Sunday, November 08, 2009

Tea Party History

With the "Tea Party protests" so popular among some Americans as a way to defy big government, a history lesson from one of my favorite books seems appropriate.

Most believe that the original Boston Tea Party was a protest against taxes on tea. In reality, the Americans weren't drinking that much British tea; local merchants have been boycotting it for five years, relying on smuggled Dutch tea instead. So, the British decided to remove some of the taxes on British tea in an attempt to make it competitive with Dutch tea.

Loyal British merchants would be granted the right to sell this cheap tea, effectively running the American merchants out of business. That's what the tea party was all about and why those merchants threw their competition into the ocean. (Granted, this would grant a monopoly on British tea to Loyalists, but the problem with monopolies is they increase price and restrict outputs which wouldn't be an issue here, given it has to compete with Dutch tea.) The famed party wasn't a protest of tariffs, it was a protest for a lack of tariffs, as bootleggers supported Prohibition and drug dealers benefit from the DEA.

The Tea Party wasn't celebrated in the colonies, either. The systematic destruction of private property highlighted Massachusetts' reputation as a place for warmongers and Benjamin Franklin demanded that the protesters pay full restitution to the owners of the destroyed tea.

As much as I empathize with the concerns of the modern protesters, this probably isn't the thing you want to be referencing to get your point across.

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