Immigrants are US

Immigrants Are US

Care to know a little history behind immigration to the United States? Here is a time line with numbers showing legal immigrants to the United States, some coming of their own freewill and others who did not.

1607: Jamestown Colony in Virginia
1619: Approximately 20 Africans forced into slavery in Jamestown.
1620: Roughly 100 people, later known as Pilgrims, come to what is known today as Plymouth, Massachusetts.
1630 to 1640: Approximately 20,000 Puritans arrive in the region.
1680: Roughly 7,000 African slaves in the colonies.
1790: Approximately 700,000 slaves in the US, with between 500,000 to 650,000 brought between 17th and 19th centuries.
1821-1830: 143,439 immigrants to the US.
1831-1840: 599,125 immigrants to the US.
1841-1850: 1,713,251 immigrants to the US.
1851-1860: 2,598,214 immigrants to the US.
1861-1870: 2,314,825 immigrants to the US.
1871-1880: 2,812,191 immigrants to the US.
1881-1890: 5,246,613 immigrants to the US.
1891-1900: 3,687,564 immigrants to the US.
1900-1910: 8,795,386 immigrants to the US.
1911-1920: 5,735,811 immigrants to the US.
1921-1930: 4,107,209 immigrants to the US.
1931-1940: 532,431 immigrants to the US.
1941-1950: 1,095,039 immigrants to the US.
1951-1960: 2,515,479 immigrants to the US.
1961-1970: 3,321,677 immigrants to the US.
1971-1980: 4,493,314 immigrants to the US.
1981-1990: 7,338,062 immigrants to the US.
1991-2000: 9,095,417 immigrants to the US.
2001-2010: 13,900,000 immigrants to the US.

Between the years of 1820-2000, the following numbers of immigrants came to the US from each of these countries:

Germany: 7 million
Mexico: 6 million
Great Britain: 5 million
Ireland: 5 million
Italy: 5 million
Canada: 5 million
Austria & Hungary: 4 million
Russia: 4 million
The Philippines:2 million
China: 1 million
Sweden: 1 million

Take a moment to let these numbers sink in. In the last 70 years, approximately 41,758,988 people immigrated to the United States. Those numbers are the legal immigrants. There are likely thousands more undocumented people who have immigrated to the U.S. in those years, including prior to the 1940s. The vast majority of those people came to make a better life for themselves. Many, came due to war, persecution, and famine in their home country. I find it both depressing and ironic that now, under the new administration, there is a movement to deport people and a demonization of immigrants, particularly when many of those people advocating this were either immigrants or the offspring of immigrants only a few generations ago.

Demonizing immigrants isn’t new. After all, the Irish were demonized as they brought a very large influx of poor and Catholic people to the country. The majority Protestant population distrusted them based primarily on their religion. Now, we have the same occurring to people who are immigrating who practice Islam. We also have negative rhetoric about people of Hispanic and Asian decent occurring as well. It’s not the first time Asians have been discriminated against either as many Chinese immigrants were blamed for the decrease in wages when the railroads were built in the 1800s since they would work for lower wages. Hispanics, in particular, are demonized for similar reasons, but not many non-immigrant or non-Hispanic people care to become migrant farmers/pickers either.

The present administration promised to get the “bad hombres” out of the U.S. Yet, we see and hear news reports where people who have been in the U.S. for 20+ years are being deported for something as minor as a DUI that took place decades ago. Hardly the hardened criminal element. In fact, if having a DUI were punishable by deportation, then there are likely plenty of people who should be deported, illegal or not.

Rather than eliminating criminals, what is occurring is the breaking up of families of people who have done nothing major or even nothing at all, except for entering the U.S. without proper documentation. Many of these people have worked since they arrived and done jobs that will go unfilled if they are deported simply because former immigrants and the children/grandchildren of those 41,758,988 people who came to the U.S. since 1940 won’t do the jobs the illegal immigrants do because those jobs pay little and are under extremely harsh conditions. I challenge the unemployed white person to go out and pick vegetables or fruits for 12+ hours a day for low wages. Some may attempt it, but many more won’t even try.

Rather than eliminating criminals, there are children who live in fear that their parents will not be home when they finish school or fear their parents will be arrested when taking them to school or checking in with U.S. immigration services. What happens to these children, some of whom will be orphaned for no good reason? Some will live with neighbors or relatives, but the trauma they experience will not end as it will always be with them.

