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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Tea Party - Discussion in Boston's Fanueil Hall


Boston's famous Tea Party is among the historic paintings displayed in the newly renovated museum in Fanueil Hall. I accidentally happened to be with a duo of ladies who observed how one painter's depiction of the 1773 Tea Party represented the real event, not the political group of right wing extremists who plagiarize the title given to the original patriots. "This is the real Tea Party," said the younger lady to her older companion, while viewing the painting. "It's not the one you belong to," she said.

My husband and I were enjoying Boston's historic exhibits during the July 4th holiday, taking in a series of commemorations to remember the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, when our nation's National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, was written in Baltimore Harbor.

But, in Boston, the history museums were dressed for July 4th, regardless of what other anniversary coincided with city's claim as the seat of liberty.

While overhearing this short discourse, I missed a political opportunity to educate the two women about the difference between the patriots in the historic painting and how today's right wing extremist plagiarizers misrepresent history.

Tea Party participants in 1773 were protesting taxation without representation. In other words, Great Britain was taxing tea, a commodity valued by the American colonists, without allowing for colonial representation in the Parliament. This is not the case in America today. All American taxation policies, either state or federal, are debated and voted on by elected legislative bodies, representing the people paying the taxes.

Activists who call themselves Tea Party people today appear to have no understanding about how Capitalism or free markets are supposed to work. Capitalism and taxation are two different concepts. In Capitalism, the wealth obtained through free market economics are shared among the population - usually, through fair taxation policies, but also through philanthropy. In other words, Capitalism is supposed to spread wealth to help all people.

Taxation is a government responsibility whereby funds needed to support governance or national security are obtained by enforcing a system to share the wealth. Capitalism should be a voluntary sharing of wealth, while taxation, on the other hand, as attributed to patriot Benjamin Franklin's quote, is as inevitable as death.

But these are some of the services taxes support:

1. National security- air transportation safety and border security.

2. Federal emergency management for people suffering from natural disasters.

3. Public safety paid for by hiring firefighters, police and rescue workers.

4. Public health to protect people from pandemic infectious diseases or to educate consumers about the dangers of cigarette smoking and other preventable disease causing behaviors.

5. National defense paying a strong military for the US Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Army and Air Force.

6. Interstate highway system visioned by Republican President Dwight Eisenhower.

7. Civil liberties supported by the US Supreme Court to protect second amendment gun rights, freedom of speech and voting rights.

8. Salaries and benefits of national and state political leaders when they're making names for themselves, like former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Louisiana Governor Bobbie Jindel, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, Virginia Representative Eric Cantor and Minnesota's former governor Tim Pawlenty, and others.

9. Protecting historic and cultural treasurers like the American Constitution, or museums like the hall of patriotic paintings in Boston's Fanueil Hall.

10. Preserving America's enormously popular and scenic National Parks.

11. Caring for the poor and those who need a helping hand with programs like food security, health care and unemployment.

This summary list of programs whereby the nation pays its bills and shares our wealth to help all our citizens are the result of a Capitalist economy where taxation is voted on by people elected to represent the tax payers.

Today, American tax policy is debated by elected representation. 

Of course, how taxes are collected and spent are certainly topics worthy of ongoing debate. Nevertheless, the premise by today's plagiarizer Tea Party conservatives should not be be allowed to misrepresent or revise the intention of the band of 1773 patriots who stormed three ships in Boston Harbor to dump tea.

Tea Party activists should be compassionate Americans who support the sharing of wealth and not plagiarizing our founders' patriotic actions.



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