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Tea Time

by Dear Jon
April 21, 2009


Dear Jon,

How do you think the tea parties went? I got excited to see some real down to earth enthusiasm.

Misty marge

Dear Misty,

I have to admit I am more into coffee than tea generally, although tea is better for the bronchials. Some people like to build tea houses on the summits of mountains, but I don't hike 6,000 feet just to sit down to some Earl Gray and a rusk.

The German custom of "Coffee Time" is more to my liking than the English "Tea Time." It is the German way of having "dessert first" before their supper time. The heavy, fattening stuff is out of the way, the evening is set aside for light eating only, and everyone sleeps better, except those Germans who have tanked up on Espresso at 4:30 PM. 

Whether we are talking about coffee or tea (or chocolate, for that matter), we are tacitly confessing to the parts we play in the ongoing cash-crop colonialism over our neighbors in underdeveloped nations. As a check against this form of exploitation, some guilt-ridden  intellectuals with liberal sympathies and deep pockets insist on only buying "Fair Trade" coffee etc. This is pretty much coffee, or other traditional commodoties of imperialism, purchased by westerners on faith that the growers are really  living on a collectivist farming utopia which is miraculously insulated from the corruption and Fascism of their host nation.

Have you noticed that the labels explain these philosophies in impeccable English?

All of this talk about afternoon snacks and parties is making me hungry. It is also reminding me of some interesting tidbits from history.

Once upon a time a rough-neck group of colonial settlers on under-developed territory, resented the high-handed exploitation of their imperial government through such symbolic measures as forcing them to import tea, and then inflating the price with a tax. This caused a rebellion among these backwards settlers, who insisted on self-determination and independence from the cultivated, insulated regimes of Europe. So they had a "tea party," which was an act of vandalism as as they boarded ships in the middle of the night and dumped the cargo overboard.

Of course I am referring to the patriots among our American predeccessors. It is interesting, Misty Marge, that this April of 2009 a group of disgruntled Americans decided to stage "tea party" rallies as a protest. (If this is what you were referring to originally, sorry for the digression.)

Protesting what? It is difficult to say.  Protesting the colonial-style exploitation that allows Americans to consume cheap coffee and tea? Doubtful. Protesting the abuse of imperial power and a global form of unilateralism? Hardly.

Protesting the last election and the clear will of the self-determining majority of Americans? That is more like it. What hath this "tea party rally" to do with Samuel Adams and the Boston Patriots of the 1770's? Next to nothing. For if this year's tea party rally participants are protesting trillions of tax dollars being dumped into "toxic assets" and government entitlement programs, then they are protesting the continuation of the polices of George W. Bush. To wit:

a) Economic bail-outs in massive amounts were begun during the Bush regime.

b) Under Bush the government has seized power in the realm of education, and enlarged entitlement programs with prescription benefits for seniors.

c) This economic crap-shoot built around foreign oil and domestic housing inflation, which rolled snake-eyes,  was a game the Bush administration bankrolled and played.

So these tea party rallies were a lot of bluster, Misty Marge, that is my opinion, since you asked. We will not see energies directed toward real change until the tea, the coffee, the cocoa, and the sugar are off of our shelves and unavailable, petroleum is rationed at $7.50 per gallon, and unemployment crosses 25%. I'm not saying that those things will happen anytime soon. What I am saying is that the pain we think we feel right now, is a bee sting compared to life in the 1930's (about eighty years ago), life on the frontier eighty years before that, and life in the colonies eighty years before that.

The pain of the colonial period divided the people from themselves and gave birth to a new nation. The pain of the Depression united the people to a new communitarian value of common purpose and solidarity. What has the economic bee sting in our times done? So far it has only created a tempest in a teapot, with voices that are more shrill than ever.

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