BY MARK MECKLER AND RALPH BENKO – The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman recently issued a critique of the Tea Party Movement: The Tea Kettle Movement. He observes: The Tea Party that has gotten all the attention, the amorphous, self-generated protest against the growth in government and the deficit, is what I’d actually call the “Tea Kettle movement” — because all it’s doing is letting off steam.
The jury may be out on that but Friedman reveals his moral blind spot by how he addresses how the movement might be harnessed to affect America’s future. It is here that Friedman reveals utter blindness to the moral significance of the Tea Party movement, which is a populist reaction to the smug elitism of our political class.
Friedman says that the solutions to the problems besetting America … would require us to actually raise some taxes — on, say, gasoline Overlooking that gas tax hikes hits the poor, the workers, and middle class disproportionately, painfully, hard… and cut others — like payroll taxes Social Security is a social insurance system. It has integrity. Tinker with its funding mechanism and it becomes welfare, losing its steady 80+% popular approval, decays and dies — a horrendous thing… and corporate taxes Corporate? How about just cutting income tax rates across the board!
It would require us to overhaul our immigration laws so we can better control our borders, let in more knowledge workers and retain those skilled foreigners going to college here.
Dr. King dreamed of an America where people would be judged by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin. We have made progress eradicating racism and must make more. But the reigning elitists now casually advocate an America where people are judged not by the content of their character but by the length of their curriculum vitae.
There are at least four industries — agriculture, building trades, hospitality, and health care absolutely dependent on semi-skilled labor. These are honest, hardworking people, as important as high tech workers, and deserving of equal dignity — and visas!
And it would require us to reduce some services — like Social Security
The old age and survivors annuity is fiscally sound and can be made so forever without “reducing some services,” code for cutting social security benefits to below subsistence. Friedman is not planning to retire on his social security checks. Hence: total insensitivity… while expanding others, like education and research for a 21st-century economy.
The elites are politically powerful and feel, smugly, entitled to vote themselves more subsidies while slighting the politically marginalized. Tilt another couple billion into Yale’s endowment? Deck nicely stacked in favor of the kids of our bluebloods in the name of “education and research for a 21st-century economy.” That is a blatant rationalization of the elite’s subsidies to itself. Why do they do it? Because they can. Period. And it is selfish and wrong.
Elitists such as Friedman miss the point behind the Tea Party, which is (explicitly) drawn directly from the Declaration of Independence: “all…are created equal.” There are a few in the elite who get it as well as does savant Robert Fuller — who coined the term “rankism” to talk about the insidious marginalization of people based on social status.
Ordinary Americans —we rank and file citizens — are rebelling at being treated as second class citizens. The principle of “all created equal” is the prime moral driver behind the Tea Party movement. The fact that the people are rebelling against elitism is something that the Thomas Friedmans, blinded by privilege, just cannot seem to grasp.
Ralph Benko, author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to use the Web to transform the world and an advisor to the American Principles Project. Mark Meckler is co-founder, and a national coordinator, of the Tea Party Patriots, http://teapartypatriots.org