling economists at this point.
I note that it has been the doctrines of conservative economists which have gotten us to the place where Obama's advisors have to jump into the breach with two strikes (if not already three) against them.
It seems that "let's cut the taxes of those who pay most of the taxes and then fight two wars, while letting bankers bundle bad loans" didn't work out too well.

W. E. Messamore said...

Rodak, I understand that you are pointing out that the issue then was not the same as the issue now.

You believe (and I agree that) the issue then was taxation without representation. You also believe that this is not the issue presently.

But then what do you do with all the arguments I made in my first comment that show that this is the issue today, and that we have had taxation without representation in the passage of this bill? Particularly:

"...is it fair to say that by funding spending with excessive borrowing (to make an understatement), our government has effectively levied taxes and placed a heavy yoke on minors and citizens yet to be born? You would agree of course, that they have no representation or voice in the matter?

And how can we say that we are being represented when our representatives weren't given a chance to read the legislation before voting on it? The secrecy and closed-door committee meetings seem rather oligarchical than republican.
"

Rodak said...

You are not being tread upon. Evidently the politicians you voted for, and who would have done more what you would like to see done lost. The other party is in power. But it was a fair election. "Don't tread on me" refers to tyranny, not to finding oneself with minority status after a head count. What you are advocating, under the real-world circumstances, amounts to anarchy. You're just a bad loser.

W. E. Messamore said...

I already responded to this in my original comment:

"...as Thomas Jefferson said:

'A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.'

The 'argument from democracy' is morally impotent because the sanction of even a majority of voters is insufficient to justify injury to someone's "life, liberty, and property," another slogan of the revolutionary era in American history.
"

Just because a majority of voters voted for something, that doesn't mean it's automatically not an act of tyranny, oppression, or abuse. Surely you would agree that whether something is an injustice has nothing to do with how many people supported it?

After Hitler rose to power democratically, with a majority of German support, would you have told me that I was just being a sore loser for opposing his policies? Now I'm not saying that the stimulus package is as bad as "the final solution" but the point of that question is to illustrate that democracy doesn't carry a moral sanction. It can make mistakes and it can support injustices, and whether or not something is an injustice has nothing to do with how many people support it. Would you agree?

Rodak said...

Would you agree?

Yes, I agree in principle. But, in point of fact, under our system of checks and balances the fact that a majority of the people vote on something does not mean that it will forever remain the law of the land. It can be overturned by the courts if it is challenged and found to be unconstitutional.
But that wasn't my argument. My argument was that calling your protest a "Tea Party" was a misnomer, because your situation with regard to representation does not reflect that of pre-Revolutionary colonialists.
Give it another name and knock yourself out.
Btw, any soi-disant Christian who finds himself in common cause with materialist, atheist, anti-intellectual Objectivists has good cause to examine his own deepest motives.

W. E. Messamore said...

We're going in circles here. Recap:

R: It's not taxation w/o representation.

W: Yes it is for the following reasons...

R: No its not because of democracy...

W: Democracy is impotent.

R: Well yes- in principle, but it's not taxation without representation.


Having come full circle to your original comment, what do you say to my original rebuttal which you've been running from this whole comment thread? Particularly:

is it fair to say that by funding spending with excessive borrowing (to make an understatement), our government has effectively levied taxes and placed a heavy yoke on minors and citizens yet to be born? You would agree of course, that they have no representation or voice in the matter?

And how can we say that we are being represented when our representatives weren't given a chance to read the legislation before voting on it? The secrecy and closed-door committee meetings seem rather oligarchical than republican.


The truth is our situation is the same... we both suffer from the tyranny of taxation without representation, and the above argument (re-pasted for the second time) aptly demonstrates the veracity of this assertion.

As for your parting shot, it is essentially an association fallacy. No group's agreement or disagreement with my assertion has anything to do with the veracity of my assertion or the validity of my reasoning.

Using your argument, we could say that vegetarians and anti-tobacco advocates should examine their motives because Hitler was also a vegetarian and fiercely anti-tobacco, but we'd be wrong.

Just because Hitler believed something doesn't make it wrong or bad, and the same goes for Ayn Rand, atheists, hippies, materialists, those wicked libertines, and everyone else.

Rodak said...

is it fair to say that by funding spending with excessive borrowing (to make an understatement),

I would say why weren't you throwing tea parties six years ago when W. was mortgaging your descendant's futures to the Chinese, borrowing to pay for his illegal war in Iraq and creating huge deficits with other unpaid-for spending?

That said, you have to admit that while we are both doubtlessly being screwed, we are being screwed by people whom we (as a PEOPLE) ELECTED to office. We are not being screwed by a government from across the water over whose actions we can exercise no control. (That screwee would be, for instance, the Iraqis.) You don't like what Obama's doing; I didn't like what Bush was doing. People agreed with me too late on that; but we did replace many of his supporters in the two houses of congress in the last election. You can get rid of Obama and the supporters of his policies in 2010 and 2012. The celebrants of the original Tea Party in Boston did not enjoy that privilege. So, you're still stuck with a misnomer.

No group's agreement or disagreement with my assertion has anything to do with the veracity of my assertion or the validity of my reasoning.

I didn't suggest that you should question your reasoning; I suggested that you should question your motives. There's a crucial difference there. Perfectly valid reasoning can lead to completely evil actions. There Nazis weren't illogical; they were evil.
Ayn Rand's fundamental motives were not illogical, but they were antithetical to Christian doctrine, especially as expressed in the Beatitudes. Think about it.

Alphy said...

"But you have represenation. It's just that you think that when it doesn't go your way, it doesn't count; it's negated by not catering to your perceived personal interests."

Since when does voting for (or against) someone negates our right to free speech? Why should we sit idly by, and accept policies we disagree with, just because these guys were voted into office?

"I would say why weren't you throwing tea parties six years ago when W. was mortgaging your descendant's futures to the Chinese, borrowing to pay for his illegal war in Iraq and creating huge deficits with other unpaid-for spending?"

I remember my growing discontent during those years. I remember in 2006, voting for a Republican, even as I sensed that the Republicans were going to lose the house, precisely because they didn't live up to their principles; indeed, the only reason why I voted for the Republican I did was because I knew that the Democrat would be worse.

"Rodak, another slogan back then was "Don't tread on me.""

Indeed: I am sick and tired of Republicans and Democrats alike treading on me. Down with both of them! And let's significantly reduce Federal Government while we're at it!

And nitpicking on the "Boston Tea Party" issue is rather silly: it was a single protest against a tiny tax on tea...yet it represents the entire Revolutionary War struggle for independence and freedom. These are the same things that the Tea Parties of today are demanding, so it's fitting for them to invoke the image of the Boston Tea Party.

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