Mind your business.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The 2009 American Tea Party- No Taxation Without Representation?

Today I was browsing the blogosphere and came across this post by The Catholic Libertarian:

I went to the NYC Tea Party yesterday. The tea parties have been held around the country to protest the stimulus bill. The parties seem somewhat small right now, and amateurish. The one I attended in New York had a bunch of people in City Hall Park listening to a series of folks speaking through a megaphone.


OK -- it is a beginning. Conservative/libertarian protests rarely come close to the protests the left is able to put together. Mostly I think it is cultural. The American right tends to be more individualistic and somewhat distrustful of protests. Protests too uncomfortably look like mobs.

Further, as PJ O'Rourke used to say "conservatives have jobs" and generally have better things to do other than stand around listening to people complain.

And I noticed this comment by Rodak:

Tea Party, my ass. The slogan then was "No taxation without representation".
But you have represenation. It's just that you think that when it doesn't go your way, it doesn't count; it's negated by not catering to your perceived personal interests. Sheesh.
What these things should be billed as is "Wall Street" Parties--as in the movie--as in "Greed is Good". Get real.

Here is how I responded. Feel free to borrow and tweak as necessary if you come across someone who thinks as Rodak does about the 2009 American Tea Party. You might help change their mind:

Rodak, another slogan back then was "Don't tread on me."

And as Thomas Jefferson said:

"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."

The "argument from democracy" is morally impotent because the sanction of even a majority of voters is insufficient to justify injury to someone's "life, liberty, and property," another slogan of the revolutionary era in American history.

And in addition, is it fair to say that by funding spending with excessive borrowing (to make an understatement), our government has effectively levied taxes and placed a heavy yoke on minors and citizens yet to be born? You would agree of course, that they have no representation or voice in the matter?

And how can we say that we are being represented when our representatives weren't given a chance to read the legislation before voting on it? The secrecy and closed-door committee meetings seem rather oligarchical than republican.

I share your outrage at Wall Street, so I find it interesting that you would associate me and the other Tea Party protestors with Wall Street. We're just as angry about the financial bailout as we are about the stimulus package. The outrage against both has come from the same quarters of thought and punditry.

I for one, am a university student completing my final year of study in Entrepreneurship. I am a self-employed small business owner who works hard to squeeze revenue out of my business, not a rich, old Wall Street type.

You cannot fairly pigeon-hole us by making unsubstantiated sweeping generalizations. My overall impression of the tea party protest in Nashville was that most attendees were hardworking, blue-collar taxpayers, the same people who turned out and blocked Tennessee's proposed state income tax years ago.


  1. I have to agree with PJ O'Rourke. Many times I see protest on the news and I think to myself don't these people have jobs and families. Or the ones that are throngs of students, usually the anarchist. As a student I never had that much free time. I got a lunch break and a study break that was it. Other than that I was in class or the lab. I believe there are a class of professional protesters. That being said, if there is a tea party within driving distance of me here in PA, I will be there. Thanks for your blog. Dave

  2. Lol, hey I understand.

    I could handle a throng of anarchist students by the way... it's the throngs of unquestioning supporters of the establishment and advocates of the status quo that discourage me.

  3. The issue is not taxation without representation -- it is taxation without diliberation.

    This bill was rushed through as an "emergency". An emergency is when foreign troops have taken Cleveland or a hurricane wipes out a city. Those are items not dealt with in a regular appropriations bill.

    No one read this bill before voting on it.

    And while as a candidate he promised a 5 day review period before signing, there was none -- it was an "emergency" after all.

    I do not want to downplay what is going on out there. It is bad yes. A bill to provide relief to the suddenly unemployed was a good idea, as well as some sort of economic stimulus. But this was an appropriations bill, filled with stuff that would not have survived the appropriations process otherwise.

    As for the size of the protest, I think it is cultural. We on the libertarian/conservative side tend to be distrustful of political crowds -- they too easily can be turned into mobs.

  4. "Taxation without deliberation" ...nicely put.

    And Obama can't claim it was an emergency and that's why he signed it without putting it on for people to read for five days... because if it was an emergency, he shouldn't have taken the weekend off for a vacation in Chicago before signing it. He's either a liar or a jerk.

  5. I would like to say I came up with it, but I saw it in a photo of one of the protests.

    Now remember, I am a minarchist, not an Objectivist or an anarchist (though I jokingly like to say that I am an anarchist after three martinis, but at my age I pass out after the second!). So I view government as a necessary thing, not neccessarily evil. I just want it to do as little as possible

  6. A-MEN! Your response is very well put. I plan to borrow it, and borrow it often.

    Thank you!

  7. No problem, TennZen. Thank you for taking the word out to the streets. A silent revolution of conversations over coffee will go a long way towards changing hearts and minds.

  8. Anthony- minarchy is the way to go! Thanks for letting me camp out on your comment thread ;) I've added you to my blogroll.

  9. And thank you -- I plan to add you to my blogroll, I had the choice last night of going to a basketball game or working on my blog -- guess what I choose?

    I liked the tea party outfit!

  10. Thanks!

    What makes you assume it was me? ;)

  11. And as Thomas Jefferson said:

    "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."

    And when the "other forty-nine" get upset enough - they revolt! Thus the OG Boston Tea Party,the American Revolution.

  12. Another American Founding Father said that all it takes is an irate, tireless minority...

  13. It's a democracy. Majority rules. You don't like it, feel free to move to another country. Iraq is looking to repopulate.

  14. I hope you don't really believe that "might makes right," even if "might" in this case is an electoral majority. Did you even read the post? I already answered your assertion therein:

    "The 'argument from democracy' is morally impotent because the sanction of even a majority of voters is insufficient to justify injury to someone's 'life, liberty, and property.'"

    Please respond to this answer rather than simply reasserting the claim it rebuts.

    In America your freedom means more than the freedom to leave if you don't like having the rest of your freedoms violated. It means your freedom from coercive intrusion on your life, liberty, and property.


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