Free Markets, Free People


On the “tea parties” and “going Galt”

I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but…*

I don’t mind people protesting against massive government expansion and taxation.  But do they have to call their protests “tea parties”?

Mailing bags of tea to Congress costs very little and risks nothing.  It’s just one step up from sending a strongly worded email, which is only one step up from an online form letter or petition.

Do they know what the Boston Tea Party was about?  And if so, what are they implying when they send tea to Congress?  We have representation to go with our taxation, more direct representation than the American Revolution established.  If the “tea party” protests of 2009 aren’t really related to the original Tea Party, why draw a comparison?

I’d be more impressed if they fired a shot across the bow and coordinated a national day for cranking up their withholding allowances, just as high as they can.  They’re planning their next party on Tax Day, right?  One might think they’d be interested in ceasing to lend their earnings interest-free to the government.  They might take some satisfaction in doing something that actually shows up on the government’s ledger.

I’d be convinced of their sincerity if they subsequently considered actually not paying their taxes next year if the government didn’t change its policies.  That would be civil disobedience, as opposed to loud-but-obedient.  But still, hold the tea.

The “going Galt” thing has been a bit better — at least it involves refusing to produce — but “John Galt” is a rather radical standard, ladies and gentlemen.  Reducing your income so that you don’t pay the higher marginal taxes in the next bracket; partially shutting down businesses and taking more leisure time; retiring early.  These are nice, but it’s like “going Martin Luther King, Jr.” without risking jail or invoking the Alamo without risking death.

Galt refused to let the public seize his creations for their (immense) benefit.  He led an illegal strike.  He accepted nothing more than a night watchman state.  He openly scorned all religion and mysticism.  His opposition to government was not of the “vote the bums out 20 months from now” variety, or merely underperforming–although he did discuss underperformers in his marathon speech, much of which is dramatized here (note: videos spoil much of the book – the part about underperformers is at 7:20 or so in Part 14).

Not that radical?  Not willing to take that kind of risk?  Then don’t play dress-up.

Content yourself to call your actions by their proper names.  If you know what the fictional character symbolizes, and that’s not a standard by which you judge yourself, it’s better that you don’t compare your actions to his.

________

* This isn’t a Dennis Miller-style rant.  Sorry.  If I tried to emulate that, I’d just pale in comparison.  Speaking of which…

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35 Responses to On the “tea parties” and “going Galt”

  • Not that radical?  Not willing to take that kind of risk?  Then don’t play dress-up.

    You’re my f*cking hero, assh*le.
    Yeah, that’s right… assh*le.  You’re the exact kind of assh*le that we need.

    I’m weary of all the pretend run to the hills, horde your gold, bring along the axe-meister, bullsh!t that I’ve heard over the last few months and back in the early nineties.  If you’re serious about revolution, then get serious… or STFU.
    I don’t wanna hear anymore bullsh!t about tea parties being cancelled by rain.  I don’t wanna hear anymore bullsh!t about how you couldn’t organize a protest without a bullhorn.

    Hey man, just like you… at the moment… I’m just another assh*le with a computer.  If you organize any real movement, then drop me an email.  I mastered the axe when I was a child.  And hell, well beekeeping skills are eternal.

    Untill then, I’ll be just another assh*le with a computer.
    Just like you.

    Cheers.

    • Yep, that’s what we are.  Jerks with computers, criticizing rather than doing.
      Well, I’m doing something, just not organizing a whole new movement.  But if I did, I’d give the movement a proper name!

      • Nope, not jerks.  Assh*les.  There’s a difference.

        Before you were just jerks, but since Obama took over, now you’re assh*les.

        Where were your calls for rebellion when Bush was in power abusing the conservative principles he promised to uphold?  Hmm?

        See?

        • Heh … it’s always fun to watch you when you get rolled. You get so testy.

          Speaking of pathetic, reduced to “jerks” and “assh*les”?

          My, my …

          Cheers.

          • This is me getting “rolled”?

            The only way I see this as me getting “rolled”, is if you were a spoiled brat making the rules as you go along.

            But please, tell me how I was “rolled”.

            No, no… please… Tell me just how I was “rolled”.

            You’re reduced to childish insults.  Sad, really.

          • Heh … Pogue claiming someone else is using “childish insults”.

            Now THAT’s Orwellian.

            Cheers.

        • Where were your calls for rebellion when Bush was in power abusing the conservative principles he promised to uphold? Hmm?

