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TEA PARTY 2006
By ALLISON KILKENNY
For years, colonialists have been angered by the policy of taxation without representation. The famous protester, John Hancock, arranges a boycott of the monopolistic British East India Company. Hancock begins to smuggle tea into the country illegally without paying taxes. Britain responds by allowing the East India Company to sell directly to the colonies thereby undercutting the profits of smugglers.
The East India Company is aided by lobbyists and powerful members of Parliament. The smugglers, including Samuel Adams and John Hancock, call for East India Company colonial employees to abandon their jobs.
Meanwhile, in an underground cellar in a Bostonian pub, the Sons of Liberty, the secret organization of American Patriots, are detained by British guards. Unbeknown to SoL members, they had been infiltrated by British spies, who have been reporting the group’s activities to His Majesty for the past five months. The Sons of Liberty are now a “terrorist organization,” and the members are arrested. The group is never able to meet Adams and Hancock at the harbor in order to dump the tea.
Undeterred, Adams and Hancock decide to dump the tea themselves. The Revolutionaries don war paint and feathers and sneak toward the ship. They are immediately stopped by Captain Roach and the royal governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson.
Hutchinson: Where’s your permit?
Adams: Our what?
Hutchinson: Your permit. You need a permit to protest here.
Hancock: Well, we didn’t have time to apply for one. Drastic times call for drastic measures, you know.
Adams: Anyway, there’s really no permit available for what we want to do...
Hutchinson: Which is what?
Adams: Dump the East India Company’s tea.
Roach: Good heavens! That’s positively Revolutionary!
Adams: That’s sort of the idea, yeah...
Hutchinson: You don’t really intend to break the law, do you?
Roach: Jesus H. Christ! The absolute Gall!
Hutchinson: No go. Sorry.
Hancock: Oh, C’mon!
Hutchinson: Nope. No.
Hutchinson: Tell you what: You can throw one tea bag into the harbor, but only one of you can go onto the ship. And you can’t make any noise. And take off those silly costumes. And the other one of you has to wait in a little pen I will construct out of wood and some mud. And did I mention you mustn’t raise your voice, or I will fine you a week’s wages?
(Enter stage left): A man appears from the shadows, scribbling furiously on parchment.
Man: Thomas Paine: citizen journalist! Are you repressing their right to freedom of expression?!
Hutchinson: (Tasers Paine)
Roach: That freedom doesn’t exist yet, punk. (Kicks Paine in the kidney)
Paine: (Cries in pain)
Adams: Holy crap!
Hutchinson: So what were you boys saying?
Adams and Hancock: Nothing! Nothing....
Adams and Hancock back away, hands held up in surrender before they turn and run away.
Americans take for granted their rights to taxation with representation, to protest, and to maintain certain human dignities. Oftentimes, they forget that the founding fathers were radicals, who broke the law, and faced the possibility of execution as they thumbed their noses at King George.
The $700 billion dollar bailout of Wall Street is exactly the kind of taxation without representation that the founding fathers fought to reject over 200 years ago. Taxpayers, who had no control over predatory lending and shady deregulation, are now responsible for paying the bill while CEOs jump out of windows with their golden parachutes strapped safely to their backs.
At today’s Wall Street protest, Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzales, the Independent party presidential and vice-presidential nominees, called for the immediate termination of this taxpayer bailout. Just as the founding fathers rejected the tyrannical reign of King George, so Nader/Gonzales reject the tyrannical reign of George W. Bush and his corporate cronies.
In none of the presidential debates have either Barack Obama or John McCain called the bailout exactly what it is -- the bailout of capitalism and the unfair continuation of socialized debt with privatized profit.
Reaction to the worsening state of the economy has been tame for obvious reasons. The protest of America’s forefathers would be impossible today as illustrated in the fantasy Boston Tea Party above. Protesters would be immediately arrested and incarcerated if they took to Wall Street and lit Federal Hall ablaze. That kind of behavior would be called radical, Anarchist, and obscene.
So it’s too much to ask for a revolution, but at the least, politicians should speak frankly about the hold corporations and crooked capitalism have on the country. The media has performed a blackout on third party candidates during this sham of an election, which is entirely financed by corporations like AT&T and Wachovia.
Americans can’t expect to have a frank and honest discussion about Constitutional violations (like wiretapping) and taxpayer bailouts of banks when the sponsors of their debates are the very entities under scrutiny: the phone companies and the banks. This is like asking McDonald’s to finance health education programs. Sponsoring debates about their own failings would work against the interests of these corporations, which is why there has been zero talk about wiretapping phones and the faltering of Free Trade policies.
For the sake of the American spirit, citizens must summon the same outrage felt that day on 1773. Citizens must reject the bailout, the neutered election process, and they must open the debates to third party candidates in order to reinvigorate the environment of passionate discussion missing in this 2008 election. Nearly half of the American people think Ralph Nader should be allowed in the presidential debates. They long to see the candidates challenged on issues like universal health care and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, instead of the normal, bland repetition of tired stump speeches. Now is the time to reinvigorate the American political process, and the first step is letting third party candidates into the debates.
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