The United States is a country of immigrants. There is no question as to that, especially if you look at the numbers above. Legal or illegal really doesn’t matter in the long term, especially when you consider that the people we know as the Pilgrims were illegal immigrants. They did not ask permission to stay from the First Nations/Native Americans when they arrived. Instead, they simply stayed and took advantage of them to the point where First Nations/Native Americans were driven from their lands through wars and broken treaties. Imagine if they had the power to deport those who did that or the progeny of those who did that to them. Would that be fair?

When the vast majority of people leave their homelands, it is not done on a whim. It is done to survive. It is done out of fear. It is done out of hope for a better life. It should not matter whether they come with papers or undocumented because they come and enrich our culture and our country with their culture. The only reason people want to deport them is fear. Fear of the unknown that could easily be known if folks would simply step up and be welcoming to them. It’s amazing what a smile and a kind gesture can do to further understanding.

It is also ironic and depressing that many of those who wish to deport or demonize immigrants claim to be good Christians. They seem to forget that one of the most important commandments given in Christianity is to “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” There is no commandment to hate others. There is no commandment to fear others. There is no commandment to deport others. Love your neighbor. That means to love your fellow humankind regardless of his or her immigration status, religion, skin pigmentation, or any other label placed on other people.

So, what are the solutions?

First, for politicians from both parties to stand up against the administration and end these needless deportations. Then, for them to create a fast-track way for immigrants to remain in the U.S. and obtain citizenship more easily.

Next, and slightly less than legal, for churches and people who care to create a network not unlike the underground railroad to shelter and provide sanctuary for people who need it. These same people need to stand up and speak up for immigrants, legal and undocumented, to stop the deportations and assist immigrants, recalling that their ancestors were immigrants themselves.

A key to all of this is not seeing people as immigrants or undocumented immigrants, but as people just like we are. As such, we are to treat them as we would like to be treated.

The Problem of Walls and Weapons

The tragedy in Paris, as well as Kenya and Lebanon, should send reminders of the fragility of human life in our modern age. Instead, it is fostering a growth in a continued movement for nations to erect walls and allow more weapons to be used to separate and kill people who are not like “us”. Think about that for a moment and consider the following.

More weapons will not stop atrocities like the events in Paris, Kenya, or Lebanon from occurring. A common message sent out from certain aspects of society, particularly in the United States, tries to state that had there been more guns in the hands of the innocent people in Paris, then the atrocity would not have occurred. They state this somehow believing it as solid fact. However, one cannot know if that is true or not. While there might have been fewer people killed, there also could have been may more killed in a crossfire between those who committed the atrocity and those who were trying to defend themselves. In addition, it is alleged that those who committed this heinous act were also prepared to die at all cost, including the use of suicide bombs as what happened near the stadium. I doubt more firearms could have stopped the bombers from committing their horrendous acts.

Then there is the call for walls to be built, either literally or figuratively, to keep out immigrants and refugees because it is currently assumed that one or more of the terrorists carried passports from Syria, the homeland of the majority of those same refugees. While it is horrible that this may be the case, what about the thousands more who are not the aggressors, but the victims of the aggressors? There are thousands of people who are fleeing for their lives from the violence caused by ISIL/ISIS. The majority of them are simply trying to survive, not flee to the West to commit violent acts.

Besides, walls don’t work to keep people, good or bad, out. If someone wants to get around a wall, he or she will find a way to do so. Centuries ago, China built a wall to keep out aggressors. It was breached. Each day, hundreds of people cross the walls and boundaries of countries as they seek a better life. Some remain, and some are deported back to where they came.

But there are other walls that become built that are unseen. These are the walls that separate people in a more social sense than a physical one. One wall is prejudice and the other is fear. These two walls are ones that are sometimes insurmountable, not because of their size, but because of how people latch onto them with such fervor. These unseen walls cause us to place barriers between one another. Sometimes, these walls are in the form of words we use to label large groups of people as being bad based on the actions of a few people who look like the group or happen to worship using the same terms as that group does.

