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A New Tea Party



July 05, 2010 – Comments (13)

My Tea Party By James Howard Kunstler
on July 5, 2010 9:19 AM


Now that congress has passed a fake financial reform bill that will accomplish absolutely nothing to correct a recently engrained culture of swindling, I want to start my own tea party. I don't want to associate it with the other tea parties that have already formed because I am allergic to much of the idiot ideology they express - especially the bent for merging Christian fundamentalism with governance.

XXX     One of the few things I agree on with the existing tea parties is that the Republicans and Democrats have made themselves hopeless hostages of political money and bargained away their legitimacy. In line with my general belief that American life must downscale or die, I'm not wholly persuaded that federalism can survive in any case - but assuming it will lumber on for a while anyway, the two major parties cannot retain their monopoly on power. Indeed, it is in the natural order of things that this country must periodically endure a realignment of political ideas and political power. This tends to occur during moments of cultural convulsion, and that is exactly the moment we are in as the sun sets on the fossil fuel based industrial extravaganza and we enter a crisis of intense resource austerity.

XXX     The other tea parties have been silent on the war because of the ties between Christian fundamentalism and military chauvinism. This is due, I suspect, to the tea parties first emanating out of Dixieland, where an old Scots-Irish "cracker" belligerence persists in a romantic view of violence - and where, coincidentally, there happen to be so many US military bases, and families dependent on careers connected with them. The confusions of hellfire Christian theology with governance form an overlayment on this, so you end up with a political culture favoring military adventures abroad and pushing citizens around at home on matters of social behavior (while mouthing a lot of disingenuous nonsense about "liberty").

XXX    I don't like that political culture and I'm not in favor of continuing our adventures on the fringes of the Middle East. The half-assed occupation of Afghanistan cannot be resolved in a way consistent with our fantasies and wishes. To put it as simply as possible, we can't control the terrain there and we can't control the behavior of the population. Our campaign to turn that remote and impoverished land into a governable democratic state is an exercise in futility that we can't afford. No doubt there are strategic wishes pinned to it - mainly a wish to influence and moderate neighboring Pakistan - but that appears to be back-firing with the minting of evermore Islamic maniacs seeking to blow up anything that presents a target, including their own women and children.

XXX     Iraq is a somewhat different story, but I suspect the bottom line is that we can't afford to run a police station there forever. In the worst-case of our leaving, Iran might attempt to step in and control the place (and its oil), but that would only produce a bloody collision of Arab and Persian culture - and the side effect of that might actually be to our benefit. Anyway, my tea party would shut down that operation ahead of schedule.

XXX     My tea party would reduce legal immigration to a tiny trickle and get serious about enforcing sanctions against people who are here without permission. A New York Times editorial last week expressed the Democratic-progressive view in typically tortured style, saying of the recent Arizona law:

XXXX makes a crime out of being a foreigner in the state without papers -- in most cases a civil violation of federal law. This is an invitation to racial profiling, an impediment to effective policing and a usurpation of federal authority....

XXX    The fine distinction they want to apply in this matter between civil and criminal law is the same as NPR's house style of referring to illegal immigrants as "undocumented" - leaving the impression that the only problem for these people is a some bureaucratic glitch rather than a transgression of law. The truth is that neither party really wants to do anything about the extraordinary influx of Mexican nationals because they want to pander to a growing segment of Hispanic voters (or secondarily want to maintain the pool of cheap labor for US businesses). My party does not believe in unbounded multi-culturalism. My party also views the lawlessness of the current situation to be corrosive of the rule-of-law generally. My party views the global population overshoot problem as a condition that requires a more rigorous defense of US territory, sovereign resources, and even whatever remains of American common culture.

