BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
There are times when one feels he is being mentally “water-boarded.” One feels the utter torture of strangling and drowning in too much babble applied too fast by the mentally cruel. The tea-bag day, sponsored by the Republican Party right and promoted by right-wing media such as Fox News and talk shows like Rush Limbaugh, has produced in some of us a feeling of being awash in a sea of idiocy.
In Texas we have people waving the American flag and yelling, “Secede,” all the while being encouraged by Gov. Rick Perry with a rousing speech on the imagined persecution from the federal government. These are probably some of the same people who criticized candidate Barack Obama for forgetting his flag lapel pin.
The same people who waved the flag when the Republican president, George W. Bush, sent off our troops and blew our fortune on an unnecessary war are now criticizing Obama for trying to save the country by spending money on our own neglected public infrastructure improvements they have neglected to finance at the state level.
The signs carried by protesters at the tax day rallies varied to include numerous complaints. Some were against taxes, some against bailouts, some about spending, some about guns, some about socialism, a few against the Federal Reserve system, and even social security, Medicare, and Medicaid caught a share. “Conspiracy theory” ideas abounded.
The historic slogan, “taxation without representation,” was displayed prominently by uninformed and ignorant protesters, who didn’t seem to realize the error and misapplication.
Some people in Alaska were hostile about federal taxes and expenditures along Gov. Sarah Palin’s prevaricating style of, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Yet Alaska receives $1.83 for every dollar in federal taxes paid.
These protesters were mostly ordinary looking people, who probably do not make $250,000 or more per year. Therefore, they were likely among the 95% of taxpayers whose taxes are actually being lowered under the Obama plan. Those few who are making over $250,000 will pay the same rate as under the Clinton presidency, and considerably less than under the Republican Reagan regime.
Many of those protesting the government as becoming socialistic probably have relatives on Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid. Some have probably drawn unemployment or workers’ compensation benefits. All depend on the FDA to regulate their drugs. They rely on the government to protect their peanut butter from salmonella and their lettuce from e-coli. There is a myriad of government services upon which all of us must rely.
Not all anti-government groups are alike. Some have one concern and some another. One component group is the white supremacist movement. A related group is the militia movement. Some of these extremist groups recruit from veterans. Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols were associates of such groups.
The accumulating national debt worries all of us. That is a legitimate concern. Of course, we should have thought of that earlier when we let the Bush regime lower taxes and go off to fight wars with “off the budget” appropriations. We should have thought of that when we were deregulating the banking and finance industries that brought on this mess. Those deregulators told us that big government was the problem.
It is likely true that as soon as our economy is functioning well, we will need to raise some taxes to reduce deficits and debt. Economists agree that now is not the time.
The thing that bothers us most about the recent round of media-promoted protests is that it continues the program of disinformation carried out by the right-wing political sector. More and more people are being turned to the mind-set of hating their own government, particularly the federal government. This rhetorical anti-government campaign qualifies for the dictionary definition for sedition, and may be considered by some as more than subtle suborning of treason.
Our democratic constitution gives us the right of free speech and a free press. None of us would dare suggest that be changed. But one might suggest that these rights not be used to undermine the democratic government that it undergirds. With those rights comes an obligation to be factually correct, and to be restrained about inciting a rebellion against the government.
It is OK to disagree with our new president’s proposals, but it would be fair to give him a chance if these are based upon sound, scientific thinking. But the open encouragement of an anti-government ideology, as is occurring, can only lead eventually to violence.
Unfortunately the same freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution, if used irresponsibly, give us the rights and processes to destroy our own democratic government.
– Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer