Why I am a Tea Party member


Every once in a while, someone asks me why I helped start the Tea Party in Bozeman, Montana.  To make the story short, I say something like this: It was spring 2009, and I’d become increasingly disenchanted with both political parties’ support of rampant government overspending; I worried about its impact on our nation and on future generations. I’m the son of Holocaust survivors, I say finally, and that compels me to fight for what I believe in.

Once begun, I found that our Tea Party events large drew crowds and also lots of controversy. On Independence Day 2009, for example, we drew over 2,000 people to Bozeman’s Main Street, filling over eight city blocks with Americans voicing both their love of liberty and their concerns about the federal government’s over-taxing and over-reach.

Later that summer, we protested the government takeover of healthcare outside President Obama’s Town Hall event at the nearby airport. Despite being goaded to violence by out-of-town union organizers who took over our permitted area, we exercised self-restraint. Our rally was fiery but peaceful.

During the last couple of years, much has been written about the so-called  “death of the Tea Party”, as the news media and Liberal Left have attempted to demonize the movement. None of these tactics worked. Nonpartisan polls, including a recent ABC/Washington Post survey, show that more than one-third of Americans support the Tea Party.

According to pollsters Scott Rasmussen and Douglas Schoen, authors of Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking the Two-Party System, membership of the Tea Party mirrors the demographics of America with only slight differences.  We are somewhat better educated, slightly more affluent and have slightly less minority involvement. I know of lawyers, doctors, engineers as well as construction workers, housewives and painters who are Tea Party members. But demonizing the Tea Party, no matter how often it’s done, won’t make our nation’s problems go away nor solve them. Nor will it make us go away. While we no longer hold huge rallies, Tea Party members stay involved. They run for office, work for grassroots organizations and canvass door-to-door trying to awaken folks to get involved in the political process.

Most Americans agree that we cannot sustain current levels of debt and spending.  According to the U.S. Debt Clock, our national debt exceeds $17 trillion.  Unfunded liabilities (Medicare, Social Security and pensions) exceed $122 trillion.  These are mind-boggling numbers, but let’s personalize it: Including unfunded debt, every American taxpayer bears $1.25 million in debt, and what if the federal government goes broke? Millions of Americans would suffer as many government programs came to a screeching halt.

Today, I work for Americans For Prosperity-Montana chapter. We promote economic freedom as the pathway to a better life. As defined by economists Robert Lawson of Auburn University and James Gwartney of Florida State University, economic freedom is determined by the size of government, the amount of regulation (and the seen and unseen costs for compliance), sound money, free trade, and the rule of law.   Where there is economic freedom, people live happier, healthier, better quality lives.  Education is better, especially for young women. The environment is cleaner.  (If you doubt that, get this. Just last year, PBS’ Nova referred to North Korea as nearing “environmental collapse.” North Korea ranks dead last in economic freedom and its environment suffers in consequence.)

The United States in 2000 ranked third in the world in economic freedom, but 12 years later, we’d dropped to eighteenth, coming in behind Estonia, Qatar, Switzerland and Chile.  Why? Massive government over-spending, our growing debt and increased international competition.

Our economic freedom is determined in part by regulations, and the tighter the regulations, the greater the threat to our economic freedom, and ironically, the environment, because a robust economy pays for clean technology.  One current threat comes from the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Waters of the U.S.” proposed rule. While the EPA contends the new rule expands exemptions to farmers and ranchers, many believe the rule would make it more difficult to farm and ranch and would hurt local family and organic farmers who make valuable contributions to our communities.

The Tea Party’s influence continues to be widely felt, and rightly so. So rather than attacking each other, let’s look at issues case-by-case and search for common ground. Let’s disagree in a civil manner and let the free market of ideas decide what’s best for this great experiment in liberty called America.

Henry Kriegel is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a column service of High Country News. He is deputy director of Americans For Prosperity-Montana and a co-founder of the Bozeman Tea Party (hkriegel@afphq.org.)

