Thursday, April 16, 2009

Reflections on Tea Parties

Okay, so I didn't actually participate in any of the national Tea Parties yesterday. I did drive by and saw the huge crowd around City Hall (and across the street and by the mall) here in town. And yes, I was heartily encouraged to see so many showing their support. Yes, I was lazy and didn't want to deal with the cold wind that was blowing yesterday. I've mentioned I am a Southern California whimp several times already, right?

For those of you who don't know, the tea parties are protests of the current government spending spree that will mean tax increases down the road. The name is taken from the famous Boston Tea Party during the days leading up to the American Revolution.

Now as one person was quick to point out, the original charge of "No taxation without representation" doesn't apply here. These are our representatives who are voting on this massive spending bills.

But the problem still comes down to spending, spending, spending. As I ranted two months ago, the "responsible budget" that our current President has proposed is a joke. A responsible budget is a balanced budget. And a balanced budget is no where in site.

Here in California, we've just had our sale tax increase by a percentage point. And yet we are still in crisis mode.

And that is going to really be true in 10 or 20 years at the Federal level. We can't keep spending money like crazy like we have for decades. And all signs are that it will only get worse. Eventually, we have to pay back the money that we are borrowing. And when that happens, our country will end.

But here's the thing that struck me. The critics of the Tax Day Tea Parties dismissed them as conservative reaction to President Obama. That would be true except for a couple of minor points.

Minor point #1: I was actually more than ready for Bush to leave office because of his spending policies. If he were still in office right now, I'd be just as upset about government waste.

Minor point #2: I honestly believe McCain would be behaving the same way were he in the Oval Office right now. And you know what? I would still support the fight against government waste if he were.

And yes, I will keep supporting this cause no matter who is in charge of what part of government until we get people in office who represent true responsible budgeting. The type of budgeting that everyone in the real world must deal with on a daily basis.

3 comments:

Matt said...

I didn't participate in this Tea Party either (but there were reportedly upwards of 4,000 people in Cincinnati, including my sister and her family) because I was working, but I was at our last one March 15.

I would disagree with your second point, I don't believe that McCain would be as bad as Obama is. He wouldn't be perfect, but I think he would be slightly more responsible (and definitely light years better in other non-fiscal areas).

I was heartened to see how many of the Tea Parties there have been and how many have attended. I hope that they are effective in changing people's minds...

And on your first point, again I think that Bush was better than Obama is, but wasn't ever a great fiscal conservative. I know the past is romanticized, but can't we find another Reagan? He wasn't perfect either, but he had character, principles, and did a good enough job to leave an impressive legacy (instead of the legacy of ruin, akin to FDR, likely to be left by current politicians).

No, I don't follow politics at all or get interested, why do you ask? ;-)

~Matt

Mark said...

As far as I am concerned, there has not been one good response to anything since the crisis "started" in September from any politian of any political party.

No, I'm not getting cynical and bitter in my middle age, why do you ask?

Brian said...

Mark,

Search for Modern Whig Party. It is an interesting setup, that is for sure, but it is time that some third-party group step up to the plate.

I think that the issue right now is there are too many political games. "We want this, you want that, and there is no compromise" or "I'll scratch my back, if you scratch mine." It has been 150 years since we have had this much division in the country. Talks of Texas leaving the Union are far fetched, but I certainly could see states bolting.

I will admit that we have low taxes in the United States when compared to other parts of the World - notably our neighbor to the north and pretty much all of Europe. At the same time, we spend (or want to spend) as much as they do. The people of this country "want to have their cake and eat it too." Until that mentality changes or until the taxation matches the spending, things will not improve. It is that simple.

I believe education is one of the simpler things to fix. There are many great charter schools out there that are doing things right. These schools are outperforming a large number of regular public schools. Why? The charters are locally controlled. In some, the teachers are part of the board and help with decision making. The teachers design curriculum. It is not a pre-packaged, one-size-fits-all approach. All schools could (and should) become independent entitites. This would do quite a bit to help meet the vision of NCLB.

Healthcare is another area that could be improved. The Feds praise Kaiser for its efficiency and structure. Kaiser, with how its clinics are structured, is the closest thing this country has to socialized medicine/universal healthcare that other countries have. It is a model that should be emulated. The problem is that there are so many insurers out there that it could prove to be a nightmare. It will be interesting to see what happens. I like Kaiser, because I can go to any facilty within the system, have my records visible, and receive treatment. People on the outside of the Kaiser system rely on a disjointed system.

Just a few thoughts to ponder.