The High Cost of Tea

The tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003, known as the Bush tax cuts, are set to expire December 3.  Obama’s proposal would extend most of these reductions, allowing only those for individuals making more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000 to expire.

If a candidate believes that the Bush tax cuts should be extended to the wealthy (over $250K for a family) and if you are not wealthy

The average American income for both sexes combined and irrespective of race, color or education, whether earning or not earning and with the only constraint that the sample set consists only of individuals above 25 years of age, is $43,362.

then you should not vote for him or her.  That candidate most likely is too rich to identify with you and/or is in the pocket of the wealthy.

Here is a parable by way of a true story:

Back in 1872 a man named W.B. Espeut got the idea that Indian mongooses might take care of the rat problem in Jamaica if turned loose in the sugar cane fields there. So he sailed across the ocean to Calcutta on a ship called the Merchantman, captured four male and five female mongooses (one pregnant) and brought them back across the ocean to Jamaica.

Twenty years later, in a journal article, Espeut gave the mongooses rave reviews. Besides killing rats, he wrote, “snakes, lizards, crabs, toads and the grubs of many beetles and caterpillars have been destroyed.”

Espeut’s paper captured the interest of Hawaii sugar planters, but not everyone was convinced that importing mongooses was a good idea. In an 1883 issue of Planters Monthly, someone wrote, “Whether it would be wise to introduce the animal to these Islands may be a question. It would be important to first learn more of the nature of the creature, for they may prove an evil.”

Unfortunately, no one heeded this anonymous writer’s advice. That same year, 72 Jamaica mongooses were loaded onto a ship and sailed to the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island. Later, offspring of these animals were released on Maui, Molokai and Oahu. One story says that Kauai people didn’t want mongooses on their island, and when a shipment reached there, the animals were thrown overboard in the harbor and drowned. To this day, Kauai hosts no mongooses.

But the other islands have them and it’s been a disaster.

Mongooses do eat rats, it turns out, but not enough to control rat populations. Sugar crops on Maui, Oahu, Molokai and the Big Island suffered as much economic damage from rats as those on Kauai. Far worse is the mongoose appetite for ground-nesting birds and their eggs. Our much-loved nene, or Hawaiian goose, nearly became extinct due to mongoose predation. Mongooses also wiped out Newell’s shearwaters on Oahu, Molokai, Maui and the Big Island.

Because Hawaii hosts no natural predators for mongooses, they have to be trapped or poisoned to keep their populations in check. Getting rid of them completely is nearly impossible. They are as much survivors as the rats they were brought here to eliminate.

All the mongooses in Hawaii today are descendants of those first nine animals brought to Jamaica.

My point is that you may introduce new people to congress who not only may not fix the problem, but may create a worse one.

Tea partiers in the under $200,000 demographic, instead of shouting Throw the bastards out! need to know more about the people that they are supporting.  Here are some snippets from the news:

Frank Rich: Billionaires Create and Fund Phony Tea Party and Hire Useful Idiots to Sell Its Lies

..local chapters of Tea Party Patriots routinely received early training and support from FreedomWorks, the moneyed libertarian outfit run by the former Republican House majority leader and corporate lobbyist Dick Armey. FreedomWorks is itself a spinoff from Citizens for a Sound Economy, a pseudo-grassroots group whose links to the billionaire Koch brothers were traced by Jane Mayer in her blockbuster August exposé in The New Yorker. Last week the same Tea Party Patriots leader who bragged to the National Journal about all those small donations announced a $1 million gift from a man she would identify only as an entrepreneur. The donor’s hidden identity speaks even louder than the size of the check. As long as we don’t know who he is, we won’t know what orders he’s giving either.

Such deep-pocketed mystery benefactors — not O’Donnell, whose reported income for this year and last is $5,800 — are the real indicators of what’s going on under the broad Tea Party rubric. Big money rains down on the “bottom up” Tea Party insurgency through phantom front organizations (Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Job Security) that exploit legal loopholes to keep their sugar daddies’ names secret. Reporters at The Times and The Washington Post, among others, have lately made real strides in explaining how the game works. But we still don’t know the identities of most of those anonymous donors.

From what we do know, it’s clear that some Tea Party groups and candidates like Sharron Angle, Paul and O’Donnell are being financed directly or indirectly not just by the Kochs (who share the No. 5 spot on the new Forbes 400) but by a remarkable coterie of fellow billionaires, led by oil barons like Robert Rowling (Forbes No. 69) and Trevor Rees-Jones (No. 110). Even their largess may be dwarfed by Rupert Murdoch (No. 38) and his News Corporation, whose known cash contributions ($2 million to Republican and Republican-tilting campaign groups) are dwarfed by the avalanche of free promotion they provide Tea Party causes and personalities daily at Fox and The Wall Street Journal.

However much these corporate contributors may share the Tea Party minions’ antipathy toward President Obama, their economic interests hardly overlap. The rank and file Tea Partiers say they oppose government spending and deficits. The billionaires have no problem with federal spending as long as the pork is corporate pork. They, like most Republican leaders in 2008, supported the Bush administration’s Wall Street bailout. They also don’t mind deficits as long as they get their outsize cut of the red ink — $3.8 trillion worth if all the Bush tax cuts are made permanent.


Editorial:  Party’s Big Money

Dick Armey, the former House Republican leader, considers himself a godfather of the Tea Party and is co-author of the book, “Give Us Liberty: a Tea Party Manifesto.” Writing in The Wall Street Journal, he called for a “hostile takeover” of the Republican Party, which sounds so very revolutionary until one remembers that he helped lead that party for many years, guiding its policies and raising its money. When he left office in 2003, he cashed in on his connections to become a very high-paid lobbyist at DLA Piper, one of Washington’s biggest law firms, which has clients that include health-care companies, energy producers and foreign governments.

Then there is Carl Paladino, the Tea Party-backed Republican nominee for governor of New York. His bloodcurdling denunciations of Albany never seem to mention that he is one of the biggest landlords of state agencies, owning properties with $85 million in taxpayer leases in Buffalo alone that provide him with income of more than $5 million a year. He is the biggest property owner in Buffalo, and much of his empire has been constructed with state development incentives and tax breaks.

There are undoubtedly thousands of Tea Partiers who would love to purge Washington of well-connected lobbyists, high-priced political consultants and others who take millions of taxpayer dollars while condemning the lawmakers who spend it. They should take a long look at the leaders and candidates who are driving their movement and decide whether purging begins at home.


Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Gives GOP Governors Association $1 Million

For anybody still harboring the belief that the Tea Party movement is a grassroots insurgency, you may want to look at where two of the movement’s biggest backers are throwing their cash. Politico’s Ben Smith reports that News Corporation, the parent company of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal,  and David Koch, the oil magnate who chairs the board of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (the Koch-funded astroturf powerhouse behind a lot of Tea Party organizing), each threw a cool $1 million at the Republican Governors Association — hardly a rogue operation, and very much a part of the Republican establishment.

I may give up drinking tea.

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One Response to “The High Cost of Tea”

  1. Jim Says:

    Better Rat Terrier Tea Parties than Mongoose Tea Parties
    A bipartisan demand for return to Constitutional Rule of Law is a common Tea Party demand. The large number of women who have come forward to lead exerts a moderating influence. Attempts to infiltrate and exploit the Tea Parties are historically predictable. The high price asked by the Tea Parties of the rich ruling plutocrats is only their political careers; and with the Tea Parties being heavily armed, they have little choice but to peacefully comply. A better choice than the mongoose, to be rid of the rats, would have been the Rat Terrier. America is at the only start of a long overdue revolution, it will be interesting to see if turns out like Jefferson expected.

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