by Max Brantley
The New York Times today outlines some of the texts inspiring Tea Party politicians.
It has resurrected once-obscure texts by dead writers — in some cases elevating them to best-seller status — to form a kind of Tea Party canon. Recommended by Tea Party icons like Ron Paul and Glenn Beck, the texts are being quoted everywhere from protest signs to Republican Party platforms.
Pamphlets in the Tea Party bid for a Second American Revolution, the works include Frédéric Bastiat’s “The Law,” published in 1850, which proclaimed that taxing people to pay for schools or roads was government-sanctioned theft, and Friedrich Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” (1944), which argued that a government that intervened in the economy would inevitably intervene in every aspect of its citizens’ lives.
The relative newcomer is “The 5000 Year Leap,” self-published in 1981 by an anti-communist crusader shunned by his fellow Mormons for his more controversial positions, including a hearty defense of the John Birch Society. It asserts that the Founding Fathers had not intended separation of church and state, and would have considered taxes to provide for the welfare of others “a sin.”
...Bastiat called taxation “legal plunder,” allowing the government to take something from one person and use it for the benefit of someone else, “doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.” In his view, protective tariffs, subsidies, progressive taxation, public schools, a minimum wage, and public assistance programs were of a piece. “All of these plans as a whole,” he wrote, “constitute socialism.”
And much more.