Russ Rodderback
Russ Rodderback says:
Jul 29, 2014 02:18 PM
I'll believe Teabaggers who decry "massive government overspending" if, next Veterans Day, instead of getting all weepy, saluting & waving the flag, you organize to DEMAND the U.S. STOP handing trillions over to the Pentagon & MIC. It's the Great American War Machine that has bankrupted this country, not grandma's Social Security check.
Patrick Kelly
Patrick Kelly says:
Jul 29, 2014 02:34 PM
I respect your right to an opinion...but I read HCN to avoid this kind of blatant political propaganda, this is disappointing.
Randall Spydell
Randall Spydell says:
Jul 29, 2014 03:39 PM
Shutting down the government, as happened last fall, is an irresponsible method of calling attention to the US Government's overspending. Many overseas visitors, bringing overseas money to spend in the USA while visiting National Parks and other federally managed attractions, were prevented (or deflected) from spending their money and that hurt many small businesses in the western US. I cannot support a party that acts this way. I agree with Rodderback, reduce the Defense budget (IMHO by 10-50% over 5-10 years) and we'll have a reasonably-sized government. Social Security and Medicare are not at fault. And don't cut those federal programs that support foreign visitors spending their money here to support our small businesses.
Ricky LaBlanc
Ricky LaBlanc says:
Jul 29, 2014 03:43 PM
I agree this shouldn't be a place for your politics , nothing like turning off a few more readers.
Jacques White
Jacques White says:
Jul 29, 2014 03:49 PM
Henry, thanks for your thoughts. I have always felt that the Tea Party Platform is about one third correct. Deficit spending is not good if continuing unabated. But, there are other elements of the Tea Party platform that are detached from current reality to the point of being harmful to our society, our country and our people. 1) Health care. Many of the larger countries that currently rank above the US in "Economic Freedom" have either nationalized Medicare programs (Australia and Canada) or programs very similar the US Affordable Care Act (Switzerland). So these programs are not anti-freedom. Making sure our citizens health needs are cared for is one of the foundations for economic and national security, and personal freedom to choose employment options. 2) Debt. The huge US debt is the result of two long running foreign wars, one in retaliation for external aggression (Afghanistan) and the other (Iraq), well I don't know what that was about (let me know when you find out), and the bailout of the economy from "free and unfettered" housing and finance markets run to the logical and catastrophic extreme combined with systematic lowering of federal and local tax rates coinciding with the largest transfer of wealth from the middle and lower classes to the top one percent in the recent history of the country. If the last two administrations did not decide to spend their way out of this crisis, the US may have ranked high in freedom (as in free-for-all), but I assure we would have taken the whole world back several hundred years with us. 3) Competition. Are we really in competition with Hong Kong, Switzerland, Canada or Australia? No. We are in competition with China and Europe as a whole with Brazil and India on the rise, nearly all with very centralized economic and government controls, and in the case of Europe, essentially nationalized medical systems. The world is a complicated place, and the countries that are competing the best with us as "producers" of goods and services either have very strong educational programs and rely on technological supremacy and efficiency, or are using brute force of huge labor markets, rapid imitation (I.E. weak copyright laws) and zero environmental controls. Let's imitate that? 4) The environment. While environmental protection has upfront costs, it is an insurance policy that we take out for future generations. We may have a financial debt, but it pales in comparison to the environmental debt that China is accruing. And then there is climate change, which will cost us and future generations significant freedoms as we try to deal with the impacts of losing half or more of the Florida Panhandle to the ocean, among other challenges. 5) the Economy. The economic engine of this country are the cities and "city states", like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Washington, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, etc. This is where the wealth is concentrated and generated in this country, and these urban centers are complicated places that require structure, organization, and dare I say it, rules, in order to function and generate the wealth and resources that subsidize much of the infrastructure in rural parts of their own states and the rest of the country as a whole. Looked at another way, 6 of the top ten most expensive cities to live in are in Switzerland, Australia, or Hong Kong and Singapore. Why? because this is where all the bankers live. Is that your model of "freedom", or life, liberty and justice for all? Banksterville?

