Walk This Way

(Editor's Note: The following are the edited remarks delivered by Kenneth M. Braun, policy analyst for the Mackinac Center, before about 1,000 people at a TEA Party in Hudsonville, Mich., on April 15, 2009.)

"This meeting can do nothing more to save the country."

With those words, Sam Adams sent the signal to begin the Boston Tea Party.

The tea floating in Boston Harbor was the property of the British East India Company — then one of England's largest corporations — on the verge of bankruptcy because Americans and other customers were buying too much low-tax tea from Holland.

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So, one of the reasons for the Tea Act was because politicians in a far away capitol thought themselves smarter than Americans about how the American economy should work.

Sound familiar? "Bailout Nation" is not a new concept.

Sam Adams also had this to say: "If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin."

And also: "It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds."

You may think of yourselves as that tireless minority, but I have disappointing news. Most of you are not equal to the task. Not yet, because you probably don't know who those "vain and aspiring men" in the highest seats of government really are.

For example: Did you know that Michigan has its own Bailout Nation? It's true. Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the Michigan Legislature borrowed $400 million of your money and they are giving it away as grants and loans to businesses that win the favor of their economic advisors. And — don't laugh — these "experts" are chosen by your state politicians.

Your "vain and aspiring" state politicians called this the 21st Century Jobs Fund. That was November of 2005, a mere 463,832 lost jobs ago.

So this is why most of you are not up to the task of setting those brush fires that Sam Adams spoke of. The state House voted 92-13 in favor of the 21st Century Jobs Fund. The Senate voted for it 35-3. It is highly likely that all of your state lawmakers — Republican and Democrat — voted for this "pre-Bailout" using your money.

So it's been Bailout Nation time with your cash for a while. You know where your money is going, but do you know where your politician stands?

If these very inspiring gatherings are rallies against a president who has been in office for just three months, or a governor who will be gone in less than two years, or a bunch of generalized "politicians" in faraway capitol buildings, then you're not ready to do the job you came here for. Because if you don't know which one is responsible and for what, then it's very easy for ALL of them to point fingers at each other and tell you happy stories about being on your side and what they are doing to fight for you.

Two things are necessary to change that.

First, a tireless minority needs to know the names and actions of their own politicians. You need to find this information, become the expert that people look to for the truth, share it, and raise a ruckus every time the words of those "vain and aspiring" politicians don't match their deeds.

We make it easy for you with our publication Michigan Capitol Confidential. We report those votes that your politicians don't want you to hear about — and we tell you how they vote and how to get in touch with them. It's free to anyone who wants to be part of the tireless minority. We exist only on the financial donations of patriots, but we don't require those donations to send our paper to you.

I want every single one of you on my mailing list.

There are Web sites and other publications telling you what your federal politicians are doing. Find one you trust, and use it.

Second, do not let this momentum die. Get the e-mails of the people around you. Share information and ideas with each about what your politicians are up to and what you want to do about it.

You are taking a step today, but it won't matter at all if you don't start walking.

I'll end where I began:

"This meeting can do nothing more to save the country."

But you can.


Kenneth M. Braun is a policy analyst specializing in fiscal and budgetary issues at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the Center are properly cited.

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