August 11, 2011
The Tea Party and the Voice of the People
I understand what the Tea Party wants. I grew up in a place (the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska) that was populated by self-reliant homesteaders and commercial fishermen, who moved clear the hell that far north because they wanted to get away from rules and regulations. I’m a creature of that upbringing. The idea that big government needs to stay out of my business resonates with me, too.
But I’ve seen what happens when people are left without regulatory boundaries. There’s a place on the Kenai River that was once one of the prettiest spots on a waterway that defies superlatives for beauty. Then a homesteader said to hell with Big Brother and filled in the wetlands bordering one side of it, built up the bank and put in a dock, all of which led to the destruction of a salmon spawning bed and erosion problems that continue to this day. Despite what libertarians think, government is the best way to monitor and police societies for the public good. It’s also the best way to pool collective resources for the benefit of all people.
Regarding this latter point, the Tea Party is clearly working against public opinion and the voice of the majority. In poll after poll, it’s been shown that Americans want tax loopholes closed, so that corporations and the rich will be made to pay their fair share into the community chest we all dip into. That collective pool of capital benefits all of us when we go to school, mail a package, drink a cup of clean water, drive a car, and engage in a lot of other activities that we conduct safely and take completely for granted.
Here are just a few of the poll results I mentioned.
USA Today/Gallup—August 4-7
· 66% favor increasing income tax rates for upper-income Americans
· 60% favor increasing tax revenues by making major changes to the current federal tax code
· 63% say we should increase taxes on businesses and higher-income Americans
· 62% believe the terms of the budget ceiling agreement benefits the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class
CBS News/New York Times—August 2-3
· 63% say taxes should be increased for households earning $250,000 a year or more
· On the question of who do you blame more for the difficulties in reaching an agreement on the debt ceiling, 47% blamed Republicans and 29% blamed Democrats
Clearly, the Tea Party is working against public opinion and catering to a fringe element that doesn’t respect the social contracts that government is meant to maintain. The bigger shame is that a majority of that fringe considers itself to be conservative Christian. They might be conservative, but they cannot claim to be followers of Jesus, who during His earthly sojourn, asked us to put our neighbors’ interests on an equal footing to our own. The economics of His gospel is that we share each others’ burdens and rejoice together. The Tea Party would rather we were left to our own devices.
Posted by Alan Bahr