I didn’t plan on this, I didn’t seek it out. I stumbled into a tea party protest. It is not the kind of thing you want to stumble onto. I wasn’t prepared mentally; all of the sudden there was a surge of desire to enter a debate. I did not do this. Part of me feels like I chickened out, I had a place I wanted to be, and I needed a clear mind to do what I was going to do, but part of me feels like it I blew it. This was a golden opportunity to delve into the psyche of the tea party. To either confirm or refute my opinion that they are a bunch of baby boomers that watch fox news and haven’t given any serious thought to how the government can work and or fail to work. It was a chance to delve into the psychosis that would have someone supports the Bush tax cuts that had little to know effect on their lives and rail against the Obama tax cuts. The problem was I was a jittery mess. I was literally shaking with anticipation and fear. Anticipation that someone would start talking to me, fear that when I started I would never be able to stop, the torrent of facts, statistics, precedents, and logic would vomit from my mouth like split pea soup.
I’m a liberal, I know this, and I also realize conservatives have some legitimacy when they say government is wasteful. I work for the government I see how we waste money every day. The reason why government wastes money though is to cover its ass. Most of the waste I encounter is of the wearing a belt with suspenders kind, though we usually work on a belt, suspenders, drawstring and elastic waistband variety. Ultimately though you have to ask the question would private industry do any better. From where I stand the answer is no. The reason is simple; there are no altruistic companies in the world. The bottom line in business is how much will it cost. This is the fundamental problem with the notion of limiting the role of government. No matter how bureaucratic a government system gets it is always for the purpose of safety. The government’s bottom line is the public well being. It is truly a question of accountability. Government is necessarily accountable to its citizenry while the private sector is beholden to it’s share holders.
The most telling anecdote I can make on this is again from the radio show This American Life, the episode in question was about a group of libertarians looking to establish a foothold in one state and essentially take over. Their goal was to vote themselves into power and create a libertarian utopia. What was most remarkable was the reporter was talking to one of the leaders of this movement, as they were walking through a public park. She was trying to figure out how the system would work, and in the case of the public park it wouldn’t. From a corporation stand point there is little to no benefit to sustaining the massive support necessary to keep a public park running. At least there isn’t one unless you charge money, or sell advertising space, or rent out commercial space within it. None of these by the way would be enough to offset the cost of maintaining a large park like say central park, nor would they make a park a desirable location to explore. Government does what we know is right but if someone asked us to chip into a communal fund to do it on our own we’d ask why me? Think about it, in your home you recycle your paper and plastic, but if you bought a can of soda on the street would you go out of your way to look for a recycling bin (yes some of you would, but we all know there are much more who wouldn’t)?
Once you accept that government has a role in our daily lives, if you are still advocating the Tea party movement then you must be arguing that no one should be acting in the public’s best interest or safety for the government programs you’d like eliminated. Realize that in addition to accepting the elimination of these programs you’d also be accepting the inevitable upper big branch mine disaster equivalent in the programs you are willing to chuck. Look I’m not saying government does everything right. In fact there are tons of things I think it does wrong, or could do better: The tea party though is talking about eliminating government’s role in our daily life which is in truth our role in our daily life. All I can say to them is here is a very partial list: viable drinking water, elimination of harmful chemicals in our foods, roads and bridges, sustainable reliable electricity outside the city, Medicare, social security, phone service in rural location, broadcast television, truth in advertising, garbage disposal, city-state-federal parks, police, firefighters, the internet, base line education services, public transportation, and the court of law; start picking where don’t you want your voice heard.