At the further risk of heresy here, I would say that some of the Tea Party notions of "freedom" taken to their extreme are most effective in socially less complicated settings and systems or networks of society and commerce, where local organization can replace or substitute for centralized government institutions and structures, and complex interlocking financial instruments and arrangements. You can barter for tomatoes, more difficult to do so for 50 million iPhones. And how do you manage 8M people living in close proximity without certain controls in place? Replace public law enforcement with private gun ownership? This might work when your nearest neighbor is 10 miles away and the biggest threat to your personal safety is something that is not armed. I am just not sure the Tea Party has the full recipe for success in the 21st Century which looks more and more urban and interconnected.

Generally not spending more as a society than we can reasonably generate and demonstrate is useful to our wellbeing and that of our children is a good place to start the discussion around improving our governance models. Perhaps it is a good place to stop as well.
W John Faust
W John Faust says:
Jul 29, 2014 03:53 PM
I certainly agree with Russ Roderick's comments. However, there is one more step: tax the wealthy at much higher rates. Their subsidies far exceed their contributions.
Kathleen S. Anderson
Kathleen S. Anderson says:
Jul 29, 2014 04:38 PM
I find the comments very interesting. I do believe that those who object to the safety nets we provide for our least wealthy citizens are needed and justified. I also think that those who disagree should give up Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security...as proof of their beliefs. Sooner or later they will be older and sicker and, unless they are wealthy, life will be very difficult without the Social Security they have paid into.

Steve Snyder
Steve Snyder says:
Jul 29, 2014 05:05 PM
OK, I'm going to try commenting again. First, I agree with Russ, Patrick and others. Second, government theft of health care? Please. It was government handing over health care to big insurers, enabled by one of your own senators, Mr. Krieger. As for financial problems, did you protest unnecessary wars, waged in part for oil control reasons?

As for "economic freedom," to me that includes the right to unionize, the right to overtime pay without being reclassified as an "independent contractor," the right to workplace safety and more.
Jerry Nolan
Jerry Nolan says:
Jul 29, 2014 05:13 PM
One would think that with a national debt of $17 trillion our economy would be in total collapse. It's not in total collapse because national debt is different than any other debt. The federal debt is different than family, business, or local government debt. The difference comes from the national government's responsibility to maintain a steady amount of money in circulation to prevent deflation or inflation. Inflation is too much money in circulation. Deflation is too little money in circulation. The fed is the only organization with this responsibility and that makes its debt different than any other debt. For the past 75 years the government has had to print money to prevent deflation. When the government pumps money into the economy it is reflected as national debt. This begs the question of where is all the money disappearing to if the government keeps printing money and we are not seeing inflation. The answer is that first, as the population increases more money is needed to maintain a steady value. Second, the money is disappearing into the bank accounts of the super rich and cash flush corporations. This is reflected in a rising stock market. Cash flush corporations can't increase production, because consumers don't have money to spend. Get the money into the hands of the people who need it and corporations will increase production. This will increase money in circulation and the government will reduce its deficit spending in order to prevent inflation.
Jacques White
Jacques White says:
Jul 29, 2014 05:19 PM
Harnessing the energy of the Tea Party to force local and national discussions of what we see as our future in the face of real challenges and real forces shaping our lives is exciting. But let's all agree to base those discussion in facts. In that spirit, I correct myself!

