We Fight A Culture of Dependence

For those that Twitter, the tweets from those criticizing the Brazos Valley Win in 2010 Tea Party last April 15th thought it ironic that we held our event in a city park.

@LeftofAggieland tweeted: Found it ironic that the @BCSTeaParty held their protest of taxes and government spending at a local public park.

How federal government overreach and a local public park are ironic is inexplicable, other than Tea Party folks are now deemed “lesser citizens” and not able to rent a park at their own expense. That the protesters of the past would gather in parks without permits is a forgotten recent history.

However, it is not simply taxes that has the Tea Party crowds vexed; it is the massive expansion of government agencies populated with unelected individuals bearing the authority of government and ability to operate outside of our Constitution. These individual bureaucrats have the ability to write legislation that seeks to deny the American citizen of his God given rights as protected by our Constitution.

That these bureaucrats have the ability to write legislation, a duty directed by the Constitution to begin in the House of Representatives and eventually voted upon in House and Senate, is a variance or rules not deemed relevant by Tea Party detractors. That this new acquisition of power is intent upon nullifying our Constitution is of no consequence. However, a nation without protected freedom is a nation controlled by and dependent upon the whims of faceless bureaucrats manning desks across the nation.

Clearly, this is the reason we gather across the nation in protest of these activities of government over reach. We gather because government intrusion violates our principles of morality. Government overreach is intent upon legalizing that which has been accepted throughout history as immoral. The demonizing of success while succoring ideas of privilege and covetousness are at work to replace the American work ethic and gift of transcendent laws, commandments, and rights.

Michael Barone explains it well in this article posted at Real Clear Politics:

April 19, 2010

Tea Partiers Fight Culture of Dependence

By Michael Barone

“Do you realize,” CNN’s Susan Roesgen asked a man at the April 15, 2009, tea party in Chicago, “that you’re eligible for a $400 credit?” When the man refused to drop his “drop socialism” sign, she went on, “Did you know that the state of Lincoln gets 50 billion out of the stimulus?”

Roesgen is no longer with CNN, and CNN has only about half as many viewers as it did last year. But her questions are revealing. They help us understand that the issue on which our politics has become centered — the Obama Democrats’ vast expansion of the size and scope of government — is really not just about economics. It is really a battle about culture, a battle between the culture of dependence and the culture of independence.

Probably unknowingly, Roesgen was reflecting the mid-century sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld’s dictum that politics is about who gets how much when. If some guy is getting $400, shouldn’t he just shut up and collect the money? Shouldn’t he be happy that his state government, headed recently by Rod Blagojevich, was getting an extra $50 billion?

But public policy also helps determine the kind of society we are. The Obama Democrats see a society in which ordinary people cannot fend for themselves, where they need to have their incomes supplemented, their health care insurance regulated and guaranteed, their relationships with their employers governed by union leaders. Highly educated mandarins can make better decisions for them than they can make themselves. That is the culture of dependence.

The tea partiers see things differently. They’re not looking for lower taxes — half of tea party supporters, a New York Times survey found, think their taxes are fair. Nor are they financially secure — half say someone in their household may lose their job in the next year. Two-thirds say the recession has caused some hardship in their lives.

But they recognize, correctly, that the Obama Democrats are trying to permanently enlarge government and increase citizens’ dependence on it. And, invoking the language of the Founding Fathers, they believe that this will destroy the culture of independence which has enabled Americans over the past two centuries to make this the most productive and prosperous — and the most charitably generous — nation in the world.

Seeing our political divisions as a battle between the culture of dependence and the culture of independence helps to make sense of the divisions seen in the 2008 election. Barack Obama carried voters with incomes under $50,000 and those with incomes over $200,000, and lost those with incomes in between. He won large margins from those who never graduated from high school and from those with graduate school degrees, and barely exceeded 50 percent among those in between.

The top-and-bottom Obama coalition was in effect a coalition of those dependent on government transfers and benefits and those in what David Brooks calls “the educated class,” who administer or believe that their kind of people administer those transactions. They are the natural constituency for the culture of dependence.

