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First of a three-part series
For today's monolithically liberal Democratic Party, every solution to every perceived problem involves more government: more spending of borrowed money to fund new programs -- top-down dictates from new laws enforced by new bureaucrats who are presumed to care more, and most important, know better what you need.
That's not how Tea Partiers roll.
And that's not how most Americans roll, either. Would anyone voluntarily bail out strangers living thousands of miles away who lied on their applications to buy a home? Of course not. It's a stupid idea that rewards bad behavior. "You Can't Fix Stupid, But You Can Vote It Out of Office," reads a popular Tea Party protest sign. Consumers in free markets uncorrupted by regulatory favoritism vote untold millions of times a day, punishing irrational behavior, bad actors, and liar loans with equal and swift justice.
Government, on the other hand, socializes bad behavior, taking from the responsible and giving to the irresponsible.
Americans are special because our founding was conceived in liberty. It was in the genes of the Sons of Liberty who risked their lives, fortunes and sacred honor for an idea. That genetic code makes our family, our community and our country unique in all the world. Dick remembers a conversation with a friend who had emigrated from Ethiopia and was so proud that he had just completed his naturalization requirements for U.S. citizenship.
He couldn't stop talking about it. He spoke about the U.S. Constitution, about the Founders and about freedom. As proud as he was of his heritage, he was a different man: He was an American.
Liberals now in control of our government seem bent on apologizing for the United States, striving to, in the words of President Obama, "remake America." They want to remake us to look more like European social democracies. Liberals don't talk about democratic socialism anymore; they use new phrases like "social justice."
Justice means treating every individual with respect and decency and exactly the same as anyone else is treated under the laws of the land. As best we can tell, "social justice" translates to politicians redistributing your hard-earned income to their favored social agendas. In Europe, this translates into bloated social welfare programs that punish work; massive tax burdens, particularly on the working class through hidden value-added taxes that crush economic expansion; and structural barriers to opportunity for younger generations of have-nots trying to enter the work force.
The politics of greed is always wrapped in the language of love. When you hear someone prattle on about social justice, read between the lines. More government control of health care is not really about improving access to health care; it's about controlling your health care.
It is time to take America back. We need to reclaim America from the advocates of big government in both political parties, from the rent-seeking corporations eager to use the power of government to enrich themselves at the expense of consumers and taxpayers, and from the web of left-wing special interests who feed at the public trough and consider it their right to do so.
If you want to comprehend the energy and passion behind the citizen activists of the Tea Party that are fighting this corrosive ideology of redistribution, understand this: We believe that America's founders got it right and that Europe got it wrong. Individual liberty is the unity of purpose that binds the Tea Party movement into a cohesive community. Freedom unleashed is a potent force for social change.
Excerpted from "Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto" by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and Freedomworks President and CEO Matt Kibbe
First of a three-part seriesFor today's monolithically liberal Democratic Party, every solution to every perceived problem involves more government: more spending of borrowed money to fund new programs -- top-down dictates from new laws enforced by new bureaucrats who are presumed to care more, and most important, know better what you need.That's not how Tea Partiers roll.
It may not please New Yorker magazine’s James Surowiecki to hear this, but the tea party movement could be the clearest evidence yet of the growing relevance of his landmark book, “The Wisdom of Crowds,” and its application in politics.
Surowiecki’s fundamental insight is this: The aggregate knowledge, experience, analytical prowess and inductive powers of a group are often greater than those of any one of its members. This observation isn’t always and everywhere true or evident, but compelling demonstrations of its operation in daily life are plentiful.
With everybody connected to everybody else via the Internet, new means of uncovering the wisdom of crowds become possible. The political implications therein remain rather murky, though.
I was reminded of Surowiecki earlier this week in a Wall Street Journal op-ed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and his tea party co-conspirator, Freedomworks.org President Matt Kibbe. The Journal piece coincided with publication of their new book, “Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto,” published by HarperCollins.
Armey and Kibbe wrote that the tea party movement “has blossomed into a powerful social phenomenon because it is leaderless — not directed by any one mind, political party or parochial agenda,” resulting in the creation of “a virtual marketplace for new ideas, effective innovations and creative tactics.”
This “beautiful chaos” is analogous to the “spontaneous order” Nobel Prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek said results from the proper operation of free markets, according to Armey and Kibbe.
The clincher here was their noting that the tea party movement reminds Americans that “decentralization, not top-down hierarchy, is the best way to maximize the contributions of people and their personal knowledge.”
But if Armey and Kibbe are right, if the tea party movement is indeed sparking new ideas, innovative tactics of social and political organization, greater personal freedom and enhanced opportunities for individual expression, why is its mere mention certain to inspire frothing, spittle-spewing fury in your typical liberal, aka “progressive”?
The answer is, as Armey and Kibbe tell us, “the big-government crowd is drawn to the compulsory nature of centralized authority. They can’t imagine an undirected social order. Someone needs to be in charge — someone who knows better. Big government is audacious and conceited.”
Put otherwise, the right believes in freedom from the bottom up, the left loves contemporary expressions of the Guardians, Plato’s race of philosopher kings.
Once you get your mind around that reality, it clears up many of the apparent anomalies about the current state of American politics. Here’s an example: Less than two years after winning the presidency, Barack Obama said, “After 18 months, I have never been more confident that our nation is headed in the right direction.”