Right now, it happens to be Muslims who are being portrayed by media and certain elements of society as being nothing but bad people. They are called terrorists as a whole based on the actions of an extreme few of those who hide behind what is a peaceful religion. The vast majority of Muslims want nothing but to live in harmony within their communities as well as those places where they live among non-Muslims. The majority feels the need to pay for the sins of the few as they are pressured to speak out against acts of terror or be seen as supporting it. Yet, if people from a different religious background commit an atrocity, the innocent of those backgrounds are not pressured to speak out. If a Christian person commits an atrocity, there is no call for all Christians to speak out against it. If a Jewish person commits an atrocity, there is not call for all Jewish people to speak out against it. Only the Muslims. Yet, there are some who continue to say that if they don’t, then they are guilty of the supporting the crimes committed by the few.

The problem is not with religion, it is with people in general. The problem is not with needing more walls, but needing fewer ones.

That’s right, I said fewer walls to separate people. The walls of ignorance, fear, hate, oppression, poverty, war, and famine need to be torn down. In their place, we need to build one thing up above all else. We need to build up our fellow humankind. We need to end wars, and start spreading peace. We need to replace hate with love. We need to eradicate poverty and build plenty. We need to educate others so they may have what they need, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

A recent article I read was one where the interviewer had the rare opportunity to speak with ISIS prisoners of war in Iraq. The vast majority of those who were interviewed did not join ISIS for religious reasons, but for economic and emotional ones. They were starving and this terrorist organization promised them a way out. The terrorist organization gave them someone to blame for their problems, in this case, the West. While some of that is true since, while many of these people’s lives were bad under Saddam Hussein in Iraq, their lives became worse once he was deposed as civil war broke out in their country based on centuries old hatreds. Some joined out of fear that if they didn’t, then they and their families would die.

As I read the article, something occurred to me. The reason why many of these people joined was similar to why people join street gangs. Some fear that if they don’t, then they will die. Others do it as gang life promises them a sense of belonging and/or prosperity. Some join because they are so far in poverty that they need someone to blame and the gang tells them who to blame for their situation. This is not unlike those who voluntarily joined the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. It is not unlike those who joined the Ku Klux Klan in the post-Civil War South. It is not unlike those who join militia groups in modern society or other fringe, hate-filled groups. The majority of people who do so are looking for more in their life in some way and the gang persuades them that gang life is the way they can have or be more than who they are.

There needs to be an alternative to this lifestyle to make it stop. Rather than waging war in countries against people, there needs to be a fight for better living conditions. A fight for jobs. A fight for equality for all people regardless of who he or she is or what he or she believes. There needs to be education for all people to understand different cultures and religions as find common ground between them rather than what is different about them. Education is a powerful weapon against hate, fear, and violence. When humankind understands differences, then it becomes harder to fear or hate them. Instead, there becomes a natural instinct to try to see the similarities. But this only occurs with the chance to learn about our differences in a non-biased fashion. It comes with knowing who we are as individuals and facing our fears, prejudices, and ignorances, acknowledging them, and going beyond them to build understanding.

None of this means we have to like the way others are. It doesn’t mean we have to become like who others are. It does mean we must respect our differences and embrace our similarities. We must learn to love one another, whether we like them or not. For some people, this is seen as being too politically correct, as if that is a bad thing. However, it is actually being more humane to our fellow humankind.

Will this end all the problems instantly? No, there is no quick fix as many hope. It took time to build the walls, it will take time to tear them down as well. But it’s worth it.

The late Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” This rings so true for our world today. Peace can only come through light, never darkness. Hope can only thrive where all humankind sees one another as one rather than as many.

Borders and Boxes

Thousands of children from Central America are flooding the southern part of the United States on a daily basis at this time as they search for somewhere safe from the ravages of rampant crimes, particularly drug crimes, in their homelands. As is typical for some of those who live in the United States, the call for these children to be instantly deported is loud and sometimes violent.

Turning to another part of the globe, there are refugees fleeing from the unrest in Syria and other parts of the Middle East due to everything from government troops to the rising terrorist group ISIS. Refugees here are fleeing primarily to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, but a few are going to Germany and Sweden in their search for safety. In Europe, a few countries have closed their borders to the refugees, such as Bulgaria and Spain.

Add to this the recent rising of anti-immigrant conversations from the United Kingdom as they deal with a rising Middle Eastern population, and you have yet further division among the human race.

