Steep(ed) Taxes

CB005654Organizers are staging a national Tax Day Tea Party tomorrow as a grassroots protest of the overspending of our current administration. (No outrage regarding two wars that’ll have cost taxpayers $864 billion by the end of this fiscal year, though.)

On one hand, I admire when people seek change for issues they feel strongly about. On the other, I think loosely recreating a celebrated event in American history cheapens our colonists’ brave defiance against a powerful monarchy. Particularly if “loosely” means “half-assed.”  The only thing the hundreds of tea parties seem to have in common is a lack of tea.

The RI Tea Party has been [promoted in part] by Patriotic Resistance, which touts itself “the network for idea-based resistance to Obama-led socialistic agenda.” So far two people have RSVPd [on PR’s site]—the organizer, and a guy who mentioned something about his gun collection.

The tea party folks aren’t wrong that Lil’ Rhody folks are hurting this tax day. Signs large and small have protested for months, from “this house pays more taxes than Brown University” on Providence triple-deckers to “this is not a good year to raise North Kingston taxes” in SoCo. I’m just not sure hanging out on the State House steps during a quiet legislative week is more likely to bring about tax reform.

But I could just be confused by PR’s mixed instructions for the tea party, which pair “Try to arrange not to spend any money in protest as well. No gas No retail No entertainment NOTHING!” with “I would park at the Providence Place Mall they validate for a purchase.” Or how they ask people who can’t make the protest to mail a teabag to President Obama, or wait, maybe just a photo of a teabag. Commercial or fair trade? Is decaf acceptable? Isn’t loose tea more historically accurate, or would that spark White House fears of a new strain of anthrax? The devil’s in the details.

RI Tea Party, Wednesday, April 15th, 3-6 p.m., State House; possible extra credit for American Indian costumes

10 thoughts on “Steep(ed) Taxes”

  1. Annie Messier

    I’m pleased that you’re including the several hundred billion dollars from the prior administration, because that is a lot of money to be in debt. So why wasn’t it enough to warrant outrage before now? Taxpayers get their money back through the investments around us, from the roads we drive on to the schools our children attend. Aside from the 2007 and 2008 stimulus checks under President Bush, we don’t physically receive cash back. We have to trust that our government knows the best way to spend our money, and hell yeah, every one of us has been given reason to question that trust at some point. I’ve been questioning it for years (and I’m not even a Libertarian, although I’ve voted for several). I don’t see how others who claim to look out for fellow taxpayers found our system unworthy of protest until now.

    I’m not overlooking the stimulus package ratified by Congress last month (again: scary) and how that has drastically increased debt, but I do find it suspicious that this so-called non-partisan event was planned only after an executive change in party. Yesterday’s national and local protests deliberately invoked the Boston Tea Party, the purpose of which was for colonists to protest paying taxes to a foreign monarch rather than to their elected representatives.

    The organizers should have found a better way to rally people than invoking this portion of the Revolutionary War; something that defines our contemporary situation. Barrels of pork instead of tea would have been a good start!

  2. Annie, for the record I’m not simply including the funds from Obama’s stimulus package. including the funds doled out in the previous administration, we’re well over the trillion dollar mark.

    I’m not necessarily concerned if there’s an R or D next to the president’s name. My issue is the actual spending. And to clarify, I don’t care if it’s internal or external spending. In my opinion if the government has to support something then in the long run it will not be sustainable. That’s the libertarian in me. Also, none of that money is actually being put back into American’s pockets.

  3. Annie Messier

    Don, I’m not going to pretend to be a cheerleader for the economic stimulus. I’m scared like many others at the state of our over-consuming, under-manufacturing, 21st century skills and education-lacking country. But the stimulus deserves a chance to work just as the prior administration deserved many chances to NOT leave us in the mess we were in by the start of 2009.

    As for your own argument, please note that the stimulus, which is $787 billion rather than the trillion you cite, consists of the following:

    $260 billion over 10 years – relief for American families
    $84 billion to modernize the American federal structure (mass transit, water, buildings)
    $22 billion to increase alternative energy production (weatherization, renewable energy tax cuts) in America
    $138 billion to expand health care for Americans
    $117 bill for more improved and more affordable education for Americans
    $54 billion in relief for American small businesses
    $18 billion for science and technology research and improvements in America

    Is there a common theme in how this money is being divided? Oh yes, that’s right; none of these funds are being spent in the Middle East. Or are you going to twist that, too?