That sentiment puts Obama at dire loggerheads with two-thirds of his fellow citizens, who think he’s taking the country off the deep end.
Obama is reaching so far to the left, toward political centralization, a top-down command-and-control economy, and a Washington-knows-best regulatory mentality, that he’s becoming a fringe voice alien to most Americans who believe government authority must be decentralized and individuals thereby empowered to act voluntarily from their local communities.
The tea party movement is the heart of the 70 percent of the citizenry who fear Obama has gotten the country seriously off the right track. They want fundamental change and they won’t settle for more Washington, D.C., double-talk, backroom dealing or broken promises.
Tea party activists are the vanguard of a revolutionary renewal of the American founding. And that’s why they inspire such irrational hatred and fear in so many of the precincts of the left.
Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott’s Copy Desk blog at www.washingtonexaminer.com.
It may not please New Yorker magazine’s James Surowiecki to hear this, but the tea party movement could be the clearest evidence yet of the growing relevance of his landmark book, “The Wisdom of Crowds,” and its application in politics.Surowiecki’s fundamental insight is this: The aggregate knowledge, experience, analytical prowess and inductive powers of a group are often greater than those of any one of its members. This observation isn’t always and everywhere true or evident, but compelling demonstrations of its operation in daily life are plentiful.
<p>Stop. Put down your BlackBerry, stop typing that e-mail, and turn down that podcast for just a second. Then close your eyes and try to remember what life was like without the Internet.</p>
<p>It wasn’t all that long ago that we lived in a world without iTunes or Amazon, without eBay or online banking, without YouTube or Google, where personal e-mail accounts were rare and no one knew what a blog was. </p>
<p>It's easy to forget, but, in a little more than a decade, the Internet boom has fundamentally reshaped much of American life and business, creating a fountain of digital wealth and online opportunity for millions of Americans.</p>
<p>There are no doubt many reasons for the net’s success, but one of them is surely that, since its inception, it has remained that rare thing in the U.S. economy: a tax free zone. In 1998, President Clinton, recognizing that the net’s potential for growth was best left untouched by the grubby hands of the government, joined with the Republican Congress to place a moratorium on taxing Internet access and services.</p>
<p>In 2004, despite opposition from a small cadre of senators, that ban was extended. But now it's about to expire once again, and Congress will need to vote to reauthorize it. When they do, the moratorium should be made permanent.</p>
<p>The tax ban has obviously made the Internet business-friendly, but it's also resulted in a boon for average Americans, piping heretofore unimaginable informational power into the homes of millions. Approximately 35 percent of U.S. households—comprising more than 58 million Americans—now have broadband access.</p>
<p>This is good news, but it leaves much room for improvement. There still exists a vast “digital divide” between those upper and middle income households with broadband access and those without. 61 percent of homes with six-figure incomes have broadband, but that’s true of only 11 percent of homes with incomes below $30,000.</p>
<p>Needless to say, affordability is a big factor. A connection tax could add 20-25 percent to an annual service bill, resulting in a price spike of about $150 a year — and putting broadband access further out of reach for many lower-income families.</p>
<p>Don't think it won’t happen.</p>
<p>The rest of the telecom sector is already beset by far heavier taxes than most consumer goods. A recent study by the Council on State Taxation reports that telecom sector services like tax rates on cable television and wireless phones average over 14 percent, compared with a 6 percent average tax rate on general business.</p>
<p>Next time you get your cell phone bill, take a look at all the extra fees and charges tacked on at the end. If the Internet tax moratorium is lifted, broadband bills could end up padded with the same sort unnecessary fees.</p>
<p>And consumer bills, while important, aren’t all that's at stake.</p>
<p>The Internet has been a prime mover in the country’s recent economic growth — one report found that communications and information technology accounted for a whopping 80 percent of the country’s economic growth in 2003 and 2004 — so taxing net access would be like attaching a lead weight to the nation's economy.</p>
<p>And don’t listen to those who shrug at the effects of taxes on telecom usage: The market is highly affected by price. At a recent Senate hearing, Jeff Dircksen of the National Taxpayer’s Union noted that telecom taxes and fees have been estimated to result in as much as $2.6 billion in losses annually.</p>
<p>Pro-tax advocates have tried to claim that tax rates have no serious effect on broadband adoption, but that’s simply not the case. Like it or not, taxes have consequences.</p>
<p>Ronald Reagan once said, “There are no such things as limits to growth, because there are no limits on the human capacity for intelligence, imagination and wonder,” and nowhere is that more true than the Internet.</p>
<p>One hopes that Congress remembers this and votes not to shackle the Internet with any artificial limits in search of short-term gain.</p>
<p>That’s bound to make voters happy too. Everyone wants to hear “you've got mail,” but no one likes the sound of “you've got taxes.”</p>
<p>Peter Suderman is a policy analyst at FreedomWorks.</p>
<p>Stop. Put down your BlackBerry, stop typing that e-mail, and turn down that podcast for just a second. Then close your eyes and try to remember what life was like without the Internet.</p> <p>It wasn’t all that long ago that we lived in a world without iTunes or Amazon, without eBay or online banking, without YouTube or Google, where personal e-mail accounts were rare and no one knew what a blog was. </p>