All of this has gotten me to ponder why we require borders in the first place. Secondly, and related to this, why is it that humans feel the need to place people in boxes that categorize and subdivide ourselves from one another rather than looking for those things that make us similar? All these borders and boxes serve no real purpose than to divide humanity even further. They do not serve to bring people together as should be the desire for the sake of the human race and the future of our planet.

John Lennon, the former Beatle, once sang the words, “Imagine there’s no countries/It isn’t hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion too/Imagine all the people/Living life in peace”(Imagine). I often wonder why we humans cannot strive for this as vehemently as we strive to create more weapons to destroy one another or even more boxes to subdivide ourselves from one another. There is no one thing that causes we humans to do this, of that I am certain, unless the underlying reason is fear.

That may be it. Perhaps we divide and subdivide ourselves so much because we fear having to learn about our fellow human being. As the American poet Robert Frost once wrote, “Good fences make good neighbors”(Mending Wall). Yet, if that poem is read, even it goes against the idea of borders and boxes as it states, “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know/What I was walling in or walling out/And to whom I was like to give offence” (Mending Wall). A wall would make sense if there was a good reason for it. If there were, as the poet says, cows to roam and the wall used to keep them in check. Perhaps we humans have no reason for the wall other than to repeat as the neighbor does by simply saying, “Good fences make good neighbors”(Mending Wall). We do not know why it’s there, but that it’s always been there, so it must stay there.

Some argue that the borders we have are there due to the result of military action and the truce documents saying they are located between certain coordinates. If they are there only to mark the areas where one side may venture due to a disagreement, are they not like when two children or roommates share a room and one lays down a line saying that everything on one side is theirs alone and the items on another belong only to the other person? Sounds rather childish if this is the case, doesn’t it? Rather than talk out our disagreements, we fight until we feel there are enough people dead (or, heaven forbid, the other side is annihilated), then create an invisible line to ward off the other side (again, provided anyone is left on the other side). Seems like a great waste of human potential and the opportunity to work together to create harmony rather than discord.

Others argue that these borders and boxes are needed to delineate easier governance of the people. I guess I would argue that perhaps sharing governance of ourselves might be best. Why not set basic laws for all humankind to ensure all are treated with respect and dignity? Basic ones like not killing one another, sheltering the homeless, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, reaching out to help our fellow human being when they need it, and respecting each person’s faith journey or even right not to have a set faith, but just choosing to live and let live. Yes, it makes it easier to set laws specific for a given country or state or region because no one has to talk with anyone else other than those who are set to govern that particular place. The United States does not ask Canada for permission to create a law and the opposite does not happen either. Would it not be worth it to have people talk to come up with what is good for all humanity rather than set up borders and boxes?

I can almost hear the calls of people shouting that I’m a Communist and should be watched or put away. I can even hear those questioning my sanity. Yet, maybe this was what the Christian scriptures refer to when the comment is made by Paul when he stated, “There is no longer Jew nor Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”(Galatians 3:28 NRSV). If one would prefer to hear what is attributed to Jesus, then look at the passage from John 14:2,
In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”(John 14:2 RSV). Given I am quoting Christian scripture; it places me not so much with Communism, but certainly within Socialism.

Who cares? It is just a box. A human formed opinion to label me in some convenient way. Does it matter? Not really, except for the person placing me in that box and others who may agree with him or her.

Divisions and subdivisions happening at a rapid rate,
Always building walls and gates.
Keeping someone out or in.
To me, it seems like such a sin
Against humanity.

Back to my opening images, though. For the thousands of children who survived the perilous journey to the United States in hope that the words on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor,/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore./Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,/I life my lamp beside the golden door”(New Colossus by Emma Lazarus), are still true; my question remains is it true? It was for our forebears, but will it be for you?

For those fleeing tyranny in hope of safety, will they find it?

For those who are caught between the rockets of Israel and Hamas, will they ever know peace?

When will we, as human beings inhabiting the 3rd planet from the Sun, spend more time trying to erasing borders and knocking down boxes instead of trying to create or build more?

One can only hope it is soon.