          That might be a good point, if I were calling for rebellion. And if I hadn’t criticized Bush for being a Christian Democrat. And if scale had nothing to do with it.

  • Not that radical?  Not willing to take that kind of risk?  Then don’t play dress-up.

    Wrong, every radical movement needs a wider less out there base.   They exist as intellectual support and potential recruits and cover.  Undertaking a marginal direct action is only ever effective if the radical is able to define themselves as part of an identifiable wider group. 

    • Heh, “Wrong”?
      You do make an interesting point, though.  I’ll have to think on that.

      • Think of Mao Tse Tung; “The guerilla moves among the people as a fish swims in the sea”. Somebody has to provide all the mundane things (food, clothing, money, shelter, etc.) to all the heroes.

  • I’m with Angus on this one.  Movements that start out as radical actions are immediately marginalized an fizzle out quickly.  Movements that begin with just a few people loudly voicing their opposition to something stand a much better chance of picking up popular support.  These tea parties may seem small, ineffective and innocuous now, but they have the potential to grow precisely because they aren’t being led by scary, radical activists calling for drastic action.  Indeed, the protests are likely voicing concerns that many people have, but that few want to be the first to do anything about.  If sympathetic souls who are now on the sidelines see enough movement in the direction they like, they will jump on board, making it OK for even more people to do so.

    As for the tea party name, I think the idea is that the people are directly standing up to the government on an issue of taxation that suggests the name.  It’s not entirely accurate from an historical standpoint, of course, but close enough to build a movement around.  Recall too that the Boston Tea Party was actually non-violent and viewed with haughty disinterest by the British.  It didn’t work out too well for them in the end.

  • Sending teabags to Congress will be about as effective as sending bricks when the issue was border security, or any of a number of other protests.

    There are only two ways that I think we can address the issue of the government’s looting of the successful to benefit the unsuccessful:
    1) We can bring the government to a standstill by applying for any and every form of payment, loan, subsidy, or grant, whether we qualify or not; by requesting forms, brochures, pamphlets, applications, FOIA requests, anything that someone in a government office is going to have to process somewhere; and by demanding any time we interact with the government that every i be dotted and t crossed, every formailty, rule and procedure complied with.

    2) We can refuse to pay taxes.  I don’t now what the likelihood of incarceration or prosecution is, but if there’s 15 million of us doing it, the odds decrease dramatically.

    It’s not going to be addressed by whining to Limbaugh, Boortz, and Hannity.  It’s not going to be addresssed by letters and teabags.  It’s not going to be addressed by the GOP, whose motto appears to be, “We’re for the same things they are, only just not as much of it” — a path doomed to failure.  It’s only going to be addressed by a concerted effort to break the system, either by overwhelming it, or by starving it of funds.

  • I’ve already got my with holding allowance maxed…both state and federal.  I got a raise and my federal tax quintupled.  it went from 6 bucks a month to 31, the greedy bastards.

    If was going to send them anything i would send them some reading material like “Budgeting for dummies ‘never managed nothing but a campaign’ presidents” “How not run a country into the dirt” “How to tell the American people you are really a hypocritical POS” “Investing for Dummies How not to trash the companies you invested billions of other peoples money in” and “How to duck tomatoes and other rotten vegetables after you have crashed your countries economy”

    You can pick up these and many other titles at my website http://w.wasbetterthanobama.gov

    I think that might get the correct message across a lot better than some old teabag.

  • I’ll know the world is safe when Beck uses his technical production knowledge to nationally preempt one of Obama’s state-of-the-union addresses with a John Galt speech :-)

  • “You can have my axe!”

    Channeling Gimli?

    Cheers.

  • Interesting comments (even the unhinged, not-on-my-meds-today ones).  I agree with MichaelW:

    As for the tea party name, I think the idea is that the people are directly standing up to the government on an issue of taxation that suggests the name.  It’s not entirely accurate from an historical standpoint, of course, but close enough to build a movement around.

    “Tea party” has a pretty hefty symbollic meaning in our country; people know you’re mad at the government over taxes when you talk about a tea party.  John Galt, not so much.  I agree, Bryan, that “going Galt” is foolish: we have bills to pay, families to feed, jobs to do, and going Galt would hurt ourselves and those dear to us much faster than it would inconvenience Uncle Sugar.  However, doing what we legally can to “go Galt”, such as reducing withholdings to legal minimums, cutting back on income, hiding income, etc, seems a good idea for civil disobedience, and a helluva lot more effective than the usual liberal crap of blocking traffic, smoking dope and singing Kum By Yah.

