“An argument for a higher tariff & the nature of Tea Parties” by Jim Peters

Frequent contributor Jim Peter sent along the following in the aftermath of the debt ceiling crisis resolution:

I watched with a great deal of interest the situation as it regards raising the debt “ceiling” which was just avoided with a compromise that could hardly be dignified by that term. It was a surrender on the part of the Democratic Party to a handful of spiteful Republicans who believe they have some adherence or allegiance to the “Tea Party” in Boston in 1775. They have nothing to do with that Tea Party, except stealing the name. That was started to avoid a tax, true, but it was also designed to show that there would be “no taxation without representation” in London’s Parliament. It was a protest designed to show that the colonists were Englishmen, not colonists, and it drew attention because of its unique style.

Now we have on our hands an unruly group of protesters taking on a party, the Democrats in this case, whose primary desire is to make sure that the poorest of the poor have representation in this democracy. Like the millions of immigrants before, they, the Democrats, are fighting the sitting elite to make sure that the children are fed nutritional food, and believe me, it is an uphill struggle. Not only are they fighting the lunch programs at school, they are fighting the television at home that makes it so desirable to eat that which has no nutritional value and can make you heavier, which increases our risks for the medical profession. And, the medical profession is fighting the government for assuming a role in what it seems to perceive to be their pervue. The new health law, which has not even gone into practice yet, is opposed by the very insurance companies and for profit hospitals it is intended to help.

My problem with this “Tea Party” movement is that it narrowly defines itself according to the idea that the original movement was reflecting a desire to stop paying taxes. It was not a desire to stop paying taxes, it was a desire to be treated like contributing citizens. This movement is solely based on a desire to lower taxes, but God forbid that someone’s relative or they themselves be affected by this tax cutting. There seems to be a lot of finger pointing here, and the poor are usually carrying the brunt of it. What we forget is that we all came from poor immigrants, some legal, some not so legal. So we all, at one time, lacked the basics, including food, homes, and insurance. We lived off of the whims of the leaders of Tammany Hall. We even had to beg for items that some of us are now begging for once again, food, homes, and a simple job would be nice. Americans are starving, as Iowan farmers told John Kennedy in 1960. He asked,

“What is the matter with the American farmer today.”

From the back of the hall a loud voice yelled back, “He is stahving!”

Nothing much has changed but when it has changed, it has changed under a Democrat more often than a Republican. This recession, and I do not care what it is called by the President, it is a recession, finds our neighbors, friends, and families “stahving.” But it has been the Democrats who have tried to make the changes that affect the poor. Tammany Hall politicians did it so they could stuff the ballot box. I believe that Democrats do it because it promotes the public good.

A century and a half ago, there was a party that called itself the “Know Nothing Party.” They took great pleasure in the absence of most governmental knowledge except they stood for the idea that their taxes are too high. That was one thing they knew. I contend that the “Tea Party” change its name to more accurately acheive its agenda. I believe that if they want to be taken seriously, they rename themselves after the “Know Nothing” Party. Certainly their candidates thusfar have exhibited a strong pattern of knowing nothing. Hell, one of their presidential candidates did not even know where the American Revolution started.

I am concerned when a small group of radicals can hold a country’s economy hostage. That, in my opinion, is exactly what happened with this know nothing Tea Party that could not compromise, or allow the House Speaker to do his job. The word “compromise” is in the dictionary. It is how a government is run. When Paul Tsongas was Senator, Chrysler almost bit the bullet. Paul put together a group of Republican Senators and they compromised. They got Chrysler back on its feet.

Now to the tariff. During the early days of this republic, when a nation threatened us, we often took economic action. We raised the tariff on that country. What this involves is relatively simple, although I am not a lawyer, thank heavens. You do not accept their goods into this country without attaching a new tax, or tariff, to the goods. This makes it harder to sell the goods in the United States, which can be a good thing. By passing NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, we have lost that leverage with Canada and Mexico. But it is still a valid tax for the rest of the world. It does not have to be sparingly applied, either. Every four days, a huge ship the size of an aircraft carrier docks in California and it is full of goods from China. It unloads the goods and the goods are given a tax or tariff, and they are shipped. Often to a major retailer in the United States, but also to smaller retail chains. I went in one fairly large but not near the largest, store and looked to buy one thing that was not made in China. I could not find one thing other than New England Maple Syrup, so I bought it. I saved a lot of money that trip.

Often, the old solutions are the best. While the offended country would be upset with raising their tariff, the act would give us tax revenue, increase the price of their product, and possibly allow an American company to compete more fairly. In response, the other nation might raise their tariff that we pay. but I contend that the increase in American jobs, and possibly the return of American companies that are trading with say, China, might yield an entirely new ballgame. I believe that Thomas Jefferson would champion such a move as Secretary of State to George Washington. Alexander Hamilton might have a problem with it though.

4 Responses to “An argument for a higher tariff & the nature of Tea Parties” by Jim Peters

  1. kad barma says:

    I’m actually encouraged that a determined group of legislators could FINALLY stop Congress and the present administration from spending so far beyond our means. Our present government spending as a percent of GDP exceeds that of Greece, who has just defaulted. Only by the good graces of the foreign countries that hold almost half our debt are we allowed to go on printing money over at the Treasury. Pretending that borrowing more to support that spending is any sort of solution is the real crisis, and the Democrats have certainly shown no leadership on crafting a solution to that side of the equation.

    Raising taxes, whether via tariffs or rescinding Bush tax cuts to the wealthy, to cover government spending in significant excess over 20% of GDP is still going to bankrupt us. (The interest payments would soon become our entire federal budget). Don’t get me wrong–those Bush tax cuts to the wealthy NEED to be rescinded, because the middle class cannot shoulder the burden alone. But the point made by the small and determined group of legislators is that the 20% of GDP ceiling is not something that can be ignored anymore, and not even for one more budget cycle. And good on them for sticking to their guns.

    Fairness of the burden is the next issue at hand, and I’m surprised Democrats aren’t more encouraged by what just happened. Instead of a unified opposition to rescinding the Bush tax cuts, preserving Medicare and Social Security, and all the other important programs of our government, Democrats are facing a fractured and broken Republican party and a much easier road ahead. (The Speaker of the House couldn’t convene his majority!!!) They still must bear their portion of the responsibility for the outrageously unbalanced federal budget, but they will have a stronger hand in shaping the next version.

    UNDER 20% OF GDP!!!!

  2. Publius says:

    A couple of observations:

    1. We are accused of stealing the name of tea party. First, we are honoring our founding fathers by using that name. This country was founded on fighting onerous taxes just as much taxes being imposed by a distant and uncaring government. The original meaning of liberal was one of limited government. The left stole the word liberal and changed it to mean one leftist policies.

    2. The Tea Party is not against taxes and has never said that it was. I have yet to hear a case of Te Party member saying don’t cut me. Merely saying so without documentation is not good enough.

    3. The real concern of Washington is not to save money for the poor. Their real concern is to preserve their high paying jobs “fighting for the poor”.

    4. The word compromise is bandied about by the left as if it was a Holy Grail. What they actually mean is surrender. When Reagan and Bush I agreed to tax increases there were promises of reduced social spending. The increased taxes came but the social spending cuts never came. If Boehner had his way, he would have surrendered to faux cuts, but the Tea Party held his feet to the fire.

    5. Why is it that it is the Tea Party holding the economy “hostage”? In my view, it is the establishment government, by its reckless spending, is holding the economy hostage. Besides, Democrats after the Giffords shooting asked for a more civil debate. Yet during the last week I have heard such uncivil terms as : tyrant, terrorist, hostage from the Democrats. If these are their civil words, i guess their uncivil words would not make the family newspaper.

    John Braithwaite

  3. Jack Mitchell says:

    This is not untrue:
    3. The real concern of Washington is not to save money for the poor. Their real concern is to preserve their high paying jobs “fighting for the poor”.

    We have developed a variety of micro-economies around different gov’t services. Each endeavors to preserve itself.

  4. C R Krieger says:

    I think that Mr John Braithwaite makes some excellent points.

    When I think Tea Party I think of folks who think the Federal Budget needs to be conrtrolled.  That is to say, the debt is going up (due to annual deficits) and there are serious balloon payments out there.  Now is the time to get our house in order.  As for not raising taxes, my concern is that such an action will result in more spending, not less.

    As for the suggestion the Tea Party change it’s name to Know Nothings, that is a terrible insult to one’s fellow citizens of today.  I would think, for example, Marie Sweeney would cringe at such a suggestion.

    Raise taxes?  I wouldn’t be opposed if (1) the spending was finally under control and (2) we fix th tax code so that it wasn’t a make-work program for accountatnts and lawyers and (3) we changed the code so that 85% of adults had to file a return and send in to their Federal Government some nominal amount (I suggest $40 for the year as a minimum tax).

    As for compromise, I would submit that with only 60 members in the Tea Party Caucus the inability to find a compromise sits at Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s doorstep.  On the other hand, I congratulate her for great party discipline.

    Finally, the Tea Party folks were elected by their fellow citizens, went to Washington on a mission, and did what they were sent there to do.  Would we expect any less of them?  Yes, their ideas are cross-ways with those of Lord Kaynes.  But, there is no guarantee Lord Kaynes is correct and some reasons to think he was wrong.  Is dissent no longer to be tolerated in this great nation?  Is dissent no longer the highest form of patriotism.

    Regards  —  Cliff