The Florida Peninsula (I.E. most of the state) is at most immediate risk from climate change and sea level rise, not the Panhandle, which may fare a little better compared to the southern part of the state, for a while at least.
Amy Meighan
Amy Meighan says:
Jul 29, 2014 05:32 PM
Why do most of you insist on thinking the military is the large part of the budget...it's all the freebies and the mismanaged social system. We have managed to enable a large percent of our society into not working because they can make more on welfare. This nation has lost its Shame, it's work ethic. All you crybabies out there are amazing that you don't see what made us what we were. We've been the nation of new beginnings for the common man or woman! I didn't hear any of you complaining about the military when it's out there everyday watching out for you. It's a perception of strength that keeps you safe at night. Ever live in other countries? Probably not, you've had the good life handed to you your whole lives. We pay more in welfare than our soldiers get..wtf is that? If you think the bad guys out there went away, what the hell is that big hole in NYC? How soon you forget. The tea party is agreat avenue to the return of some common sense. What a bunch of whiners your are. I'm ashamed of you, grow up!
Russ Rodderback
Russ Rodderback says:
Jul 29, 2014 05:55 PM
Oh Amy admit it. You're really Michael Moore signing on here to give us a few laughs.
Kenneth Wilson
Kenneth Wilson says:
Jul 29, 2014 05:59 PM
One could write many pages in response to the misinformation and misconceptions in this piece. I’ll limit myself to these three points: (1) Among the developed OECD nations the U.S. ranks very low in the proportion of GDP paid in taxes. At 26% we are on the bottom, in the company of Turkey, Chile, and Mexico. The OECD average is 36% of economic activity going to taxes. Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK are nations that exceed the OECD average and they certainly have high standards of living and significant personal freedom. I like visiting Mexico and Turkey, but would rather live in Germany. (2) The U.S. government hasn’t taken over healthcare; rather it has set up competition among private insurance companies in the healthcare sector. I don’t think this is the best approach, and I notice that nations that take a stronger role in providing healthcare—such as Canada, Germany, and Japan—get better outcomes. (3) Americans for Prosperity, founded by billionaire David Koch, is the source of many of the ugly, distorted attack ads that pollute our television viewing. I would not lend great credence to someone who works for this group.
Adam Neff
Adam Neff says:
Jul 29, 2014 06:02 PM
Here's my take. Yes, I completely agree that deficit spending is out of control and needs to end. I'm fully on board with the Tea Party goal to rein in our spending.

Economic freedom as described above is best achieve in a growing economy. But growth isn't sustainable. Population growth, economic growth, any kind of "growth" isn't sustainable.

