What the Tea Party has Right (and Wrong)

The Tea Party (and its not a party, its a movement) has been gathering steam. They are upset about how things are currently going. They have a lot right, but unfortunately, they have a lot wrong as well.

At its heart, the movement is a conservative movement, wanting low taxes, small government and personal responsibility. All of these are reasonable. The issue is that the movement is over simplistic.

First, lets look at what the Tea Party has right. The initial government action that gave the Tea Party legs was the TARP which funded the bailing out of banks and wall street firms. There is a lot wrong with TARP and it probably should have never gone forward. Even if not rescuing the banks would have resulted in another Great Depression, the United States would still have emerged stronger. As it stands, the people responsible for creating the mortgage meltdown have gotten off Scot-free. Worse, they are now fighting any regulatory efforts that would prevent this type of thing from happening again.

Obama's spending for stimulus is spending money we don't have. If we were in a great depression, maybe this would be merited. But the free market system needs to be given a chance to work before going to the drastic measure of printing large sums of money.

So the beginnings of the Tea Party are spot on. But this is as far as it goes. The tea party simplistic mantra of small government and low taxes are not even consistent within the party itself. Ask a Tea Party member if he would like to see the military budget cut by half. I'm thinking the answer to this would be a resounding NO WAY! Yet the military is a huge government agency that costs us dearly in tax dollars each year (over 800 billion next year alone). Small government? Sure but only if its small where they would like it to be small.

And it doesn't stop there. How about eliminating Medicare or Social Security? Perhaps cut veterans benefits? Public Education? What about the mentally disabled? Should we cut help for them?

So although the Tea Party ideas seem nice and they are simple to comprehend, if applied across the board these same ideas could lead to disaster in some areas.

Its interesting where liberal and conservative ideas do overlap. Both sides want fiscal responsibility. Both want personal responsibility. Both want low taxes. Where they diverge is the underlying question of how to solve certain societal issues, but both sides are actually closer then they think. Both conservatives and liberals like working sewers, roads, schools, libraries, and emergency services. Both sides want decent health care and want older people and the truly disabled helped. But the two sides diverge on the issue of trust.

Take the current health care bill in the House. It has been examined by the accountants at the OMB and they say that it will reduce deficits and reduce government spending. Yet the Tea Party is against. They see it as an expansion of government and they don't trust government and they don't trust the OMB.

Liberals think you can create an efficient government worthy of the public trust. They see examples in other countries that have very high standards of livings with well run governments. What liberals don't trust is corporations.

Conservatives tend to be the opposite in this regard, trusting private companies and corporations more than government.

But there is a difference between the two entities. Private business and Corporations are driven by profit which can lead to more efficient operations when profit and the goal of providing a service align. But when those two goals don't align, issues can arise. As an example, drug companies stand to make more money by producing a drug that treats a symptom of a problem then a cure for the problem. By treating a symptom, the patient needs to take the drug for a much longer time (maybe their entire lifetime).

There are many other examples, which is why we need government. But we need efficient, transparent government.

The Tea Party is fine for what it is, but I think it will need to become sophisticated if it truly wants to create a better life for our children. And both sides, conservative and liberal need to realize that they aren't so different.



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