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One Woman's Opinion

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Tea with Mary

by Mary Wakefield Buxton
Urbanna, Va.— God must be a big-spending Congressman. Or so I imagined when I awoke on Tax Day, April 15, and peered out the window. It was raining cats and dogs.

No matter. Today was my tea party at noon, and nothing would stop me from throwing my tea leaves in Urbanna Creek. Like the U.S. Post Office that delivers mail in all kinds of weather, I would exercise my freedom of speech and right of assembly, even in a storm.

At age 67, it was my very first protest. Unplanned, not affiliated with any group or organization, and generally unpublicized, I stood in the pouring rain with about 50 other citizens and expressed unhappiness with the unchecked Congress which, in just a few months, managed to double the national debt, pass another 8,500 earmarks, and burden our children and grandchildren to decades of higher taxes.

Don’t get me wrong. My protest was not directed solely at Democrats (although they control Congress). Over the last few years Republicans have disappointed me too. There is far too much reckless spending in government. Congress behaves like a wild teenager let loose on the shopping centers of the world with a brand new charge card—and with nary a thought as to how he might pay back his charges.

Most in my generation come from a different school of thought when it comes to running finances. We plan for expenses, live on a budget, and only borrow money for an emergency. We have a plan how to pay a loan back.

I expect government to reflect similar fiscal responsibility. It is more than ironic for Congress to spend like a drunken sailor just at a time when its citizens are tightening belts, paying down debt and spending money responsibly.

The new debt, which now runs in the trillions of dollars, will have interest each year of $800 billion. How do we intend to pay back such a staggering debt, let alone meet the annual interest on it? One idea floating in D.C. is that the U.S. Treasury plans to print the extra money needed for the stimulus package and ask China to loan us the rest.

What is equally stunning is the cavalier attitude and willingness to pass our economic debt to the next generation to pay off. Such nonchalance goes so against my grain that I can barely stand to write of it.

My protest went off without a hitch. I started the program at noon sharp and in spite of heavy rain I counted 50 attendees before I made a speech listing my grievances and why. I saw cars were still streaming into the Urbanna Town Marina parking lot.

The only downside was an unidentified, tall man in the crowd who taped my speech on his video recorder. It was disconcerting. I wondered why on earth the man was standing in the rain and filming me.

Later, when I heard on CNN that tea party organizers were suspected of being “right-wing operatives,” I laughed out loud. Why is it that we so quickly lose our tolerance when people express views that disagree with our own?

I was both thrilled and proud, however, that I had an opportunity to lead a protest. It was good to speak my mind and warn others of the dangers that I see in unchecked Congressional spending.  It was satisfying to take a stand for my country.

Several days later, President Obama, in a cabinet meeting, asked his directors to each make cuts in their departments to total $100 million. That is not a lot of money in today’s trillion dollar world, but I was glad to hear that somebody in Washington was interested in cutting rather than adding to our huge national debt.

I decided that our little tea party in Urbanna, along with the tea party in Saluda, and all the other extemporaneous tea parties that popped up this month around the nation in opposition to the Congressional spending spree have helped bring about a more reflective nation.

Do we really want to burden future generations with taxes far higher than what we have had to pay? Should we stop, think, and consider full consequences of our actions before continuing to add more debt?

I hope so. Fiscal responsibility is the most important ingredient in good government. Keeping a strong America and passing it along to future generations should be our number one concern. ©2009

posted 04.29.2009

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