Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tea Party Tuna

Jenny Beth Martin, who's the national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, has said the conservative grassroots movement is dedicated to furthering three core values: fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets.

The founding fathers of America, the very ones who wrote the Constitution, would be the first to say that their perspective on how the country has developed was significantly limited. In the many decades since that founding 111 Congresses have struggled with balancing those three core values with varying degrees of success. On one extreme you would have a constitutionally limited government that would spend only what it was able to raise through taxation and there would be no limits on what a business could do. The limits on taxes would predicate a small government and without a governing body, businesses could do whatever they want to do.

The problem is this is exactly what was the founding conditions of this nation. There were no controls, no regulations, no unified oversight and terrible things used to take place. The government we have today was built up in response to the irresponsibility of people, communities and businesses. <>The Tea Party Patriots and the We Love America Crowd would now sacrifice the progress we have made in the past 43 decades since the founding of America. They would sacrifice it for personal gain at the expense of their fellows. They would ignore the future in order to enjoy the present. Isn’t that how we got into the mess we are in just now?

Without a strong well funded Federal government, Africans would still be property to be used to provide slave labor. It would still be legal to kill Indigenous Peoples of this continent to take their lands and secure the perimeters against retaliation. I would be allowed to dump my feces in your source of drinking water. A business could say they own a parcel of land and cut down all the trees and move on to another piece of land. Another company could dig out all the coal from under your house and let it sink into the earth. They could use up the health of thousands of miners and discard them on the principle that to take care of them would reduce profits and drive up your cost of heat and electricity.

A land owner could gate the passage through the property and demand a toll to be allowed to pass or he could deny you entirely because your complexion is not what he will allow. He could use that arbitrary decision to limit the ability of various ethnic groups from being allowed to exist in ‘his’ land. Lodging and food establishments could arbitrarily decide who they will and won’t allow to patronize their businesses. After all it is free markets at work here. There are no effective government entities that can say otherwise.

My manufacturing business makes Polychlorinated biphenyls, better known as PCBs, so that electric transmission systems can switch their high-voltages on and off. I can make a bigger profit by buying an adjacent parcel of land and burying my waste products. I can offer the industry a lower price, too. You can get less expensive electricity as the result. It is a good thing that my parcel of waste land is not in my customers’ back yards. It is in the back yard of a minority neighborhood. Even better yet, I can sell that land to a developer for low cost housing. You don’t believe me, Google “Love Canal.” I love the ineffective under-funded Federal government, that is constitutionally limited and believes in free markets. The free market will self-regulate me, NOT. If you come after me, there is always bankruptcy. I will sell off my shares of the ‘bad’ business and move on to somewhere else. Let someone else clean up the mess.

You know pigeon-poop properly mixed with my secret ingredient will cure liver spots, relieve migraine pain, allow you to live an average of 7.4 years longer and increase your memory skills by 48%. For a limited time only, a 30 day supply is only $19.95 plus Shipping and Handling. But wait… there’s more! Hey, you, stay out of my business. Your government interference is hurting my bottom line and limiting my ability to employ dozens of underpaid phone solicitors that contribute to the free market GDP.

Look at my business proposal. With a 0.1% market penetration in the American market we will have 300,000 brand loyal customers who will be with us for life. Life is defined as 10.3 years on the average. Each loyal customer will consume $50 to $100 worth of our product each day. Projected annual gross revenues is $1.095 trillion. Coca growers will work for a few Dollars per day, and our revenues are $3 billion per day. We don’t need the government making and restrictive laws that bolster prices, we can just fix them ourselves. The market will self-regulate the price and the consumption.

This is enough with extreme and outrageous example. Nobody says that they want no government at all. They just don’t want the government that they don’t want. They want to graze over the choices and fill their shopping basket with the things they like. They want free markets until the cable TV conglomerate wants to add another $10 per month to their bill. The like free markets until an airline seeks to charge an additional fee for carry-on bags. They don’t want property taxes on their houses but they do want police and fire protection that is funded by property taxes. They don’t want to pay school taxes for the failed public schools but they do believe that everyone should support themselves and their families with a job, or two or three. They want to limit spending but cannot decide who will be denied health care, food and shelter. They want high prices for what they have to sell or rent but low prices for what they need to buy and lease.

The Tea Party brigades scoff so loudly at the idea of a corporate bailout for huge financial institutions “because it rewards bad management” but fail to realize that their own pension funds might be heavily invested in those very institutions.