References:
Galatians 3:28– http://biblia.com/books/nrsv/Ga3.28
Gospel According to St. John 14:2– http://www.biblestudytools.com/john/14-2-compare.html
“Imagine”– http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/johnlennon/imagine.html
“Mending Wall”– http://writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/frost-mending.html
“New Colossus”– http://www.libertystatepark.com/emma.htm

The Tea Party Platform and What’s Wrong with it

Tea Party Platform (And what’s wrong with it)

This is the Tea Party Platform per their website of http://www.teaparty.org

  1. Illegal aliens are here illegally
  2. Pro-domestic employment is indispensible
  3. A strong military is essential
  4. Special interests must be eliminated
  5. Gun ownership is sacred
  6. Government must be downsized
  7. The national budget must be balanced
  8. Deficit spending must end
  9. Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal
  10. Reducing personal income taxes is a must
  11. Reducing business income taxes is mandatory
  12. Political offices must be available to average citizens
  13. Intrusive government must be stopped
  14. English as our core language is required
  15. Traditional family values are encouraged (teaparty.org)

 

 

The above list of the essential and non-negotiable beliefs of the Tea Party was taken from their website, teaparty.org. It is an interesting list of what, on the surface, are the ideals of this movement that has taken America hostage at times in order to force them upon us. In some cases, they read like the platform of the Libertarian Party. At others, they read like the ranting of people who misunderstand the history of our country or even of how the US government works. I will attempt to point out how these ideals are either not being implemented or even truly wanted, cannot be implemented, or are just plain silly in the first place.

First, “Illegal aliens are here illegally.” A redundant sentence begins the list. That in itself should lead a person to see that this movement wishes to prey on the uneducated. My first thought was simply, no shit. If someone comes into a country illegally, obviously, he or she is an illegal alien. There is no debate in the verity of that sentence. However, another comment should be, so what? Our nation was founded by immigrants, from the Native Americans/First Nations who immigrated over the Bering land bridge to the waves of immigration from Europe and other parts of the world to the New World in hope of wealth and prosperity. I seriously doubt that the Native Americans/First Nations wanted the first White settlers to come here, especially after those settlers started to drive them out of their native lands and certainly, after they drove them onto reservations in the hope of slowly eradicating their entire race.

It also does not establish what they want to do about it. If people are coming here illegally, then why not establish a way for those who are otherwise law abiding people to become citizens legally? Many illegal immigrants come here to work because they cannot find jobs in their own country. Many illegal immigrants take jobs that most Americans do not want or are too lazy to perform, such as in the agricultural industry. Rather than simply exercise prejudice against them, why not give them an opportunity to become citizens or at least obtain legal status in the US? If they become citizens or legalized aliens, then they can contribute to our taxes. They can also have rights as workers and citizens. They can vote. They may be able to actually live their life without worrying about deportation and causing misery to their families, including those children they have who were born in the US and are, therefore, citizens of the US. We are a nation of immigrants, so why not welcome others as well?

Next, “Pro-domestic employment is indispensible.” No one can deny this is a great idea. We as a country should create jobs for those within the United States. However, wait, corporations are moving jobs from the United States in search of cheap labour in order to keep prices down or, more sinisterly, allow the corporate executives to pocket more income than most of their employees will see in a lifetime. If the Tea Party is serious about this one, then why have not they advocated taxing companies who move their work outside of the United States more in order to force them to move the jobs back to the United States? Oh, wait. That would be in violation of their 11th principle of “Reducing business income taxes is mandatory.” It cannot be both ways. If US corporations are moving their jobs to foreign countries without penalty as they search for cheaper labour, then what incentive do they have in keeping jobs here? The Tea Party says nothing about how to do this. In fact, most of the wealthy supporters of the Tea Party have no problem with US corporations moving jobs overseas because there are less stringent labour laws, pretty much no unions, and they can pay the workers there subsistent wages all the while as their corporate executives make scads of money that they can then hide in foreign bank accounts so they can avoid paying taxes that run our economy.

Their third point is “A strong military is essential.” To a point, this is true. Having a strong military works as a deterrent to keep those wanting to harm our country at bay. Yet, it did not stop the attacks of September 11, 2001. It does not stop domestic terrorism such as the incident involving Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. A strong military cannot work without cooperation between nations. In some cases, it acts as an enticement to encourage those who wish to harm us to see if they can accomplish their evil plans in spite of our massive military complex. We need a strong and nimble military as our enemies are not the armies of countries, but smaller guerilla units who do not fight using conventional warfare tactics. Good intelligence between nations working together to keep an eye on the threats that destabilize countries is what is needed in conjunction with having a strong military. This point is not so much false as it is only part of what is needed.

