The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected. –G.K. Chesterton
Whether Democrats or Republicans hold power in Washington, the national debt continues to rise.
With Democrats in the saddle in Congress and the White House, spending and debt soar spectacularly. It slows a bit when the GOP takes over, but it never stops. Where once we gauged it in millions, it soon became billions, and now trillions of dollars to come up with a budget for the federal government. As voters and taxpayers our only choice it seems is whether we want to sink into bankruptcy now or later.
Is it time for another Boston Tea Party? There is just such a group – called the Tea Party and spontaneously organized and run – in existence today, founded to halt our government’s slide toward ruin. It is being studiously ignored by the mainstream media while being passionately courted by politicos of both major political parties. Its symbol is the Boston Tea Party of Revolutionary War fame, wherein American patriots staged their first big protest against British taxation.
The Tea Party’s platform is simple and is not beholden to either of the two major political parties: in essence it attacks excessive government spending and taxation. Its mission is to attract, educate, organize, and mobilize its fellow citizens to secure public policy consistent with its three core values of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets.
Things are in a mess in the U.S. today, but whose fault is it? Ours, of course. We elected these mad spendthrifts to Congress, and we keep them in office against all logic.
It seems every new president must put “his stamp” on the office with one or more expensive programs which express his unique personality. Jack Kennedy did it with the Peace Corps, an aggregation of young volunteers who traveled the globe doing good works, and accumulating glowing press clippings. Has anyone heard of this outfit lately? Does it still exist?
Kennedy took NASA, a government agency founded by Eisenhower, and turned it into a super expensive race to the moon.
President Barrack Obama is trying to do the same thing on a vastly ruinous scale with a trillion-dollar health care scheme. It is so frighteningly bad that it is waterlogged in a Democratic-controlled Congress. Two facets of this program are especially alarming, 1. It offers an alternative government health insurance which would eventually drive private insurers out of business, and, 2. It penalizes citizens for not having health insurance – one could be fined or worse.
Two things to remember about government programs: they always cost from 50 percent to 100 percent more than their estimates. An “estimate” in Washington lingo is simply a wild guess on the low-side. Secondly, new programs forever produce unforeseen side effects.
One of the worst side effects in history – the great marijuana problem — came about principally because of government attention. You see, back in the 1930s, pot or Mary Jane was no problem, at least on the scale we experience today That was mainly because few average citizens had even heard of it. A friend of mine, a Texan, lived through that era near the Mexican border, and described the “problem” thusly:
“Marijuana grew wild on the border and we occasionally smoked it. It was like a rite of passage. You would get on a little high then wake up in the morning with a sore throat. At that point you would decide beer was better and you went back to it.”
This local oddity became a national “problem” when newspaper and magazine writers discovered this dark threat and began to shout its menace. Hollywood jumped into the fray with two movies, Reefer Madness (plot: marijuana drives smokers insane) and Devil’s Harvest (plot: pot turns you into a sex fiend). Events really hit a crescendo when state governments – and the feds – began outlawing marijuana, creating a giant market for the drug which dogs us to this day and seems to get more expensive by the year.
One thing to keep in mind: politicians rarely retrace their steps to check on existing programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. All three have time and again been declared headed for bankruptcy, yet Congress and the White House seem to care little. There are no juicy headlines and sound bites in repairing sick programs. Right now the new big boondoggle is health care, guaranteed to get page one attention, plus rehashing on the editorial and opposite editorial pages.
A neat side effect in this instance will kick in when Social Security recipients suddenly don’t get their monthly checks, Medicare and Medical beneficiaries are cut off, and dependents in a host of other government programs (agriculture anyone?) find themselves also treading financial water. Rioting in the streets, maybe?
Note that “conservative” Republicans are almost as talented as Democrats when creating new departments and agencies with nebulous missions. Eisenhower was the daddy of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, later split into the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services. This latter body was charged with overseeing the nation’s health. What’s the matter with expanding its role to include health insurance reform? Do we need a trillion-dollar crusade to accomplish what HHS is supposed to be doing?
George W. Bush assumed the presidency early in this decade on a promise of conservative government and cuts in spending. One of the signature programs he got passed was “No Child Left Behind” for the Department of Education. Since enactment, Congress increased federal funding of education, from $42.2 billion in 2001 to $54.4 billion in 2007. No Child Left Behind received a 40.4% increase from $17.4 billion in 2001 to $24.4 billion. The funding for reading quadrupled from $286 million in 2001 to $1.2 billion.
In 1990, Bush’s daddy signed the National Service Act, creating Americorps, a wonderfully vague and boozy piece of legislation meant to solve the nation’s problems in education, public safety, health and the environment. That just about covers everything Obama is striving for, doesn’t it? But in 1993 President Bill Clinton signed the National and Community Service Trust Act, which established the Corporation for National and Community Service, and brought the full range of domestic community service programs under the umbrella of one central organization. Thus super-organized, this outfit should have long ago banished our worries in all four areas. But it seems it hasn’t.
In 2008 Barrack Obama came to power promising net spending cuts, tax cuts for nearly all Americans, an end to earmarks, legislation posted online before it is enacted, and a line-by-line review of the federal budget to remove wasteful programs. Have you seen any of this around lately? Happily the spontaneously organized Tea Party movement picked up these ideas and is using them to bludgeon do-nothing and vote-same politicians of all parties. The movement, which took its identity from the famous Boston Tea Party of Revolution fame, is interested in results, not party labels. Are you going to vote for my issues? No? Then you ain’t got my vote, Charlie.
Critics of the movement at first tried to label them as merely an adjunct of the GOP, probably because many Republicans on the right are snuggling up to party-goers. But the main party targets have so far been do-nothing Republican time-servers in Congress. And their main organizational enemies have not been the Democratic Party, but Republican state committees. Parker Griffith, GOP establishment candidate in Alabama’s fifth congressional district, finds himself facing Tea Partier Les Phillips, black businessman, Navy veteran, and native of Trinidad, who lives well in America and wants everyone to share the same dream.
Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin addressed the National Tea Party Convention, was well received, but is still kept at arm’s length in hopes she will adopt the party’s credo in full. This platform includes disgust at federal deficits, Washington’s habit of rewarding failure with handouts, and punishing success with taxes and regulations. There’s a good chance Sarah might join. Among all national Republicans today she is closest to espousing Tea Party ideas, being a devout Ronald Reaganite.
My own philosophy holds that we working stiffs founded this county on the idea that we were too busy chopping trees and slopping the hogs to get too involved in running things. So, were hired these political types to do the job for us. The list of their misfeasance and malfeasance is too long to recite here. Suffice it to say, these hired hands seem to think they are running the show, and we should be taking the orders.
It is time to straighten them out.