Interestingly, in the Massachusetts special Senate election, the purported beneficiaries of the culture of dependence — low-income and low-education voters — did not turn out in large numbers. In contrast, the administrators of that culture — affluent secular professionals, public employees, university personnel — were the one group that turned out in force and voted for the hapless Democratic candidate.

The in-between people on the income and education ladders, it turns out, are a constituency for the culture of independence. Smart conservatives like David Frum, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam argued in 2009 books that modest-income conservative voters have had stagnant incomes over the last decade and that Republicans should offer them compensatory tax breaks.

That seemed to make sense in the wake of the 2008 election. But it’s been undercut by developments since. As Susan Roesgen discovered, tea party supporters are not in the mood to be bought off with $400 tax credits. They have a longer time horizon and can see where the Obama Democrats are trying to take us.

Paul Lazarsfeld saw politics as just a matter of dollars and cents. The tea party movement reminds us of what the Founders taught — that it has a moral dimension, as well. They risked all in the cause of the culture of independence. The polling evidence suggests that most Americans don’t want to leave that behind.


  1. David C. Nelson says:

    I share Teddy Wilson’s angst at the contradictions in the Tea Party movement. You did indeed protest government taxation and spending in a public park, paid for and maintained by our tax dollars. It seems to me that if you were true to your values, you’d have staged your meeting on private property.

    How many Tea Party attendees decry government largess while standing in steadfast defense of their Medicare and Social Security entitlements? I recall a recent visit to the doctor’s office where every other patient in the waiting room was of Medicare age. They were availing themselves of the only system that would insure senior citizens. Heaven help them if they had to depend on the private insurance market. Their premiums, based on their actuarial risk, would have been prohibitive.

    Yet, they conducted a robust discussion that decried President Obama’s “socialistic” approach to government. What to you call Medicare and Medicaid other than socialized medicine?

    I also find Tea Party attendees particularly selective about what kind of government spending they condemn. If it’s for a social program, they’re against it. If it’s for the military, there’s hardly a voice raised in objection. How much do we spend annually to prop up the government of Iraq? Of Afghanistan, which just about everyone agrees reelected its leader in a fraudulent election? Of Israel, without which the Muslim world would have many fewer bones to pick with us?

    How many of you Tea Party people raised an objection to Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ (R-Ga) plea to build an additional 100 F-28 fighters, hull numbers 400 through 500, an airframe that has seen no action in Iraq and Afghanistan, and which was designed to thwart a Soviet Air Force that is a mere shell of itself under the Russian government? Yet, you cheered Chambliss and his fellow Republicans when they tried everything they could do to thwart universal health care to Americans.

    Why is national offense so much more important than national health care. Is it because you’ve already got yours in health care, and just don’t want to spend any more of your tax dollars to help you fellow Americans who don’t?

  2. If you were at the Health Care Town Hall with Chet Edwards you would have seen Edwards’ confidence shaken when a great group of hands were raised to Chet’s rhetorical question as to who would want to end Social Security and Medicare. I supported President Bush’s plan to gradually end social security by allowing young people to invest part of their money in a privately owned (that’s you) account. Ditto, the idea of Health Savings accounts that would eventually phase out Medicare. Why would our government officials not want our young people to gradually phase out of government control of their retirement?

    Because it’s not about retirement, it’s about control. Freedom and control will always be in opposition. Why would you advocate someone controlling your life rather than demanding freedom? What has government ever done to recommend their determination of your life would be better than yourself?

    How has the government convinced you that you are inadequate to knowing your own mind? Or have they fostered the sentiment that it’s those ‘other’ people who are too stupid to choose for themselves? If so, the government is simply using your own elitist thoughts about others to enslave you and those other idiot buffoons. You really showed them!! ha!

    Both of those plans to gradually move back toward individual freedom were demagogued by Democrats who scared seniors by saying we wanted to cut their Social Security and Health Care. Nothing was further from the truth, but that’s how demagogues work.

    National Defense is one of the few duties of our government under our Constitution. Health care is not. Socialized Health Care treats the work of an individual as a commodity deserved by others. This is the classic definition of slavery. The Democrat Party of the slave south, believed they were entitled to the work of another human, in order to support their lifestyle. Ditto with socialized heath care advocates. They believe they are entitled to the work of another human, in order to support their lifestyle.

    The Tea Party Movement is about reminding citizens of the uniqueness of the founding of our nation and our Founding Documents. Socialism is not only the reversal of our founding, but rather than the bringer of prosperity, always bring dearth and want.

    Freedom of opportunity has created the fastest growing civilization with highest level of prosperity. Why would we discontinue that path, in order to pursue a path that always leads to a poorer civilization marked by the deterioration of the middle class?

    What you are advocating is a State Religion where the members of the government are never held accountable for breaking the law, and are viewed as benevolent not because of donating their own money to charity, but rather showing their piety by taking other people’s money in the name of charity. The Tea Party Movement sees this abuse of power the same as any TV huckster preacher. Neither are godly and both are examples of the worst of human nature.

    I spend my own money to help those less fortunate. That is the true meaning of sacrifice.

    I’m glad you visited our site and I hope that you return. I would think freedom and liberty would be the cause of any young person. That is my purpose in organizing the B/CS Tea Party – that you and my young nieces and nephews can live in American Freedom and Liberty.

  3. David C. Nelson says:

    Thank you for replying to my comment and inviting me back.

    I suppose we have a different definition of freedom. Franklin D. Roosevelt often spoke of the “four freedoms.” The fourth of those as “freedom from fear.”

    That’s where I see a place for national health care and why I support our new law. I don’t want to be afraid that, if I lose my job through no faulty of my own, my family will be without health insurance. If I get a new job the next day, even one that offers policies underwritten by the same company that insured me previously, I may be found to have ‘preexisting condition.’ one for which my previous job’s insurance covered the bills but the new job won’t.

    Of course, if I had my way, we’d have European-style single-payer health insurance. The free people of Canada and western Europe pay 10% of their GDP for health care that covers 100% of the population. Before the new, we in America paid 16% of our GDP for a market-based system that left out 46 million, all but about six million of those being American citizens and legal residents.

    The free market is a great provider of quality health care, if you can afford it or you have a great job. It’s a lousy provider if you don’t. Tea Party people, in my opinion, want to be “free” to use their money (or great company insurance) to jump the line ahead of others who don’t have the bucks. It’s that simple.

    As for Social Security, the last thing I’d do is put the social safety net in the capable hands of Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and other Wall Street crooks. If people are living longer these days, raise the retirement age until the program’s assets meet it liabilities. Don’t stop taxing high income earners once they reach $106,000 per year. Tax their entire income. Social Security is easy to save without giving it to the Wall Street wolves.

    As for your citation of the constitutional requirement for national defense, I suppose I disagree when it comes to optional wars. I call them national offense. There was no need to invade Iraq, kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and more than 4,000 young Americans, and enrich the defense contractors in the process. There were no WMDs and no tie between Saddam and Osama. President Bush and Vice-President Cheney lied to us. The got the “bad intelligence” they so desperately sought.

    I disagree with spending billions to fund the F-22 program, designed to fight the Soviet Air Force of a bygone era, and which has never flown a mission in Iraq or Afghanistan. I oppose continuing defense projects that the military doesn’t want, just because a powerful congressman has a weapons factory in his district.

    Although I agreed with going into Afghanistan to catch those who were responsible for the 9/11 attacks, at which we failed at Tora Bora, I disagree with just about everything we’ve done since–to include propping up a corrupt president whose relatives are making a mint in the opium business. At least the Taliban burned the poppy fields. Now, thanks to America’s involvement, Afghanistan again leads the world in opium production.

    Where is the Tea Party protest against all the tax money going to prop up Karzai?

    One small grammatical correction: It’s the Democratic Party, with an -ic on the end, not the Democrat party. I am a Democrat, a noun, but when the world is used as an adjective, you add the suffix. Do you often speak of the Republic Party (without the -an on the end)? I bet you don’t.

    By the way, the Democratic Party changed quite a bit in the 1960s. And that’s why Texans are so overwhelmingly Republican these days. They stuck with the Democrats, through the era of Jim Crow, until that party became the champion of civil rights. As Lyndon Johnson told Bill Moyers on the day he signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act, “I’ve just signed the South over to the Republican Party for the next two generations.”