Point number four, “Special interests must be eliminated.” This actually is the first thing mentioned that makes sense. Yet, it only makes sense if it is implemented across the board and not just for those who agree with other points of the Tea Party message. However, in reality, those wealthy Tea Party sponsors, especially the Koch Brothers, are a special interest. Have not seen Tea Party loyalists wanting their influence eliminated. Another problem with this is a little ruling from the United States Supreme Court that is supported by many in the Tea Party called Citizens United. This ruling allowed that corporations can be considered individuals and are therefore treated as individuals when it comes to financing campaigns of politicians. If the Tea Party is serious about this non-negotiable tenet of their platform, then they need to come out against Citizens United and jump on the bandwagon to repeal the ruling. They should also be heavily in favor of limiting campaign contributions to politicians by anyone as the more donated by any one person could be considered trying to establish a special interest group to influence that politician unduly against the needs of the community as a whole for which he or she is elected to represent.

The fifth point, “Gun ownership is sacred,” is troubling for a number of reasons. The use of the word sacred makes it seem as if guns are to be worshipped as a deity. After all, the word sacred as defined by Merriam-Webster means the following:

1 a: dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity <a tree sacred to the gods>

b: devoted exclusively to one service or use (as of a person or purpose) <a fund sacred to charity>

2 a: worthy of religious veneration: Holy

b: entitled to reverence and respect

3: of or relating to religion: not secular or profane <sacred music>

4: archaic: accursed

5 a: unassailable, inviolable

b: highly valued and important <a sacred responsibility>

Origin of SACRED

Middle English, from past participle of sacren to consecrate, from Anglo-French sacrer, from Latin sacrere, from sacr-, sacer sacred; akin to Latin sancire to make sacred, Hittite šaklāi– rite

By definition, then, the Tea Party believes that guns are to be worshipped. Somehow, I do not think our Founders wished for firearms to be considered a deity when they created the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Viewing firearms as a deity is akin to prehistoric people seeing fire as a deity. Look, I have the power to kill you without touching you with metal projectiles from my fire stick. It is G-d. Seriously?!?

Guns are not sacred; they are a right given loosely to private owners in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. As such, they should be regulated in order to keep the citizenry as whole protected from those individuals in society who would use them to terrorize or harm others. As this is not writing about the gun control, I will not delve further into the subject. However, guns are not sacred objects and this point is, to use a phrase from my students, messed up.

Sixth point of the Tea Party is that “Government must be downsized.” Okay. This is not such a bad idea overall. After all, most people are frustrated by the amount of paperwork needed for many things having to do with our government. Yet, when looking at how our government is set up as a representational government, trying to decrease the size of the government, yet still be able to function as a representational government is daunting. They fail to mention in what way, aside from Libertarian austerity, that they wish to downsize the government. This point needs more specifics. If it means deregulation and allowing industry to police themselves, then that is not such a good idea as it would be like investing in weasels to protect a henhouse. Regulations are needed to protect the interests of the citizenry of our country from pollution and other things that can harm us if left unfettered and to the corporation’s financial goals. See the issues with our food industry for one set of examples. See the factory pollution issues in West Virginia and other places as another.

The seventh point of the Tea Party platform is “The national budget must be balanced.” This is a great idea in theory. After all, it works in the household when balancing our checkbooks. Never spend more than you have and save a little for when it is needed. However, you cannot run a country like that. There are issues that arise, natural disasters, man-made disasters and the like that happen and money is needed to fix them. Add to this that we have neglected our infrastructure to the point where our roads and bridges are unsafe and in need of repair. In addition, this cannot occur if their additional ideals of “Reducing personal income taxes are a must” and “Reducing business income taxes is mandatory” and “A strong military is essential” are to be realistically met. Unless, of course, they are willing to tell the military, for instance, that they can only have a certain dollar amount of ammunition to use in a year and once it’s gone, then no more shooting. Or maybe simply telling the victims of natural disasters to simply deal with it and hope for the best in order to survive and rebuild. Our economy is much larger than a personal bank account. There are too many things to pay for even without a large government. Besides, are they also willing to force a reduction in pay on their elected officials who are getting a salary to do a job, plus funds from speaking engagements? Perhaps this is possible in the unlikely event that a law can be passed that requires elected officials to refund the government any income they receive that is over their legal salary for the office they hold. In addition, they can no longer receive free mail, office space, and they have to buy their insurance like everyone else rather than have a set plan paid for my taxpayers.