XXX     My tea party would systematically dismantle Too-Big-To-Fail banks into smaller units subject to real reforms that would prevent any further "socialization" of losses by financial buccaneers. In effect, my party would re-enact the Glass-Steagall laws - and get rid of the 3000-page bundle of prevaricating crap in the current "Fin-Reg" law, which has been constructed with all the guile and mendacity of a collateralized debt obligation. My party would seek the return of banking to its function as a utility, while letting investment freebooters gamble with their own funds without any government back-up. (You'll see the investment houses get small fast that way.)

XXX     My tea party would get the government out of the housing business. The main effect of 70 years of federal intervention for the sake of "affordable" housing has been to drive the price of housing up far beyond the ability of normal people to afford a place to live. And the current policies devised during the bubble crackup crisis have only served to prevent the price of houses from returning to a level where people might be willing to buy them. Of course, the whole process has also encouraged local governments to jack up property taxes to a level that can only be described as intolerable (in the 1776 sense of the word).

XXX     My party would undertake a rebuilding of the US passenger railroad system - not a flashy new "high speed" system, which we cannot afford, but the system that is lying out there rusting in the rain waiting to be fixed. This is imperative because we are on the verge of very disruptive problems with our oil supply which are going to put our beloved Happy Motoring matrix out-of-business. We also face the end of mass commercial aviation (even if flying remains an option for the wealthy). A restored passenger rail system will not solve all the problems connected with the demise of mass motoring, but it will help a lot, and would be an aid to the necessary re-activation of our small towns and cities as suburbia inevitably loses its value and utility.

XXX     The leaders of my tea party from the president on down would make a concerted effort to inform the public in straight talk about the real problems that we face involving peak oil and debt. My tea party would promote reality-based politics rather than techno-grandiose fantasies and wishful thinking. My tea party would encourage the necessary downscaling of all the critical activities of American daily life, including the re-localization of food production, the rebuilding of local commercial networks, the revitalization of the small towns and cities, and the difficult transition out of extreme car dependency. My tea party will do everything possible to construct a coherent consensus about what is happening to us and what we can do about it. My tea party is based on the true spirit of 1776 - the binding together of common interests and common culture - not the destruction of them as in the spirit of 1861.

13 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On July 05, 2010 at 1:10 PM, BroadwayDan (98.08) wrote:

... the Republicans and Democrats have made themselves hopeless hostages of political money and bargained away their legitimacy.

Truer words cannot be written.  

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#2) On July 05, 2010 at 1:16 PM, dargus (82.28) wrote:

Why would you restrict legal immigration? It should be increased. Even with 10% unemployment, we still seem to have a need for this class of labors.

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#3) On July 05, 2010 at 1:18 PM, FleaBagger (27.39) wrote:

Kunstler's an ass.

However, I echo Dan's agreement of that one line. 

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#4) On July 05, 2010 at 1:45 PM, Varchild2008 (85.40) wrote:

Not sure what you are smoking but you do not sound like you need to create your own TEA PARTY but rather join in on the one that exists....

The one that exists doesn't require that you agree 100% of the time with everything.... Just that you fundamentally agree that our nation is not headed in the right direction, which you seem to do....

And you seem to "GET IT" for the most part.... except for your naivete on the War and Terrorism.

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#5) On July 05, 2010 at 1:47 PM, FleaBagger (27.39) wrote:

To take dargus' point even further, if we have attempted immigration, it means one of two things: 1) there is a real demand for their labor in our country, or 2) they are getting something for free from the government. 

If you end the welfare state, all remaining immigration will be of great benefit to the country. 

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#6) On July 05, 2010 at 1:51 PM, mhonarvar (< 20) wrote:

"I want to start my own tea party"....."but not like the other tea parties"


how about NOT calling it a tea party then?

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#7) On July 05, 2010 at 2:07 PM, Varchild2008 (85.40) wrote:

"If you end the welfare state, all remaining immigration will be of great benefit to the country. "

As long as we also close our borders so as to stop allowing HEZBOLLAH to cross over from Mexico to Arizona which they have been along with many terrorists in the Middle East countries.

See  Channel 2,  Atlanta Georga.

