I went to a few tea parties last week. There was a lot of singing and yelling, lots of costumes, and LOTS of signs with coiled snakes on them. I have to admit, in a weird, Dungeons and Dragon kind of way, it was kind of fun and easy to get lost in the moment: An evil insurgent that looks like the Joker has taken over! He wants to take away our freedoms! We have to stop him! We have to get our country back!
But, once I got home, took off my costume, put away my snake flag, I started putting all the pieces together. I realized that the tea party was nothing more than a role playing fantasy game. In fact, there was nothing about the entire event that was based in reality.
The organizers or “game masters” weren’t freedom fighters, they were really just corporate goons trying to protect themselves by whipping up opposition to Obama and Democrats.
The sole remedy they were pitching— running Dems out of office— really was nothing more than a phony, thinly veiled, Republican pitch as all the “tea party candidates” also happen to be cookie-cutter Republican candidates.
The worst thing was that all the issues were all part of the fantasy as well, based far, far away from reality:
** “Cut Spending & Support the Troops!” **
These are the two most popular themes at Tea Party rallies, but military spending is far and way the largest discretionary spending item ” greater than all other discretionary spending combined!
Assuming they don’t want to cut military spending, what do they want to cut? After defense spending, the discretionary budget goes as follows: 2% goes to so-called “welfare” public assistance programs, 2% to education, 2% to Federal law enforcement, 2% to Health Research and Training, 1.5% to Veterans benefits, 1% Transportation, 1% Natural Resources, and less than one percent to commerce, energy, NASA, agriculture and disaster relief.
** “Obama is a Welfare Thug Running a Welfare State!” **
United States spends more on the military than all other countries combined— so in that sense we are more of a military state.
We spend about 2% of the budget on so-called welfare assistance programs. By comparison, housing assistance in the form of the mortgage interest and other real estate tax deductions are twice as large as welfare assistance programs. However, unlike welfare programs, over 80% of the mortgage interest tax deductions assistance go to the top 10%, most of the participants are not children, the disabled, and the elderly, and most are not in the program temporarily— they typically stay in it for several decades.
** “United States has increasingly become a SOCIALIST COUNTRY!” **
Socialism, by definition, is when everyone has the same wealth and income and there is no private industry.
The reality is that the exact opposite is true: the wealthy are more wealthier now than they have been at any other point in our nation’s history! The top 10% in this country have nearly of the nation’s wealth and make over half of the income.
The last 40 years has been an era where we have seen INCREASED PRIVATIZATION, not socialization— even hospitals, schools, and prisons have been privatized during this era!
** “Health Care Bill is SOCIALISM!” **
Regulation is not the same as socialism. in fact, as Teddy Roosevelt said many times, regulation is necessary for free enterprise to function.
Almost every aspect of our economy, including the health care sector, has been heavily deregulated over the last forty years. Health care insurance was at a crises point and putting some basic regulations— such as banning the practice of only insuring healthy people and then dropping them when they get sick— was absolutely necessary.
** “Wisconsin is a TAX HELL!” **
In reality, Wisconsin ranks near the national average for state tax collections and actually is a tax paradise for corporations and the wealthy. Generally speaking, the tax burden has shifted more and more over the last 40 years from the wealthy and corporations to the lower and middle classes.
Because corporations have been given so many property tax breaks, homeowners now pay nearly 3/4 of property taxes, while in 1970, they were only paying about half of the property tax burden. Also, relatively recent tax revenues, such as the sales tax, are regressive and disproportionately burden the poor and middle class.
How much has the state tax burden changed over the years? In Fighting Bob Lafollette’s day, corporations paid about 70% of the state’s tax burden, today that number is down to about 30%!
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Sadly, the only thing that was real about the tea party were the few hundred people that showed up to each one. Most of these people left without realizing that Tea Party was just a fantasy game, which is a tragedy, because a lot of them are clearly hurting economically and are being duped by the same corporate interests that are responsible for their economic misfortunes.