Next Tea Party platform point is that “Deficit spending must end.” Great idea, but see the previous point. This would work great if we were still on the gold standard. In theory, it makes sense, but in reality, it does not work. Our government throughout history often runs through deficit spending. The last time there was not a huge deficit was under the Clinton Administration. However, along came two wars that had no financial backing to them and what surplus there was is long gone. You cannot erase a deficit without tax dollars as that is where the government gets its income. Again, this point goes against the other two points of the Tea Party platform of “Reducing personal income taxes is a must” and “Reducing business income taxes is mandatory.” Tax revenues are needed to reduce the deficit and pay for even the most minor government spending.

While we are there, might as well touch on these two tenets of the Tea Party. Their 10th and 11th ideals are “Reducing personal income taxes is a must” and “Reducing business income taxes is mandatory.” None of us like to pay taxes. We would all like to keep as much of our income as possible. After all, we work hard for our money. However, in order for us to live with good roads, schools, fire and police protection, a strong military, and even the basics that our government provides, then we have to pay taxes.

Unless, of course, the Tea Party wishes to have these things paid for by each person paying a toll or a bill sent to them for their share of these things as they use them. Yet, if for instance, in order to maintain the roads, people using those roads needed to pay tolls as they drive those roads, then government would need to expand in order to hire people to collect those tolls as well as collect the tolls from those who try to get away with not paying those tolls. There goes the shrinking of government they so much want. In addition, what if people cannot afford to pay the tolls? Are they then banned from using the roads? If so, how will they work? Oh, they can walk. However, in order to maintain the sidewalks, there is a toll because otherwise there is no revenue to pay for the maintenance of the sidewalks. The list can continue ad nauseum. While my examples seem absurd, this is the ultimate in the Randian/Libertarian/Tea Party world. Pay as you go and if you cannot pay, then tough shit on you.

Another fault in this is if you notice the wording of these two tenets. The words ‘must’ and ‘mandatory’ are what I’m focusing on here. Personal income taxation being reduced is only a must for the Tea Party, but when it comes to business income taxes, it’s mandatory. This is a tenet of the failed trickle down politics from the Reagan era. Businesses do not create jobs when they pay less in taxes. Instead, many of them simply keep the money and they keep it at the top of their hierarchy rather than the worker. Better than this would be to keep a more strict accounting of how tax dollars are spent and make taxation such that those who make more pay more as they are able to pay more and usually have more tax breaks than those who earn less. This would lead, in turn, to personal income taxes decreasing since the wealthy and corporations would pay more and the worker could keep more to use to invest as well as spend which would boost the economy.

The next Tea Party tenet is that “Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal.” First, the irony of this is huge. After all, I doubt the Tea Party backers would agree that the plans their poster child president Bush laid to bailout the banks and his attempt to stimulate the economy through giving everyone money in hopes they would go out and spend it was wrong. If so, why were they not yelling a screaming for him not to do this? Why didn’t the Koch Brothers tell their paid for politicians to block these efforts? Heck, why didn’t the economists and even the average person on the street demand where our government would get the money to do these things? The reasons are probably more numerous than can be imagined, but it all comes down to a human desire to get something for nothing. There is no way in heck that anyone with an ounce of sense could not realize that simply giving money away, especially money that was not there, is a good idea. Rather than bailing out the banks for their schemes and risky investing practices, then those responsible should have been held accountable and gone to jail for their actions. As far as the bailout of the Big 3 automobile manufacturers goes, it was needed in order to protect our nation’s economy. Yes, there were things done by the UAW and the management of the Big 3 that are reprehensible, such as UAW member’s children getting free college and such as benefits for their working. However, if the Big 3 were allowed to go bankrupt, then not only would the automakers and those working for them have suffered, but also that little subcontractor who makes widgets for the automakers, and so on. It would have had potentially damaging effects on people throughout the country.