In the Tea Party rhetoric “constitutionally limited Federal government” and “fiscal responsibility” are euphemisms for reduced Medicaid and reduced “welfare” money for poor folk. In an interlocking way, it is also a euphemism for lower taxes on wealthy citizens. The multitudes of low income workers far outnumber the people who are chronically unemployed. For them there is little opportunity to contribute to the pool of funds that are needed to keep the country running and the economy expanding. They are the necessary recipients of the supports that other citizens pay for with their tax dollars.

Without those supports to buoy their position, the bottom socio-economic floor drops out dragging with it millions of people who reside at the cusp between middle and lower class strata. Without those supports for they who need it, the rest of us are poorer for it. If they are in need of medical attention, they become ill and the nation as a whole is sicker for it. If they are not educated, the nation is less educated on the average. If they are not upwardly mobile, they stagnate and decline in stature creating a future that is more heavily populated with less educated, less healthy and in need of more financial support. Poverty breeds need, need breeds solutions, those solutions are many times crime and violence, black markets and further degradation of the American society. If we treat people with respect for their needs then we are an honorable society. If we treat people as an opportunity to squeeze out of them a measure of labor while ignoring the things they need in order to have a decent life, then we are treating them like the Tuna that the businessman needed to be sell before it spoiled.

Fiscal responsibility. What does that really mean? To the Fiscal Conservative in the 21st century, it means only passing a bill into law that costs money if there is an offsetting reduction in spending on something else. It means not raising any tax rates nor adding any new mechanisms for revenue increases. It means that the only way to balance the budget is to cut spending on line items that Fiscal Conservatives do not like and depending on a higher GDP each year on which existing tax rates already derive revenues. In the 20th century, Fiscal Responsibility meant increasing the national debt, lowering tax rates, while continuing to accrue future obligations that were being ignored in the present.

Three of those obligations are the interest on the debt, Social Security and Medicaid. All three of those items grow in size without anyone having to do anything to make the situation worse. We do make the situation worse though.

We issue more debt because the other items in the budget exceed our ability to cut them out or cut them back. Social Security and Medicare costs increase because the unit costs of goods and services inflate, there are millions more people reaching 65 and we are creating mechanisms for individuals to live longer. Medicaid costs increase because there is such an unmet need by the American people due to the inaccessibility of medical services because it doesn’t exist at all and because they cannot get transportation to the services that do exist.

Doubly disastrous is the fact that poorer people are less healthy due to lack of health education, susceptibility to marketing campaigns that sell low nutrition consumables, the lack of transportation, and the lack of early medical intervention before routine ailments become pernicious and very costly.

Fiscal Irresponsibility. What does that really mean? If there was governing leadership that looked at what the present and future needs of the American people were, then we would be prepared to face that future without worrying about how we were going to pay for it. If a working person puts aside sufficient funds during the working years, then when retirement comes around there is comfort and security in those remaining years. If the government has a future obligation to pay and funds a part of that obligation each year until the expenditure is made, then we have Fiscal Responsibility. Otherwise we have fiscal Irresponsibility.

Since we have an unfunded obligation for all the retirees who will receive Social Security and Medicare benefits, we have Fiscal Irresponsibility. Since scarcely anyone can live on Social Security alone we have Fiscal Irresponsibility. Some people could have put aside sufficient income for a private retirement account, but most do not have that ability. Those who did put aside large amounts of income, lost it in the last two collapses of the economy (2001 and 2008.)

Fiscal Irresponsibility is in part defined by the neglect of essential systems we rely upon every day. Those systems are what keeps America from being a part of the Third World. Municipal water treatment plants, sewage treatment plants, the water distribution networks and the sewage collection infrastructures make America a superior place to live. Our roads, bridges, railroads, airports, subway, bus and paratransit systems make living in this country possible. All of those essential systems are currently in decline and THAT constitutes Fiscal Irresponsibility. It is not that paying for it with the issuance of debt or the raising of taxes that constitutes the irresponsible act. It is ignoring the decay and decline for such a long time that all of the maintenance and repair costs come at the same time.

Fiscal Irresponsibility is borrowing money to pay for operating costs. Fiscal Irresponsibility is borrowing too much too often to pay for new construction projects while neglecting the inevitable replacement of what we build. Fiscal Irresponsibility is being shortsighted in the planning process and getting stuck with a huge bill in the end.

So the Tea Party Patriots and the We Love America Crowd would now sacrifice the progress we have made in the past 43 decades since the founding of America. They would sacrifice it for personal gain at the expense of their fellows. They would ignore the future in order to enjoy the present. Isn’t that how we got into this mess we are in now?