  • You  learn to crawl before you learn to walk.  The freedom-loving side hasn’t had a lot of experience at this protest thing.  Too busy working and taking time to be with their families.  The tea parties are the baby steps.  I won’t criticize, actually I applaud, anyone who takes even baby steps at this point.  You have to start somewhere.  No action is too small or insignificant.  So, get off your high horses and encourage these first steps rather than ridicule them.

    • I won’t criticize, actually I applaud, anyone who takes even baby steps at this point.  You have to start somewhere.  No action is too small or insignificant.  So, get off your high horses and encourage these first steps rather than ridicule them.

      I was thinking along the lines of “encouraging them to be better.”  I was not so much criticizing people’s actions because they are small but because they compared their safe, moderate actions to radical actions.  I wouldn’t go so far as to use the word “travesty“…

      That said, I’m still considering unaha-closp and Michael Wade’s comments, which sound sensible to me.

      • I understand.  That comment wasn’t directed at any one in particular.  It is directed, in frustration, to all the comments and other blogs that belittle these tea parties and “going Galt” posts as insignificant and pointless.  I have no questions of the intensity of the Q&O writers and most of those who comment here.  And you guys do keep people on their toes!

        I agree we need to get to the next levels of protest and actually “risk” something.  But I think right now we are in the “education” phase where these tea parties show other less-government types that they are not alone.  This way when a “Shays Rebellion” leader comes along he won’t be left high and dry.

  • Money is the only language government speaks. It is a beast however; when it gets hungry it will get angry if its food is withheld. We must accept that we will suffer if we stop feeding the beast. We will suffer anyway whether we do so or not. If we were to just start with not paying our personal property taxes it would bring government to its knees. There is no level of government that is not bankrupt. If local government is choked out the others will falter. If local government is beaten people will be emboldened to take on the rest.

    Stop Feeding the Beast!

  • Well, I was the one at the DC Tea Party waving the Navy “Dont Tread On Me” Jack as shown on Reason TV.  A SWAT supervisor and Federal cops were there watching us; as the SWAT officer told me it was SOP.  And yes, we only has 300 people and no congressional visitors and it was during the lunch hour. 

    Now under our system of governance we use the rule of law to protest; using letters, e-mails, peaceful demonstrations to express our discontent and even being silly as the Indian garbed Bostonians were in 1773 by sending tea bags to our congressional members as a sign of protest.  Yes, I expect that congressmen and women fear little to no consequences will result and are content to just wait us out and continue spending.  They live in their own cocoon and would never suspect that the American people in mass would really get off of their couches and do something.  How few have picketed congressional offices or have punched a congressman in the nose, as was sometimes done in our early history outside and inside of congress, and gone to jail with a smile on their face.  Once upon a time, a challenge to a duel was a consequence, as Andrew Jackson fought 13.  Or tarring and feathering; I notice Senator Dodd has escaped unscathed and still heads the banking committee after all his corrupt actions.     

    If one remembers, the bombings used as a form of protest by the SDS Weathermen, did little to change our country in the way they wanted.  However the organized violent confrontations by the unions in the early portion of the 20th century certainly did.  So, I would say unless we have a Shays’ Rebellion II as in 1786, which helped launch the change from the Articles of Confederation to our present Constitution, little will change. 

    Even though founder Jefferson said that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants, who will be the first patriot to shed his or her blood for us.  Shays was a known Revolutionary War hero and he was “drafted” to lead after the corrupt Massachusetts government took away the land of the common farmers; so many were directly impacted then unlike the minimum impact on our daily lives were see today from OUR corrupt government.  They had, to a degree, nothing to lose, but most of us do; our founders certainly placed their lives and fortunes on the line.  They certainly could have lost everything they cherished.  It is said we are a violent society, but when it comes to protesting government corruption we are demonstrably less so than our European friends.

    So again where is that established patriot, like Shays, who is willing to risk the charge of treason, their life, their family and fortune for real change we can believe in.  I and millions of others are waiting for that person.

  • We are at the beginning of a taxpayers protest.  If it builds momentum, it could have some consequences.

    Heck, when I see that Evan Bayh putting out an op-ed about fiscal responsibility, then we have a chance to influence the Senate voting on further debt.

    This week, the United States Senate will vote on a spending package to fund the federal government for the remainder of this fiscal year. The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 is a sprawling, $410 billion compilation of nine spending measures that lacks the slightest hint of austerity from the federal government or the recipients of its largess.
    The Senate should reject this bill. If we do not, President Barack Obama should veto it.

