Tea party targets taxes and spending

In 1773, a band of colonists -- some might call them hoodlums -- in Boston were fed up with the British-imposed taxes on imported goods. Without any representation in Parliament thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean, the colonists wanted to get the government's attention. The Sons of Liberty, as the protesting colonists called themselves, dressed as American Indians and boarded ships in the Boston Harbor where boxes of tea subject to taxation were dumped overboard.

In response to what now is called the Boston Tea Party, the British government adopted even tougher laws for the Massachusetts colony. One, called the Intolerable Acts, closed the Boston harbor until the colonists paid for all the tea dumped during the protest. This further government clamp on colonial administration helped many colonists decide to join the effort to form a revolutionary government, which led to the Revolutionary War.

Today, many Americans believe the federal government in Washington has lost touch with constituents, some thousands of miles away. Part of the unhappiness is generated by taxation and spending policies, particularly those being considered currently by Congress and the White House.

As a result, protests are springing up across the nation under the banner of local organizers such as the Cape Girardeau Tea Party, which has scheduled a protest for 5 to 7 p.m. today at Capaha Park. Similar groups have formed elsewhere that are loosely aligned with groups calling themselves the New American Tea Party.

All of these tea parties focus on what we were taught in history class about the Boston Tea Party: the unfairness of taxation without representation, the cavalier actions of government without regard for the governed, pork-barrel spending and the imposition of taxes to pay for it.

It is fitting, organizers say, that the Cape Girardeau group chose April 15 -- Tax Day -- for the local protest. This is the day with a third of American taxpayers will file, at the last minute, their tax returns while Congress tries to justify trillions of dollars in new spending to tinker with the nation's economy.