via Huffington Post
This essay made me laugh for about 5 minutes straight. I wish that so many "small government" types who profess to be against tyranny weren't really like this but unfortunately the stereotype is based in quite a bit of truth. Commentary after the jump. (Also, the link regarding Ron Paul's newsletters has been modified).
Fed up with what they see as a preponderance of unpleasant poor people controlling the national agenda, the Tea Party has countered the burgeoning Occupy Wall Street movement with its own series of radical protest groups called "Occupy Skid Row."
Already, hundreds of largely peaceful Tea Party Patriots have gathered in San Francisco's Tenderloin District, Seattle's Pioneer Square and impoverished areas of New York City and Los Angeles to bring their simple message to the American people: that the desperately poor, the homeless and those lacking even basic nutrition or medical attention simply do not care about what happens to the rest of the people in this country.
"All they care about is where their next meal is coming from, or whether or not the swelling in their feet and ankles might mean they could die of cardiac arrest at any moment," said one infuriated Tea Party protester. "For too long, we have let these moribund unfortunates make us feel like there is some sort of class inequality in the United States. It's time we stood up and said, "you sicken us!"
Police in riot gear descended upon one Occupy Skid Row faction in Portland Oregon's Old Town Chinatown when protesters insisted upon knocking the ladles out of the hands of volunteers who were attempting to dole out meals at a soup kitchen. Signs bearing such slogans as "Let Them Eat Cake" and "We Are the One Percent!" were seen falling to the ground in the ensuing melee. more...
In all seriousness, what has been lost in the Tea Party is the opposition to government-corporate collusion, since the movement began with mass protests against the financial industry bail-outs. Now, the Tea Party has been invaded by scores of bigots who believe that "liberty" is defined by freedom from helping others. Check out former New York governor candidate Carl Paladino, who gained Tea Party support with a platform that included relocating welfare recipients to prison dorms. On Lew Rockwell's site, Tea Party favorite Ron Paul wrote "As with all proponents of welfare programs, the supporters of H.R. 4 show a remarkable lack of trust in the American people. They would have us believe that without the federal government, the lives of the poor would be "nasty, brutish and short." However, as scholar Sheldon Richman of the Future of Freedom Foundation and others have shown, voluntary charities and organizations, such as friendly societies that devoted themselves to helping those in need, flourished in the days before the welfare state turned charity into a government function."
Perhaps someone should enlighten Paul about the history of poorhouses, which were considered to be the most efficient solution to poverty in previous times. Here is an excerpt from an excellent site with extensively documented histories of poorhouses and the frequently horrific treatment found within. "People who could not support themselves (and their families) were put up for bid at public auction....The person who got the contract got the use of the labor of the pauper for free in return for feeding, clothing, housing and providing health care for the pauper and his/her family. This was actually a form of indentured servitude. It sounds a lot like slavery -- except that it was technically not for the pauper's entire lifetime. And it had many of the perils of slavery. The welfare of the paupers depended almost entirely upon the kindness and fairness of the bidder. If he was motivated only by a desire to make the maximum profit off the "use" of the pauper, then concern for "the bottom line" might result in the pauper being denied adequate food, or safe and comfortable shelter, or even necessary medical treatment. And there often was very little recourse for protection against abuse....there was a fervent popular belief that housing such people in institutions would provide the opportunity to reform them and cure them of the bad habits and character defects that were assumed to be the cause of their poverty."
When analyzing right-wing rhetoric on poverty it is necessary to read between the lines to trace the beliefs to an origin in eugenics, and the notion that society is necessarily hierarchical because hierarchy reflects the natural moral order of the world, with disability of any form viewed as a moral flaw. This history can easily be forgotten in widespread social movements which have the financial backing of criminal mega-donors such as the Koch brothers, who obviously have their own interests at stake when it comes to revolt against corporate misconduct. So, personally, when I hear right-wing libertarians like Paul say that he would vote against the Civil Rights Act because discrimination is "ancient history", I sit up and take notice, especially considering the flagrant racism of his newsletters. Because this is not my idea of what "freedom" is about, and I highly doubt it is for the majority of Americans either. Ultimately, libertarians such as Paul will do little but provide more incentive for governmental centralization, since any opposition to its imposition will be characterized as bigotry and willful ignorance to social inequalities. The solution, from what I can see, lies in transforming the nature of liberty movements towards a genuinely compassionate grass roots base, with an emphasis on galvanizing local charities and mutual self help networks instead of bringing to life a Charles Dickens novel as Paul would prefer. Fortunately the American public has not totally lost their ability to spot empathy deficits so the survival-of-the-fittest policies of certain libertarians will not gain too much favor. Or at least we can hope so.