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Friday, May 7, 2010


Photo: It's highly unlikely that you'd see the parents of these kids at a Philadelphia Tea Party Meeting.

I have a reoccurring dream in which members of the Tea Party try to throw a party at Penn Treaty Park, but wind up walking away because nobody shows up. Then I imagine the Tea Party trying to orchestrate an event in Port Richmond near Pulaski Park after sending out advance emails and flyers accusing President Obama of trying to rename the country, The United Socialist States of America.

The word ‘socialist,’ you see, is supposed to be one of those buzz words that makes people think of Communism. But if socialism always equaled communism, why isn’t (mostly) socialist Europe—include England in that mix—Marxist? These non-Communist (and only mildly) socialist countries have free elections, freedom of speech, and in some of them, like the Scandinavian countries, there is very little poverty.

Tea Baggers apparently know nothing of Democratic Socialism, which is about as far from Communism as you can get. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a sort of New Deal Democratic Socialist when he started the Works Progress Administration and Social Security. Tea Baggers, if they could go back in time, would want Social Security dismantled because it involves a government check for retirees every month.

“Fend for yourselves,” Tea Baggers say, “Don’t depend on the government to give you money.”

Tea Baggers seem to forget that the United States has already tried the limited government approach. In the mid to late 1800s, during the so called Gilded Age, Irish immigrants in Philadelphia, their wives and children as young as 10 years old, were forced to worked 14 hours a day in stevedore, textile or weaving jobs. President Roosevelt later instituted the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which put limits on child labor and how many hours an employer could force employees to work. Tea Baggers, in theory anyway, would seem to support the government staying out of this issue. “Let the corporations decide what’s good for the workers, not the government!” is a refrain we hear today.

Do I think Tea Bagger meetings will make progress in the neighborhoods? No, not even if they set up tents along Aramingo Avenue and hold up signs that read, “We’re mad a hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore!”

Tea Baggers are angry because government has involved itself in the business of health insurance. The irony is that most if not all Tea Baggers already have very good health insurance.
The New York Times says that 88% of Tea Baggers don’t like Obama. Big surprise, huh? I think I know the reason for their dislike, and it has nothing to do with government interference in the lives of average Americans. Nineteen percent of Tea Baggers don’t know why they don’t like Obama. Gee, imagine that.

When I first heard of the Tea Party, I knew instantly, without even delving into their philosophy, that they would have the same drippy (albeit unsteady) properties as a wet tea bag.

Recently, Center City Philadelphia held its first Tea Party meeting, an event that was covered in City Paper. One of the organizers is a friend of mine. This friend is a unique individual, even if I don’t agree with her politics.

Her meeting attracted a fairly upscale group, which seems to jive with the profile of Tea Baggers in The New York Times as earning more money than the average American. I was invited but opted not to go, since I don’t have health insurance. How could I sit idly by and be polite as people with top shelf health insurance castigated a president who has taken the first steps to make sure that people like me get it?

Long before the event, my friend sent me copies of her Tea Bagger email mass mailings. These messages pulled no punches. They talked about the immorality of President Obama’s health care reform, and how the government should exercise no responsibility for poor citizens.
If you cannot afford health insurance, tough luck: work a second or third job—how about a fourth? -- And make it work for you.

That’s what they said in the Gilded Age to the poor Irish in Philadelphia, although they added a caveat: If you can’t make it work, head to a soup kitchen.


Dear Mr. Nickels,

Sorry if this is a bit long, but these people really piss me off!I’ve been reading your columns in both the Weekly Press and Fishtown Star for a while now and I just had to respond to your May 6th column in the Star, “Tea Party needs a bit of a quick history lesson.”Don’t worry: I’m not going to jump on your back. FAR from it! If you picked up this week’s City Paper you would have seen my rather lovely worded Letter about those losers, so I’ve proven I’m definitely no fan of theirs.

I’d like to address two main points from the aforementioned column: First, about the reaction from Fishtown locals if the Tea Party were to set up a stand on Aramingo Avenue and, second, about the organizer of the Center City Tea Party who was featured in the City Paper a few weeks back.I think you put way too much stock in those people from Fishtown, Thom. No, they’re not all bad, but I was unfortunate to have grown up in the neighborhood right next to Fishtown (begins with a “K”), so I know how incredibly right-wing those folks can be – and they certainly are not the ones to benefit from such a mindset! If the Tea Party came to the neighborhood, they’d join – enthusiastically!

The locals are majority blue-collar families (translation: They work nothing jobs for little pay and no benefits) – and they’re happy to have nothing. In fact, these are the same people who take to the streets (when they’re not busy with “American Idol,” Fox Noise, or other mindless crap oozing from the boob tube) and fight to continue to have nothing. As a matter of fact, I just had it out on Facebook recently with one of them over health care and she stated that true reform will never happen until health care companies regulate themselves. I immediately shock back with, “Don’t hold your breath, because no one is giving up THAT kind of money!” She pays over a grand a month for health insurance for her and her family (she must have a good enough job to be able to do that in the first place) and I asked whether or not that was right for people like her to do that, given that this is supposedly, allegedly, the greatest country on the planet (in Reagan-speak). No answer.

BTW: Many immigrant groups went through the same crap that the Irish did (the Italians suffered a lot, too, with the added bonus of being discriminated against by people of their own religion), blacks have always been treated like nothing in this country, and the Indians (natives!) got the worst deal of anyone, I think. (But Texas school children will never hear of all that with the change in history that’s going to happen in their classrooms shortly. Hey, even the people who do know about all that don’t care, asking such deep questions as, “Why do I need to know this?” “How does this affect me?” “Will it make me money?”)

One last thing: I don’t have health insurance, either, so I’m with you in that boat. As a matter of fact, I owe two hospitals over $3,000 and every time I bring this up to a Tea Party loser, they never have an answer as to why anyone’s life and credit have to be destroyed because this country just can’t get it together and take care of the basic needs of its citizens. The “I’ve got mine, f**k you” mentality really caught on during the Reagan years and too many Americans let that motto become part of who they are. It’s sad.And thanks for pointing out the difference between socialism and communism. Problem is, it’s going to go right over those Tea Bag morons’ heads because they’re going to believe what they want – the facts be damned. Fox Noise’s will be done in their trailer parks!

To end on a positive note: I’m glad to see people are finally speaking up about these losers. The rest of the world is right to treat them as the jokes that they truly are. Too bad this country can’t follow that lead.


Donna Di Giacomo

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