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February 8, 2010 at 4:00 PM

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Anyone for tea?

Posted by Letters editor

‘Tea party’ an erroneous moniker

Editor, The Times:

The National Tea Party Convention last weekend brings to mind just how perfectly appropriate the name is to this movement [“Tea-party convention a milestone,” page one, Feb. 5]. Like their predecessors tossing tea in Boston Harbor in December of 1773, they profess a righteous nonpolitical people’s movement against the tyranny of governmental oppression. In neither case is this actually true.

Most Americans believe the Boston Tea Party was a protest against a British tax on tea. In truth, that tax dated back six years to 1767, so why the long delay? Because the “party” was actually a protest against a seven-month-old British act that reduced tea taxes so that the better-tasting British tea became price-competitive with the less-desirable Dutch tea smuggled into the American colonies by men such as Samuel Adams — who organized the tea party to protect his business but promoted it to Bostonians as righteous indignation.

The modern tea party pretends to attract disgruntled citizens of all walks. Its modern equivalent to Adams appears to be the Koch family — one of the richest families in America, whose Koch Industries is the largest privately held American corporation, doing about $110 billion in annual business in oil and gas [industries]. The corporation helps fund many conservative lobby groups and think tanks, so it’s doubtful they believe in apolitical populist movements — Google them and you’ll find stories of lawsuits, multimillion-dollar settlements, environmental disasters and family members accusing other family members of organized crime.

— David Richardson, Shoreline

Tea party symptomatic of larger problem

The recent tax revolt led by the tea party is understandable, but misguided. An economic climate exists that began with Milton Friedman’s “neoliberalism” and grew with Thomas Friedman’s “flat earth” globalism, in which the economic playing field has been leveled through competition with slave-wage countries.

Beginning with Carter’s relaxation on trade tariffs — continuing full force with Reagan, the both Bushs, Clinton and now Obama — we have essentially become a Third World country and the largest debtor nation in the world.

We now have an aristocratic corporate elite with an obscene amount of wealth. The upper class that used to be represented by professionals such as doctors and lawyers are now the middle class. The working class that attained middle-class status through New Deal gains and strong labor unions have now become a labor class struggling to make ends meat and resenting taxes — despite the fact that state and federal governments can’t pay the bills either.

The tea party revolt is a symptom, but not a solution. I wonder if they realize the possible consequences of their revolt, such as the cessation of government programs such as Social Security and Medicare?

— Chris Anderson, Seattle

Convention wasn’t fiscally responsible

Let me get this straight: Tea partyers paid over $500 to attend their convention, $300 to hear Sarah Palin — who was paid $100,000 — and these people are screaming about deficit spending?

I’d be willing to stand in front of these folks and mouth empty-headed platitudes for 45 minutes for only $75,000. If they had any real sense of fiscal responsibility, they’d take me up on my offer.

— Timothy Walsh, Seattle

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