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#8) On July 05, 2010 at 5:16 PM, cthomas1017 (98.93) wrote:

I'd rather read alstry's posts than kunstler.  If I were to ever doubt God's wisdom, I would start with why He wasted even one DNA strand on this sorry excuse of humanity.

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#9) On July 06, 2010 at 12:28 AM, 1315623493 wrote:

I would join this party if not for the ridiculous view on immigration. This country is a nation of immigrants, built by immigrants, for immigrants, including you, unless you're a native American, which I take it you're not. I like your take on Christian fundamentalism, but your stance on immigration is no less idiotic. Not to mention the fact that you can't prevent desperate people from trekking across deserts and rivers just to find a menial labor, unless you want to turn America into a police state and do a mass deportation (hmm just like Joseph Stalin), which I don't think you want. From the inscription on the statue of liberty...

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
' With silent lips. "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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"


My take. This Tea Party has many good points, but the few bad ones destroy its credibility. 

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#10) On July 06, 2010 at 8:35 AM, JakilaTheHun (99.91) wrote:

Good article.  I agree with much of it.

Main things I disagree on:

(1) Immigration --- this is an issue that I've never come to any conclusions on how to solve.  The only effective way to stop people from flooding into the US illegally is to address the underlying issues in places like Mexico and Central America.  I would say ending the Drug War would actually be one positive step in that direction.  Taking action against East Asian mercantilist nations would be another --- they harm Latin American manufacturers more than nearly anyone else. 

(2) Multiculturalism --- I don't understand the opposition to 'multi-culturalism'.  We've always been a nation of immigrants and immigration is good for the US, to a reasonable extent.  However, we can't absorb the sheer masses of people from Mexico or Latin America without negative side affects.  I don't understand his problem with 'legal immigration'  --- that makes no sense.  The people who are legally immigrating here are normally some of the biggest contributors to our society.

(3) High-speed rail --- I don't believe the author understands the problems associated with the modern US passanger rail system.  It's expensive and slow. High-speed rail is actually less expensive and quicker.  Lower travel times mean lower labor costs.  I have an alternative proposal, which is to build a National High Speed Rail Network and allow private companies to bid on the rights to lease the lines.  This would create a revenue source for the government, but allow the system to be run by more efficient private companies.  These companies should be exempt from taxation --- the 'leasing rights' will serve as a substitute. 


(4) Banks --- I actually mostly agree with him on the banks, but I'd take less dramatic action.  I believe the big banks should merely be required to pay disproportionately higher FDIC fees based on their risk level.  If they are too big to fail, it should cost a lot more to insure them.   This would actually give them a competitve disadvantage and help empower smaller banks.  The problem with breaking up the big banks is that it would merely put the US at a competitive disadvantage with the big European banks. 

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#11) On July 06, 2010 at 9:46 AM, Turfscape (< 20) wrote:

I was sitting here at my desk trying to figure out how to define "half-baked"...then I read this post. Thank you!

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#12) On July 06, 2010 at 1:05 PM, FleaBagger (27.39) wrote:

As far as Hezbollah is concerned, the border is not the best place to try to deal with them.

And as far as people who think that immigration would get out of hand, that is only because of the things that the government tries to provide for free, or at greatly reduced price. If government let entrepreneurs handle immigration, everyone would have a productive job (or else they wouldn't immigrate), and everyone would have the roads, homes, and utilities they believe they need. You might have twelve people living in one person's basement, but that's the way the free market goes sometimes. They would pay for whatever they use, and everyone would be content with how they get to use their property.

People (e.g. Kunstler) who want to strip others of their property rights create for themselves the administrative nightmares that they pat themselves on the back for wrestling with. Why not allow freedom and property rights and leave everyone to "administer" his own affairs? 

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#13) On July 08, 2010 at 6:44 PM, spellsly (< 20) wrote:

Shouldn't Kunstler, like, resign from his job now?

It'd be the honorable thing to do, considering in 200 years or so he will be a founding father.


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