    Southern whites are Republicans these days exactly because the Democratic Party is no longer the party of slavery or Jim Crow. Southern whites fought like hell to keep black people from eating at public lunch counters, going to adequate schools, or riding in the front of the bus. They became Republicans when Richard Nixon used a coded “law and order” strategy to capture the South in the 1968 presidential election. We know which kind of law breaking he was talking about. He wasn’t referring to what was happening on Wall Street.

    So, I’m a bit skeptical of the Tea Party’s call for freedom. Did it oppose the Patriot Act, especially National Security Letters that threatened my librarian with prison if she told me the feds wanted to know what books I’ve been checking out? Did it oppose “extraordinary renditions,” the kidnapping of foreign nationals and the shipping of them to Syria and Egypt for torture? Did it oppose Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, and the torture and sexual humiliation that went on there?

    When I read about how much the Tea Party values freedom, I think: “They want to be free to not pay their taxes!” I believe that’s the real freedom Tea Party seeks. Otherwise, give the big investment bankers all the freedom they want to package and sell toxic securities. Give private defense contractors, including Blackwater Security, all the freedom they want to spend our tax money shooting up innocent Iraqi civilians.

    Honestly, don’t you think the Tea Party is a bit selective about what it takes issue with?

    • David,
      I am so glad you came back. You bring up a lot of issues but the solution from my point of view is very simple which makes it simpler to determine what is good for free civil society and what is bad for free civil society. This viewpoint sees people as individuals not as members of a group. This viewpoint sees the behavior of individuals as either promoting free civil society or as detrimental to free civil society.

      Therefore, an individual who works as a Wall Street executive can be an ethical man, a law abiding citizen, a terrific husband, father, and caring son that is an asset to freedom and the preservation of civil society or an individual who also works as a Wall Street executive that cheats his clients, evades his taxes, beats his wife and children, and drives without a license because of a DUI. One man is beneficial to all he comes into contact with, while the other needs to be punished to the full extent of the law. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed, I judge a man not by the color of his skin, his job description, the friends he has, the family he comes from, but rather by the content of his character. This is the meaning of individual responsibility.

      When we apply benevolence to a faceless group, a bureaucracy or malevolence to other groups, we are not viewing people as individuals. This is a grave error in regards to human nature. Our nature is that we all want to steal, covet, murder – if only in our hearts – and be general lawbreakers. Our nature is such that the moment we see a rule or a law, we start looking for a way to get around it. The reality of human nature is so set that this is the reason why so many evangelicals are conservatives – because our understanding of human nature overlaps. This is why I don’t want the faceless ‘government’ in charge of anything requiring compassion and passion. To think we will get the best care available from government healthcare is to deny human nature.

      The best way to establish civil society is to keep laws simple and clear so that lawbreaking is perceived immediately and punished quickly and severely. Not because I am not compassionate, but because speedy punishment – justice – is a great soother to the community. Injustice – or when criminal behavior is not punished – keeps a community in constant turmoil. Liberty means ownership of personal property and the ability to enjoy that property without limits from others.

      Under our Constitution we have agreed as to how best to preserve a free civil society, but our legislators are not following our Constitution. They are just operating wily-nily excusing rule breaking. Such behavior doesn’t help preserve a marriage, or a family, much less a nation of millions. This is the point of the people of Arizona, who live in fear to leave their homes because they will come home to find their home taken over by armed illegals now squatting in their homes. They are being murdered in their own yards! This is what happens anytime rules are abandoned. This is what is destroying our schools where teachers are either having sex with their students or are being intimidated by unruly students who are never punished. This is the behavior of man’s base human nature.

      The same is true with employees that cannot be fired for bad work. The more power these employees have to not be corrected, the worse their work ethic. Therefore, in regards to human nature, it is best to keep each man responsible for his own work ethic by rewarding him for his best work. The better I serve others, the more I am rewarded. If that balance scale is influenced by outside forces, the employee is either a slovenly worker, or unhappy in being passed over for reward for exemplary work.

      This is the nature of man. There is no such thing as an equal opportunity; there is only freedom of opportunity. The fact that there are a myriad of laws to ‘enforce’ equal opportunity only indicates the lie and that we are all guilty of breaking that law, it only depends on which side of the bureaucratic desk we find ourselves. FREEDOM of opportunity is the bedrock foundation of this nation, but yet see how far we have allowed little rules and regulations bend, flake, shape, and bake our minds into the ideal’s opposite?

      Therefore, I do not ascribe peace and love to a faceless bureaucracy because it is the character of individuals that concerns me. I want my doctor to be rewarded for being the best he can be matched with my ability to pay. The rich will always have the most choices…even in the most corrupt, prison state. Therefore, it is prudent of me to use my talents and gifts to the best of my ability so that I might be well rewarded for my work, so I have more choices. Therefore, when I taught remedial reading it was paramount to me that my students learn to read to the best of their ability. The best thing to do for a poor family is to really educate their children to the best of their ability, not bend the rules of discipline because they are poor. The best thing to do for the gifted student is to teach them to revere their abilities and to have compassion for those less able. Such concepts used to be taught routinely in schools under civic virtue and citizenship. That such subjects have been abandoned and now our schools are in turmoil should be linked together by any thinking person.

      The Democrat Party (democrat – one that supports democracy – group/mob rule) views individuals as groups. Their power comes from pitting one group against another. Sometimes a group is bad, then sometimes they are good. For instance the Obama BailOut was for Wall Street companies that were so important to America, they were too big to fail. Now, Wall Street companies are bad, because they earn lots of money. Following the pitting of groups against each other is like following a soap opera or wrestling – sometimes the character is really bad, then sometimes they appear to be doing good, then they are back to ruthless behavior.

      I for one am sick of it. I am weary of a culture that is so controlled by what other people tell them to think about this group or that group, I’m done with it all. I want to see people as individuals.They are either good people or they are bad people and I discern this by looking at their actions. I want to live by our Constitution that rewards people for doing good and obeying the law, and punishes people for breaking the law and doing evil things.

      I am a republican (little R) – meaning I support the republican system of government which believes some ideas are better than others. It has been proven that some ideas are better for the long run in the preservation of civil society based upon mutual consent. Therefore, because I believe some ideas are better for the long run, I also believe that some ideas are bad for the preservation of civil society based on preserving as much individual freedom as possible. I believe I will be held accountable for my deeds and the results of my deeds – by commission and by omission.

      However, those are my personal beliefs and I can in no way enforce them upon another. It would be great if everyone believed as I do, hence the work of evangelicals to spread this idea…but ultimately it is a choice made in the heart before God. Therefore, we cannot legislate good behavior, but we can punish those that break the law.

      Until those holding power in our government are held accountable for their lawlessness – we have a Secretary of the Treasury that is a self-confessed tax cheat (!) – there can be no justice. Until lawbreakers on Wall Street are taken to jail, tried, and sentenced to prison, there is no justice. Unless a man is able to be rewarded for his ability to serve others, there will be encroaching slavery. Unless we stop our government from spending money we don’t have – $14 Trillion debt – our little children will have such a debt to pay, they will be born into slavery. Who will suffer the most should our economy fail: the old, the afflicted, the poor, the widow. These are my fears. This is why I am the organizer for the Bryan/College Station Tea Party.

      It’s not about the tax rate, although the tax code is a joke with lobbyists getting special favors that the rest of us must pay for. This is about preserving the original intent of our Constitution that recognizes our individual freedom as a gift from our Creator and limits the power of government to encroach upon that liberty. Caring for others requires compassion of which the faceless government is devoid, therefore it is the responsibility of individuals. The current members of Congress want us to think they are doing these things from compassion, but since they are not actually delivering the need – just empowering others to do it for them – the entire Health Care idea is a sham to buy our votes for their own personal power.

      ‘Freedom from..rights’ are a passage to complete servitude as much as in the Dark Ages the peasants looked to the local Baron to protect them from enemies by selling themselves into serfdom. Stand up for ‘Freedom To… rights.’

      I’d love to meet you and discuss these ideas further. Maybe we could have a group get-together and discuss over a pint. You sound like you are really trying to search things out..and I’m an ex-teacher…who was born that way…not made by credentials. ha! I love to impart wisdom – Proverbs 8

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