Tuesday, July 7

Marching On Taxes: Spirited Minorities


By comparison, Tea Party rallies across the country didn't seem to pack as much punch on July 4 as they did on April 15, which is the date Americans file their tax returns with the IRS. Any why would they, as they competed with one of most revered national holidays?

According to TEAPartyDay.com, 1,504 cities participated, which is down from more than 2,000 reported to have held rallies in April. However, despite asking marchers to give up a few hours of their holiday, the sentiment was still felt in those cities from Boston to Santa Barbara.

The Santa Barbara Tea Party

Led by Buffalo Bill (Rolland Jacks) and Calamity Jane (Patty Engel) on horseback, the Santa Barbara Tea Party & Culpepper Society Contingent provided a surreal and spirited conclusion to Saturday's Spirit of ’76 Foundation Parade, with signs ranging from "Party Like It's 1776" and "Mad as Hell!" Despite being on the roster, the Tea Party marchers in Santa Barbara even seemed to catch the emcee with a loss for words.

"Oh, and let's hear it for the First Amendment," the local on-air personality offered up.

The marchers — concerned with out-of-control government spending, the escalating deficit, and rapid government bailouts — were thin compared to the rally of hundreds at another event held the day before. And although nonpartisan, some the signage sported on Independence Day was decidedly conservative as it included signs that laid the blame on liberals.

Where the Santa Barbara Tea Party & Culpepper Society Contingent wins, however, is in its organization, friendliness, and diversity. Frequently, newscasts tend to lean toward providing older men on-air time. But in Santa Barbara, the marchers were well represented by diverse ages and ethnicities. The crowd was evenly split, with about half offering a show of support (and some joining in) while the other half was more concerned with heading to their cars before the parade broke.

Mixing Independence Day Messages

On one hand, holding Tea Party rallies on Independence Day seems fitting enough. On the other, it adds a sad concluding commentary on a day meant to celebrate a past that some people feel is quietly slipping away. And why wouldn't it?

Even excluding the postal service, the federal government is the largest employer in the United States with between 1.8 and 2.7 million civilian employees. Add in state and local government, and those government employees swell to 22 million, excluding education. Currently, education and health services account for 19 million jobs.

In counties like Leon in Florida, Champaign in Illinois, and Johnson in Iowa, government employment soar to 18 to 25 percent of total employment. When you consider total households, that may mean that more than 50 percent of all households in some areas have at least one government employee. And, when you add in federally funded nonprofit organizations and government contractors, it becomes relatively easy to see why voting against bigger government is not always in the best interest of the majority of Americans.

Of course, there are two sides of the coin. Some people claim that a high percentage of government workers provides a shield against unemployment. Others might argue that state and local government employees earning $10 to $20 more per hour than private employees are the cause, especially because more than 40 percent of those government workers are represented by unions (only 9 percent of private citizens are represented).

If health care is ever nationalized, it would mean more than 41 million people would be directly employed by government or almost 1/3 of the working population. It's an interesting statistic in that 1/3 of the working population would touch the majority of working households. And then what?

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