Taxes. Women hear the word and faint. Children cry. Men purchase TurboTax and hope for the best. Nobody likes paying them, yet there are those within America that take protesting taxes to a completely different level: the infamous Tea Party. The Tea Party movement captured my attention one year ago when the numerous misspelled protest signs were first splattered all over the internet. Curiosity ultimately got the best of me, and I reached out to the Tea Party in my hometown. What is it exactly that they believe in? What makes them tick?
The conversations I had with several protesters led me to a fairly easy conclusion: they're moochers. Every single one of us knows at least one moocher. Like your buddy at the bar who wants to share a pitcher of beer, yet when the bill comes, he doesn't have the cash and will make it up to you "next time." Or the friend you routinely give a ride home from work who never offers to help pay for gas but has no qualms criticizing the lack of air conditioning in your car. Or the president who starts a trillion dollar war on false pretenses and then leaves the check and the mess for the next guy in line. You know, moochers.
Moochers are people who want to enjoy something without having to pay for it. Tea Party protesters, it seems, hate taxes. I was informed by the protesters I spoke to that there is no agenda other than lowering the extremely high taxes Americans are forced to pay. Interesting. Those taxes collect money for public services I rather enjoy, like roads, schools, public transportation, police protection, and those fire fighter guys who were heroes on 9/11. All the above are funded by public tax dollars, and one need only look at faltering American schools nationwide or take a drive down any Michigan highway to understand our infrastructure isn't doing so well. Yet Tea Party protesters want top-notch public services -- they just don't want to pay for any of it.
I casually mentioned to the Tea Party member I spoke to that he must have been livid about the Iraq War. He acted surprised by my comment and informed me he was a supporter of the invasion. I casually mentioned that the Congressional Budget Office estimates we've spent $752 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, funding which hasn't come through regular appropriations bills. Add that to our defense budget of $895 billion for the fiscal year of 2010 and our military budget is in the $1.6 trillion neighborhood. To put that in perspective, the planned budget for health care for 2010 is $829 billion, or $818 billion less, which is nearly half of what we spend on defense. That's a lot of cheese.
If Tea Party protesters are truly angry about taxes, they must be mad as hell at our military expenditures, as that's where the majority of our tax dollars are diverted. Shockingly, the protester told me that military spending "is a necessity" and shouldn't be considered when discussing taxes. Now health care, that was an entirely different matter, proving once and for all Tea Party protesters aren't angry about taxes--they're angry about taxes funding programs they don't support, which is basically any program that comes out of President Obama's mouth.
With this knowledge in hand, I watched with amusement as the Tea Party gang rolled into Boston and handed out "Don't Tread on Me" flags. Of course they don't want to be treaded on -- moochers hate being mooched upon. After all, it's their job to be the social pariah, not somebody else's. And the rally in Boston was all the more humorous with Sarah Palin as their queen bee. She fits right in as their mooching spokesperson. Palin chose to enter the realm of public service as the governor of Alaska and, when it became apparent she could make more money doing public speaking events and working for the media she claims to hate, she quit doing her public service. No wonder Palin seemed perplexed by Obama's background as a community organizer--she couldn't comprehend a community that didn't organize around her.
The only true question left is how this Tea Party movement got started. How could moochers look beyond their own self-interest and engage in collective action? The answer seems simple. In November of last year Michele Bachmann, a Republican House member from Minnesota, had a Tea Party rally in Washington. And the $14,000 worth of equipment and security necessary to allow that rally came from none other than -- you guessed it -- the American taxpayers.
Scott Janssen is graduate student, blogger, and all-around drain on society.