We need to become better at managing our country for a zero growth future. In order to maintain a fiscally health govt in future we should be focusing on increasing taxes through closing loop holes (and child/housing tax credits!) and decreased spending. Not everyone can be a millionaire, and that's ok, but no one should starve. I wish we would tend more towards mimicking Bhutan's movement away from Gross Nation Product toward Gross National Happiness.
Jacques White
Jacques White says:
Jul 29, 2014 06:17 PM
Amy, I can't speak for others. My point is the wars and federal bailout were expensive, approximately $4.4 Trillion and $12.8 Trillion respectively. So a lot of money. Mean tested social programs in 2011 cost about $2.3 Trillion. Also a lot, but not break the bank a lot given the cash lying around doing nothing in this country at the moment. My point was not that Military spending is bad per say, particularly in response to the "hole in NYC" as you put it (but it is hard to explain the invasion of Iraq in those terms), rather that kind of spending without tax adjustments contributed to the debt. Agreeing in part at least with Jerry above, you can't launch two wars and bail out your banks and pretend that doesn't incur significant extra costs. One choice going forward is a taxation strategy that supports improvements in infrastructure (or and including bombs, planes and black armored SUV's if you prefer), education, and programs that facilitate moving some of that stagnant cash around to benefit and stimulate the spending power of the middle class while providing a safety trampoline for the poor so they have an opportunity to float or bounce with the improving economy instead of us all continuing to pay for more jails. The Tea Party is part way right - we have problems with our tax system. But the problem has more to do with who is taxed or not taxed and how those resources are or are not working for a better future for all of us, not that "our" taxes are too high as a whole. Its all about leveraging the power inherent in the country's middle class.
Martin Pokorny
Martin Pokorny says:
Jul 29, 2014 07:34 PM
I agree with Patrick Kelley and others. Disappointing HCN. Aren't there enough Fox News and Rush Limbaugh outlets for this kind of political blather?
Kirk Hohenberger
Kirk Hohenberger says:
Jul 29, 2014 08:30 PM
Isn't the whole economic system some kind of Ponzi scheme of sorts? Printing money, paper, that has no value, unless we believe it does. Does the whole system print money every day in the form of inflation? Where does the money come from when say you flip a house and make a hundred thousand dollar profit, how is that different then the goverment printing it? Who decides how much money to print so when the population increases there is more money for them? If we all wanted to see our money at once, it doesn't exist , That's called a run on the banks and the whole system collapses! How is what we are doing not all a Fantasy anyway?
Jerry Nolan
Jerry Nolan says:
Jul 29, 2014 09:21 PM
Kirk, you've got it right, money has no value unless we believe in it. If the government can prevent inflation or deflation we believe in it. If we no longer believe in it the economy crashes which is essentially what would happen if we balanced the national budget without regard to the amount of money in circulation. The U.S. government has been so good at maintaining the value of the dollar that other countries use the U.S. dollar as a standard. Yes, money is a fantasy that depends of people believing in its value. Destroy that belief, destroy the economy. Regarding your question about where money comes from when you flip a house, it comes from the buyer who borrows money from the bank for a mortgage. Loans are a primary way that money is added to the economy. The government controls interest rates which in turn controls how hard or easy it is to get a loan.
Kirk Hohenberger
Kirk Hohenberger says:
Jul 29, 2014 10:08 PM
Thanks Jerry but isn't that extra Hundred thousand dollars you just made in a month Miraculously flipping the house you get from the buyer in the form of his loan isn't that just printed like the government does ?happens every day,why don't we worry about that?we have been printing money all along , but everything seams to be ok no Inflation? We have all these supposed experts that somehow tell us this economic Ponzi scheme is set in cement and has all these rules and laws but I don't know if anybody really knows what's going on?
Kirk Hohenberger
Kirk Hohenberger says:
Jul 29, 2014 10:20 PM
It seems the only two boom periods in the last twenty years were caused by Bubbles the.com bubble and the housing bubble! Is that shut a good system? Why don't we then create another bubble to get things going again, is that what we have to look forward to again, then the crash.have we learned anything ,or is this the system we are stuck with?
Jerry Nolan
Jerry Nolan says:
Jul 29, 2014 10:48 PM
Kirk, those loans create money just the same as deficit spending. As I said at the end of my first comment: “the money is disappearing into the bank accounts of the super rich and cash flush corporations. This is reflected in a rising stock market.” If you want to know how much money the rich individuals and corporations have removed from circulation and are just sitting on, all you have to do is look at the national debt. If you would like to get the economy booming again, you have to get the money into the hands of those who need it and will spend it. Tax the rich and start spending on building our nation's infrastructure, education, and R&D for solutions to global warming.
Kirk Hohenberger
Kirk Hohenberger says:
Jul 30, 2014 06:36 AM
I will vote for that
Jacques White
Jacques White says:
Jul 30, 2014 09:58 AM
If the Tea Party and working people in this country in general want something to be made about, it should be this: http://fortune.com/[…]/
Steve Snyder
Steve Snyder says:
Jul 30, 2014 09:59 AM
To the apparent "fiat money" folks now weighing in? Several contravening factors.

Paper money was invented in China a millennium ago. Related? Official US government paper money was first used here in the Civil War. Last I checked, the US survived just fine.

As far as paper being "valueless," so is gold, relatively speaking. If you wont "specie," silver would be better yet. Or, given today's electronics world, copper would be even better. Or, given the computer world, how about silicon?

Or given something that may run down relatively quickly, and is an almost priceless commodity, there's oil. Or, given the US military machine and "The Bomb," there's uranium.

All make more sense as a "specie" basis than does gold.
Harry Hempy
Harry Hempy says:
Jul 30, 2014 12:00 PM

Good discussion. I'll just comment on one sentence from Jerry Nolan:

   "The government controls interest rates which in turn controls how hard or easy it is to get a loan."

Bankers (the biggest bankers) control interest rates; not the government.

-Harry Hempy, Candidate for Governor of Colorado
Jerry Nolan
Jerry Nolan says:
Jul 30, 2014 01:35 PM
Harry - By simply saying the Fed controls interest rates, I was hoping not to have to go into the function of the Federal Reserve System. But since you opened this can a worms I will quote directly from the Fed's web page: “Although the Federal Reserve has no direct role in setting the prime rate, many banks choose to set their prime rates based partly on the target level of the federal funds rate--the rate that banks charge each other for short-term loans--established by the Federal Open Market Committee.” Here is the stated function of the Fed: http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/about_12594.htm
Steve Snyder
Steve Snyder says:
Jul 30, 2014 04:13 PM
Harry, as a previous Green Party voter, I say ... "Good luck!"
Martin Hagen
Martin Hagen says:
Aug 01, 2014 12:47 PM
Mr. Kriegel. I appreciate your approach and your contributions to the Tea Party. However, every single person I know or have talked to who is in line with or a member of the Tea Party, without exception, has one goal in mind. The over throw of our government, by force if necessary and they are arming themselves. "You can never have enough guns", "Anarchy is the only way" is what I hear. So, your vision of the Tea Party is a much rosier one that what I have encountered. I believe this element is drawn to the party to see this "revolution" through to fruition, and there are more of them than you may think in that 1/3 of the population. How do you propose to educate and control this dangerous group?
Dale Lockwood
Dale Lockwood says:
Aug 01, 2014 08:37 PM
One thing with the TEA party,if it gets in power you can say goodbye to a clean environment and public land.It will be a disaster.
Doug Smith
Doug Smith says:
Aug 02, 2014 07:58 AM
What a joke. The Tea Party is a bunch of backwoods uneducated rural red necks who can't stand the thought of a two term black president. The majority are so dumb that it boggles the mind. Where were they when this country pissed away over two trillion dollars on two insane wars? They were standing in front of their trailers and sitting on their motorcycles waving American flags and leading the senseless march to war. These people are idiots and an embarrassment to this country.
Amy Meighan
Amy Meighan says:
Aug 02, 2014 09:57 PM
Jacques, thank you for the reply. I'm not an economist by any stretch of the imagination but it seems that the more the government gets involved the less the economy grows. I think it tends to stifle the free market system we have had. I think the second Iraq invasion was a major mistake. There was no need. Sometimes it's the enemy you know thatd's a better way to go and I think taking out Kadafi in Libya was a major mistake as the really, really bad guys stepped in. As for IRS...did I mention I worked for them. it paid my tuition back then. we called them the Gestapo. Had to ask permission to use the bathroom. I worked for them again a few years ago and old Lois is lying through her teeth. For years ago a little bird told me how they had to start sorting anything that has the word "tea" in it and send it to a separate area. I am all for a flat tax but then a lot of good folks would lose their jobs. But it would hopefully make it equitable across the board. Just my take.
Mark Bailey
Mark Bailey says:
Aug 03, 2014 07:15 AM
I am with Doug Smith and Patrick Kelly. I read HCN for the love of our public land in the West. Public land is anathema to the TP.
Mark Bailey
Mark Bailey says:
Aug 03, 2014 07:30 AM
Kriegel, here is something that you as a libertarian and me as a conservationist can agree on. Government subsidies distort markets and have unintended, negative consequences. I could get behind you if you and your gang campaigned vigorously to end all agriculture subsidies for farmers and ranchers, right down to closing down Wildlife Services and raising public land grazing fees from $1.35 to market rates (about 10 times that amount). You in?
Amy Meighan
Amy Meighan says:
Aug 11, 2014 08:44 AM
Hey Doug...really, and what are your credentials?
Wayne L Hare
Wayne L Hare says:
Aug 25, 2014 10:32 AM
When I saw that a High Country News reader – thoughtful and intelligent folks that we are – had written a piece on why he is a Tea Party member, I thought I would finally gain some rhetoric-free, reasoned insight into a movement that I am at odds with. I was willing to listen with an open mind and even be swayed a bit. But almost immediately I read the tired rhetoric of “the government takeover of healthcare”, that a “third of Americans support the Tea Party”; and that the Tea Party mirrors the demographics of the country but with only “slightly less minority involvement”.