What should have occurred is that, in order to receive a bailout, then those receiving it should have been held to stricter rules to not only repay the bailout, but also to make certain the situation causing it does not occur again.

I love the next one, that “Political offices must be available to average citizens.” I agree with this, yet realistically this is already the case. Anyone can run for political office if he or she wants as long as he or she meet the requirements for the office for which they seek. However, the cost to file a petition to run for office is sometimes beyond the financial means for them to do so. Add to this the cost of running a campaign. Yes, a recent person won against a more heavily funded candidate for office. However, how much did he spend? Estimates are that he spent about $200,000 to defeat the incumbent against the $5 million spent by the incumbent. However, this amount of money is not something the average citizen can afford to raise. Many claim rightfully that the reason for the defeat came from the money spent by special interests to make certain their candidate would win. (There’s that pesky special interest thing that the Tea Party claims should not occur, but yet uses to campaign with again).

If the average citizen wants to have a chance at being elected, then there needs to be real campaign reform. There should be a set amount that every candidate can spend on a campaign that comes from a non-partisan fund used for finance campaigns. In addition, no outside special interest should be allowed to run advertisements that support or attack any candidate for office. Free time should be made for all candidates by the media regardless of medium used. That would even the playing field to the candidate and their stance on issues rather than how much they can afford to spend or how much those who want them elected can spend to get them elected. Any Tea Party backers for this idea? I doubt it.

Their next tenet is not clearly defined. They say “Intrusive government must be stopped.” Yet, that tenet goes against their final two of “English as our core language is required” and “Traditional family values are encouraged” as well as that many Tea Party members are also anti-LGBTQ and other issues that are rather personal in nature. For instance, a recent Pew survey found “that 64 percent of Tea Parties want abortion to be illegal” and “69 percent of Republicans who identified with the Tea Party opposed same-sex marriage” (http://www.salon.com/2013/10/21/10_reasons_the_tea_party_is_wildly_unpopular_partner/). If they want the government to be less intrusive, then why would they want to back issues that are very intrusive into the lives of people? Less intrusive would be to allow people to live their lives, especially their personal lives, without government interference unless the things being done are detrimental to society as a whole. Would it not?

The next to last tenet is that “English as our core language is required.” While it is convenient that everyone in America should know English, why should it be required? And, if it is going to be required, then how should it be implemented that people be encouraged and even instructed in the English language so that they can comply? As far as that goes, requiring a language would necessitate that those already here be able to use it properly as well.  As a former English teacher, I can attest that even native speakers of English fail to do this and, thus would be in violation of this tenet should it become law. Additionally, what form of English should be required? Colloquial American English? Academic American English? Slang American English? Who determines the form of American English to be used? Will it be a set standard where certain regional uses of language be nullified in favor of a set standard of American English?

Do they not realize that even the use of English as the language of America was by chance? It was not the first choice of the Founders as many wanted to sever ties with England entirely. Among the languages first considered for America were the following: Hebrew, French, and Greek. We have become a nation where people came here speaking many languages and survived with this occurring. We are also one of the few nations of the world where the learning of other languages is not an academic requirement. American English is a language that has borrowed from many of these languages. In fact, it can be argued that American English would not exist without contributions made to our distinct form of English by other languages. I think that rather than require English, we need to encourage people to learn it and even find ways to help non-native speakers (and native speakers) learn it well.

The final tenet of the Tea Party is that “Traditional family values are encouraged.” The problem with this is that every family has differing values. Some value community service. Others value wealth. Some value athleticism, while others value academics. Who gets to define what “traditional family values” are? This phrase is vague at best and can even be sinister at its worse if a set of values is forced upon people. They should just be more honest about it as they wish to promote White, Anglo-Saxon, and Conservative Christian values. However, those are not the “traditional family values” of everyone who lives in the United States and they should not be since our country is a melting pot of many beliefs, values, and cultures that serve to enrich our nation.

The tenets of the Tea Party movement are a set of ideals put forth by those who are afraid of change and/or are simply undereducated. They are reminiscent of some of the ideals of the Confederates leading up to and during the Civil War. They are impossible to realistically implement and some are even just plain scary to think of being implemented in a rational and civilized society. Yes, my essay had only but touched the overall reasons why these ideas are either not being implemented or even truly wanted, cannot be implemented, or are just plain silly in the first place.