  4. Annie Messier

    The Gaspee thing would totally rock!

    I have learned more about the tea party since posting, so I apologize to Ocean State Policy Research. The PR certainly seems to take credit for organizing this event. I still get to smirk at the event in general, though (it’s in my contract). Here’s what one tea bag party supporter wrote on Channel 10’s website, further demonstrating how coherently this movement is being defined:

    “You dont have a clue! I am a leader of 1,241 members and we believe in 9 principles and 12 values.Were familly oriented people and Bob Is on target! And were not tea baggers,and yes we are not for amnisty for illegal immigrants.But rest assure I know if I say 1404.1 You have no Idea what that is.So let me make it simple hr1388 hope your kids go!Hr875 hmmm whats taht do you?Hr45 hmmmmm We are educated and we believe in freedom and liberty!But when your liberties and freedom are stripped away slowly dont come to anyone for help!Go to the 545 who are screwing it up!Tea baggers as you so call it are all law abbiding citizens some are law inforcement we all took an oath under the constitution.Which I know you didn’t but Ill speek for myself in my job I have!Good luck and maybe you should listen to Bob!”

  5. I think it’s funny. The mall hasn’t validated parking in years.

    This is seriously a big joke. I’m all for putting an end to the corporate welfare. It’s all been a big mistake, but the social welfare can stay. Let the corporations fail. Jobs will be lost, but they’ll be lost anyway. There will be new jobs created. Give that money to the low end employees who are losing their jobs, not to the corporations to give away the money in huge bonuses.

    I always find most modern American protests to be silly and pathetic. We need to have big European style protests with huge mobs of people. 20 kids and old farts on the state house steps isn’t going to send a message.

  6. Wow…took me a while to find this site…but here goes….

    I’d like to take annie’s first comments and twist them around a bit, if you please:

    “Organizers are staging a national Tax Day Tea Party tomorrow as a grassroots protest of the overspending of our current administration. (No outrage regarding two wars that’ll have cost taxpayers $864 billion by the end of this fiscal year, though.)”

    Change to:

    “Organizers are staging a national Get out of Iraq Party tomorrow as a grassroots protest of the overspending of our current administration. (No outrage regarding over the more than a trillion that will cost taxpayers by the end of…well, there just might not be an end in sight.)”

    Interesting how a few changes in word-choice and focus can make something sound. Back to the Tea Party, what if lived in a world where there was no income tax, say late 1890s or so? I think that one of the more critical wars we will fight over the next 10-20 years will be the one in which our government fixes problems or people fix the problems facing our community. With our recent economic downturn, I think we can see whose winning that war.

    You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

  7. “The RI Tea Party has been organized by Patriotic Resistance, which touts itself “the network for idea-based resistance to Obama-led socialistic agenda.” So far two people have RSVPd—the organizer, and a guy who mentioned something about his gun collection.”

    This is completely false. While it’s possible that this group (which no one has heard) might possibly be sending a few people to the event in Rhode Island, they have nothing to do whatsoever with organizing the event at all. The local event has largely been organized with just a few grassroots individuals, and is primarily sponsored by the Ocean State Policy Research Institute.

    PS We’re working on a Gaspee thing. Anybody have a spare boat? 😉

  8. Buncha crybabies. When it’s their guy being all socialist and nationalizing insurance companies and firing CEOs, it’s OK. When it’s the other side, “IT’S TYRANNY!”

    This is the point where they would say “well, just move somewhere else.” Unfortunately for them, the right-wing nutjob countries are few and far between now that the US is sane again.

  9. Shouldn’t we really be recreating the burning of the Gaspee.

    Which, BTW you Boston lightweights, is how you send a message to the crown. Get a ship to run aground, board it, take everybody hostage, burn the mother down to the waterline.

    “Oooh, we played dress up and threw the tea in the water.” Scary.

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