I live in conservative western Colorado. I’ve seen my share of Tea Party rallies and heard and read more rhetoric than I probably should have. Does anybody really think that the free market and not government regulation would get us clean air? Safe skies to fly through? Clean water? Safe food? Safe drugs? Better education? National Parks and wilderness areas? Does anybody actually think that dirty and dangerous factories, chemical plants, and coal plants would get CLEANER without government regulation? Are you not glad that the government stepped in and prohibited tobacco companies from targeting children with their advertisements? I like that the government saved the American automobile industry and created a profit for the American people, to boot. I like that the government created a Consumer Protection Bureau despite the fact that big industry spent a million dollars a DAY to defeat it. Do you suppose big industry and the free market had YOUR best interest in mind as they lobbied against it?

To use North Korea as an example of a poor economy generating a filthy environment is disingenuous and just plain silly. Where’s the connection? I’d suggest that the filthy environment is a direct result of a lack of government intervention and regulation. A result of a government that puts industry far above the welfare of its people. Kind of like the government that you want to create.

Do you not know that in the 50 years of the Glass-Steagall banking regulation there were very few and only very small bank failures. And then came industry-lobbied banking de-regulation. Yeah….that sure worked well! Yes…I like government. I like what it provides. I accept being my brother’s keeper, because there but for the grace of God go I….a phrase we seldom hear anymore. In a normal year, and if we catch a few breaks, my wife and I combined bring in about $78,000 and pay about $6,900 in taxes. $575.00 a month. Pretty cheap for two people considering all that we get in return and all that we were able to provide to those less fortunate. In fact, as Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.” Don’t Tea Partiers enjoy living in a civilized country? If not, try Somalia. They have almost no government. Perhaps Tea Partiers would enjoy it there.

I don’t like the national debt anymore than you do, but you know what? It really doesn’t keep me up at night. Even more I dislike the 12 TRILLION dollars that a few MBA’s on Wall Street made completely vanish from the economy in five short years. I dislike that greed and the values that it represents and that Americans seem to be chasing. I think that needs to be regulated and that our values need to be adjusted, don’t you? And if you want to go back to a time of a balanced budget and no national debt, you can “take the country back” to the decidedly non-Tea Party Clinton years.

And when Tea Partiers talk about “taking the country back”, what and when EXACTLY are you talking about? A time when government was smaller and taxes were cheaper? Pick a year. Are you nostalgic for the 80’s when top earners were taxed at 70%. Yearning for the 60’s when top earners were taxed at 91%? Maybe the good old post-war days of 1950? 91%! Because you’re not REALLY talking about taking the country back to 1931, a year that you can’t remember, and the last year that taxes in the top bracket were lower, at 25%, then they were in 2013 at 39.6% are you?

So with so much rhetoric that doesn’t stand up to ANY scrutiny, what’s going on here? Are Tea Partiers really talking about “taking the country back” to a time before we had a black president and to a time when all the people in power looked exactly like you? When you say that the Tea Party has only “slightly fewer minorities”, naaaa…I’m not buying it. Because although the right has done an admirable job of getting poor and middle income white folks to vote against their own best interest, they’ve been less successful in encouraging minorities to do the same. And besides, those signs I’ve seen at Tea Party gatherings depicting Obama as a monkey, or as an African witch doctor with a bone through his nose….I dunno, but they make me little suspicious of your party’s sincerity.

I’m sure that you are a nice person and even believe what you say. But you need to do your homework. You need to question why your “grass-roots” movement is bankrolled by the uber wealthy. I’d like to have seen more honesty and less rhetoric in your piece. That’s how you create believability. Maybe I’d have been swayed.