Posted by: mutantpoodle | April 15, 2010

The Aggrieved

This story from NPR, comparing the modern-day tea partiers to their colonial forebears, was enough to make me laugh. And then bury my head in my hands. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Actually, the comparison itself – from historian Joe Thorndike – is pretty fair:

Thorndike, who is also director of the Tax History Project at the nonprofit group Tax Analysts, says many people seem to think the Boston Tea Party was a protest about high taxes. But it wasn’t; he says it was about that famous phrase in fourth-grade history books: “No taxation without representation.”

It was the idea of being taxed by a government that they didn’t have any say in.

“What the original Tea Party was trying to drive home was that the British did not have a right to impose a tax on the Colonies, because the Colonies did not have representation in Parliament,” Thorndike says. “That’s a very different sort of message than saying, ‘This tax is just too damn high for us.’ I think the Tea Party today — at least it strikes me — is more about just taxes being too high.”

So far, so good. Because, after all, all the folks coming to those massive modest Tea Party demonstrations do get to vote for their elected representatives, right?

Better still, Thorndike touches on the larger issue of the Boston Tea Party: the protectionism towards – which he rightly refers to as a bailout of – the British East India Trading Company:

England was looking to prop up the British East India Company. So it gave a tax break that enabled the company to undercut Colonial tea merchants, which threatened to put a lot of them out of business.

“They wanted to help bail out this company, which was struggling under a big debt load, if that sounds familiar,” Thorndike says, adding that this is similar to what has motivated the modern-day Tea Party movement.

I touched on this element of the Original Boston Tea Party here, nearly a year ago. at the time, I said:

…find me a group that’s focused on eliminating corporate America’s disproportionate influence on policy in this country, and I’ll be right there with them.

The modern Tea Partiers, practically wearing NASCAR-style uniforms with Chamber of Commerce and Club for Growth logos on them, don’t qualify.

But my favorite moment was when NPR’s Chris Arnold, interviewing Christen Varley, President of the Boston Tea Party movement, points out that taxes have gone down in the past year. For almost everybody.

When it comes to taxes, the Obama administration has actually cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans through a federal income tax credit.

But Varley says she doesn’t believe that — no matter what the government says. And regardless, she says she’s worried about what’s to come with the rising deficit.

Facts be damned!

Can we trade the Tea Partiers to Second Life for a movement to be named later? Virtual reality has a better handle on logic and consistency than these folks.

Andrew Sullivan called the original tea parties “tea-tantrums.” One year later, that’s still spot on.


  1. Tea party movement turns one or when good ideas go wrong
    02/27/201011 Comment(s)
    I have said this over and over again and yet it still bears repeating, ever since it turned 50 the world around me just seems to get more and more confusing. Let’s just drift into the blogosphere for a moment. Tea Party Celebrates its first year as a social movement. Well good for you and many more, I have to admit that I found this example on Mr. Google I had another idea to use but will go with this one.

    The bright idea: It’s tough reaching those back molars with dental floss, and it’s even harder to floss them. That’s why Oral-B created the Hummingbird flosser, the Cadillac of dental aids. The ergonomically designed, vibrating electric flosser was made to gently massage those hard to reach spots and turn the flossing experience into a dream.
    The downer: Oral-B investors had no idea the Hummingbird flosser would make picking padlocks a dream, too. With a few modifications—mainly changing the power source from a AAA battery to a D battery and replacing the floss with a pick—nefarious MacGyvers can create a vibrating pick that will pop open most padlocks. Even those inept at building can follow the step-by-step directions on the Web (not that we’re encouraging it!).

    Bright Idea #2

    The bright idea: In 1889, Marie Currie and husband Pierre discovered radium and coined the term radioactive. And while little was known about the alkaline earth metal, one thing was for sure: it glowed in the dark! Suddenly, the public was captivated by raduim’s luminescence. Manufacturers painted airplane dials, instruments, and watch faces with radium, spawning a huge glow-in-the-dark fad. Women began painting their nails with it to impress suitors, for Halloween, people even coated their faces with the stuff to get that oh-so-ghoulish look.
    The downer: A dentist in New Jersey noticed that many of his patients, who worked at U.S. Radium, suffered from deteriorating jaws or phossy jaw. Worse still, the Essex County coroner discovered that women from a plant were dying of severe anemia and leukemia. By 1925, he’d collected enough data to prove that radiation was so high in the women’s bodies that it was likely the cause of death. As if exposure to the material wasn’t bad enough, many of the watch-painting women had been dipping the tip of their paintbrushes in their mouths to make a finer point for painting tiny numbers on watches. Unfortunately, it took physicians a little while to officially link the substance with cancer.

    My example was easier

    George W. Bush, enough said

    So my thoughts are the NEW tea party started out sort of like when Ross Perot ran for President the first time that is, remember he quit that he came back he quit a again, he came back. Then he picked Retired Admiral James Stockdale as a running mate. If you remember he had to turn up his hearing aid to hear the questions at the Vice Presidential debates. So I’m thinking Ross good idea bad game plan. So as the Tea party goes, good idea smaller government okay I’m with you. But wait there’s more of of a sudden there is civil war breaking out the only thing missing is the Union Jack and a tree for the hanging. What happened to a simple protest?

    What happened to the good slogans?

    “Better dead then Red”

    “Make Love not War”

    “Take one for the Gipper”

    “Let’s go Mets”

    “Let the good times Roll”

    Here what we have today

    “Obama is a Nazi”

    “That’s not my baby”

    “I left my gun at home this time”

    “Free markets not free labor”

    “Live free or Die”

    I’m not one to question one’s beliefs but, stop and think for a second who is stopping anybody freedom? 82% of this country wants some kind of healthcare reform. Me I just want the same kind of care for my family as the elected officials have. I don’t understand the angst people are having with this issue. Maybe if we stop thinking with a herd mentality , and maybe think for ourselves without the help from radioheads or TV whackjobs we would all come to the same conclusion. Oh I forgot Live free or die.


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