  • Let be fair……conservatives are the ones who usually DON’T protest.  There’s a learning curve

  • No offense, Bryan, but who made you the Analogy Police?

    When our Congressional delegations fail to represent our interests and spend money our kids don’t have, that is de facto taxation without representation.  I can vote the bums out, but my kids and their future kids can’t vote yet.  Who represents them?  Obviously not Congress.   Hence the “tea party” analogy.  All analogies break down at some point, so where do you get off criticizing people for not making strong enough analogies?  They call it a “tea party” because (a) it captures the spirit of the idea, and (b) “fecklessly standing about with signs till election time” just isn’t catchy enough.

    I’m perfectly well aware that there will be no Congressmen present at the protest today in Salt Lake City that I’ll be attending and that any given Congressman has a better chance of squashing a bug under their shoe today than reading my signs, even when I email them pictures as I plan to do when I get home.  But that’s not the point.  The point is that when you add up this protest, and 50 other protests that have already happened, and a bunch more that are scheduled, pretty soon you’re talking real votes.  If we don’t do something to send them a message now, by the time we can vote the bums out they’ll have done some seriously irreparable damage.  My great-grandparents chose America to come to so that my kids could grow up in it.  I just want to make sure there’s still an America for them to grow up in.

    Also, please don’t tell me I’m not doing enough actual work for my cause.  I’m a founding member of the new charter school in our town.  I spend some time every day lobbying Congress to do something about CPSIA before it kills small mommy businesses like mine.  I’m also kinda busy raising the next generation of capitalists.  To do all this I wake up at 6 am and go to bed around midnight.  This is not just “dress-up” for me.  So kindly step off.

    • No offense, Bryan, but who made you the Analogy Police? [...] All analogies break down at some point, so where do you get off criticizing people for not making strong enough analogies?

      Where do I get off?  I already explained my reasoning.  They’re comparing moderate, safe, legal acts to revolutionary acts, and I thought the comparison was weak.  I’m not enforcing anything, and I’m not pretending to have any authority on the matter extending beyond the strength of my argument.

      And I didn’t say you weren’t “doing enough actual work for your cause,” and there’s no reason to suspect that I was about to do so.  There’s no reason for you to snap at me over that.  More power to you.

      Can we have a civil discussion about this?  As you can see from my earlier comments, I consider other opinions and may very well change my mind.  Now, on to your argument:

      When our Congressional delegations fail to represent our interests and spend money our kids don’t have, that is de facto taxation without representation.  I can vote the bums out, but my kids and their future kids can’t vote yet.  Who represents them?  Obviously not Congress.   Hence the “tea party” analogy. [...] They call it a “tea party” because (a) it captures the spirit of the idea, and (b) “fecklessly standing about with signs till election time” just isn’t catchy enough.

      I didn’t catch the part of Santelli’s rant that dealt with children, but that’s an interesting justification.  I would say, though, that representation has always belonged to current adults, and adults are responsible for decisions affecting their children.  Those adults are being represented right now, mostly by people who won recent elections.  The problem isn’t a lack of representation.

      And again, I wasn’t criticizing the act of protesting.  I said right from the start that I don’t mind that.  By all means, send that message.  But for those who draw comparisons with radicals, I said I’m not impressed with actions that don’t even show up on the government’s balance sheet.

  • Yeah, I think someone peed in Pogue’s beer in the last 24 hours.  He’s gotten a might reactionary.  Could be the doom and gloom is beginning to weigh on him (welcome new club members!).

  • This is so dumb “I’d be convinced of their sincerity if they subsequently considered actually not paying their taxes next year if the government didn’t change its policies.  That would be civil disobedience, as opposed to loud-but-obedient.  But still, hold the tea.”

    I am not paying any taxes, nor am I taking a “Job” where someone is going to keep the “withholding” out of my paycheck. Obama is over-reaching and Americans are not going to stand for it. The death-spiral of the American economy is just beginning, and if Obama isn’t impeached by 2011, I will be amazed.

    • Okay, you think what I wrote was dumb… and then, as evidence, you say you’re already doing what I said would convince me of one’s sincerity.  What am I missing here?

  • OK, how about if one were to say, I’m going all Sam Lowry on them…

  • http://wcbstv.com/breakingnewsalerts/recession.budget.protest.2.951551.html

    Here’s the flip side to the “tea parties”

    It’s the “make the rich pay party”

    This country cannot go on this way. 

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