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Thursday, 15 April 2010 05:00

Happy Tax Day! While Tea Partiers Waste our Money on Mindless Protests, Let's Take a Moment to Give Thanks for the Public Good

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BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

If there's one annual holiday exclusively dedicated to bitching and moaning, it's Tax Day. Whether it's complaints of confusing IRS forms, long lines at the post office or government waste, everyone has got a gripe today.

So, perhaps we're all a little crabby today. But no one whines louder or more nonsensically than the Tea Partiers. All over the nation there will be angry protests over the civic duty of paying taxes.

Of course, none of them will stop to wonder who pays for the police officers securing tea party safety at these events. Who pays for the parks, town squares and state capitol buildings where the protesters gather? Who pays the salaries of the politicians who address these angry people?

That's right: taxpayers. And let me tell ya, it ain't cheap.

Perhaps the best illustration of this is the tea party rally held last November, organized by Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Tom Price of Georgia, Todd Akin of Missouri and Steve King of Iowa. The rally, dubbed a "House Call on Washington" cost taxpayers a whopping $13,600, as revealed by official expense reports.

This is the same rally promoted by the obtusely violent Bachmann as an opportunity to look one's representative in "the whites of their eyes," a phrase most of us remember from war/Western movies. This was also the same rally which was promoted on Bachmann's website, leading to requests for investigation of improper use of a taxpayer-funded website, though such charges have now been dismissed.

But do the tea partiers care? Not really. The Minneapolis Star Tribune did find one tea party official who was a bit miffed at the revelation:

Learning that taxpayer funds were used did strike a note of discomfort with Twin Cities Tea Party co-founder Deanna Boss, who arranged for more than 100 Minnesotans to attend the rally. Boss said she would have preferred that private donors had financed the event, given her and other activists' criticism of excessive government spending.

"I mean, we're broke," she said, referring to the national debt. "Every penny counts here."

But honestly, most of tea partiers appear entirely unable to understand the term "irony," much less "hypocrisy."

So I propose as an alternative to the uninformed, counter-productive and wasteful rallies taking place all over the country protesting taxation, let's turn Tax Day into a thanksgiving of sorts.

Sure, I'm pissed that the government spends around 20 percent of federal tax revenue on defense and what I see as unnecessary and damaging wars. I'm also upset that the government thinks those who oppose abortion are more entitled to their views on morality than I am. But there are a lot of things I'm really glad the government funds.

  • I'm thankful for the Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago -- even though it's named after a man who made the Chi-town political machine the immovable object it is today and despite the fact that tea partiers will be mobbing it today -- because it gives local farmers a place to come every Thursday throughout the summer to sell me fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • I'm thankful that the Department of Transportation continues to fund the trains and buses that got me to work today. 
  • I'm thankful for the Federal Aviation Administration, which will allow me to fly to New York this weekend without being justified in worrying that another plane might just crash into mine. 
  • I'm thankful for the dozens of public schools in my neighborhood, not because I even know any Chicago-area school-aged kids, but because I believe they should have a place to learn (and eat, for those who can't afford breakfast and/or lunch) regardless of whether their parents can afford tuition.
  • I'm thankful for the cops policing the crazy drunks that started streaming out of Wrigley Field and into my neighborhood on the Cubs' opening day this week.
  • I'm thankful for the government's foreclosure prevention program that is keeping blight and foreclosure from destroying Chicago neighborhoods all over the city. 
  • I'm thankful that at least some of the 9.7 percent of jobless Americans have access to unemployment benefits. 
  • I'm even thankful for my tax cut, as I'm one of the 95 percent of Americans who received one this year.

I could go on, but I think you see my point. Unfortunately, tea partiers don't. From the seniors on Medicare protesting government-run healthcare to the Michele Bachmann fans screaming out against government waste, tea partiers can only see what they pay in (assuming they are paying in, which I'm willing to bet many aren't), not what they get out of government largess.

But that's what the world looks like when you wear tea-colored glasses: The media is against you, the government wants to take your guns, and your congressperson is basically just setting fire to your hard-earned cash (though I guess if you live in Bachmann's district that last item is partly true...).

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS