While I was in Ireland, I missed all the news about the Tea Party protests that were being organized for Income Tax Day on April 15. But I got home in time to see the news coverage . . . what there was of it. I was pleased to see ordinary citizens who are concerned about the direction of U.S. financial policy take to the streets. Since I teach and write about small business issues, I’m just as upset about what I consider to be reckless financial policy as the protesters. So I was delighted when I received the image above from my dear friend Helen Yancy. She took this picture of her husband, Foster, during a protest near her home in Plymouth, Michigan. Foster’s “Extremist” sign was prompted by a remark made by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm who publicly referred to the upcoming protest as being organized by political “extremists.” Here’s the letter that Helen sent on to the Governor:
I am appalled that you disregarded the efforts of ordinary people like me and my husband and referred to the tea parties as "organized by the right extreme". This truly was a grass roots effort. I learned about it by accident, from a friend - and I am no activist, have never been to a demonstration before in my life, nor has my husband - but we decided to go, and stand up for what we believe in. We are not right wing extremists - we are patriotic Americans. Your off-hand statement diminishes us, and every American who has the right to differ with you. These were peaceful and patriotic rallies, the kind our forefathers attended. American history abounds with grassroots demonstrations when the people decided to stand up and be counted because we are troubled. I am very disappointed that you would make such a demeaning statement. Today, hundreds of citizens agreed with our stand, all around the state - people like us - ordinary people
I share the concerns that Foster and Helen expressed because I believe that so much of our government’s reaction to the current financial crisis will make it harder for small business to recover and prosper for lots of reasons that you could hardly call the fears of an extremist. For the record here are my concerns:
- Without any debate among our elected leaders, our government has assumed authority to provide tax-payer subsidies that effectively decide which business will succeed and which will fail, rather than letting the free market dictate success or failure.
- Congress has passed a stimulus bill without debate and without reading it, and apparently without much stimulus.
- Without any debate, our government used tax payer’s money to bail out and take over banks and mortgage lenders and insurers, thus rewarding failure and not punishing wrong-doing in the process.
- Congress has voted to confirm administration officials who can’t understand the tax code well enough to pay their tax indebtedness, and has given them a pass on what would be punishment for everyday taxpayers.
- Congress has completely ducked the issue that the mortgage crises was largely brought on by the government’s insistence that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae issue sub-prime mortgages to people who clearly could not afford to pay for them.
- The Obama administration campaigned on a pork-free budget promise, then rolled out a national barbecue that doubled the dreadful Bush debt.
- The Fed chairman Bernanke responded by printing a trillion dollars to capitalize the economy . . . doing so with no debate and with full understanding that this action could trigger hyper inflation.
- The Government put a tax-the-rich target on the back of anyone earning $200,000 or more, one of the most hurtful of all possible strategies for small business.
So who are the extremists here: A government that has spent more money in a few short months than all administrations put together since George Washington, or every-day Americans: working people who love their country and who are alarmed about a government that is trampling on citizens’ economic liberties by creating taxpayer funded programs designed not to make the poor richer, but rather to render the rich poorer?
I don’t believe we’ve seen the last of the tea parities: What do you think . . . Tea anyone?