Besides gnashing one's teeth or making fun of Timothy Geithner's dweebiness, there is little frustrated taxpayers can do about the spiraling-out-of-control federal deficit. To channel their rage, fed-up conservatives have been organizing "tea parties" around the country, mimicking the Boston Tea Party cry of "no taxation without representation." Event organizers are planning a coordinated, multi-city protest on Tax Day, April 15.
Locally, 23-year-old Lauren O'Brien is leading the charge. She's rallying folks to protest at the federal courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale, and has even set up a Facebook page and joined with radio host Joyce Kaufman to publicize the event. "We do have congressmen and senators," O'Brien says, "but they're not listening to us, so they're not representing us in they way they're supposed to." At the courthouse on the evening of the 15th, O'Brien says, protesters will be encouraged to wave signs and flood their congressmen's phone lines. They considered throwing tea in the New River, she says, "but that would be an environmental issue." They may bring a bathtub for ceremonial tea dumping.
O'Brien says she's surprised to find herself in the role of conservative organizer. "Most young people are liberals - we're young, we're optimistic. But then I had kids, and all this [bailout] stuff started happening. I'm a registered Democrat -- I'm gonna be changing that sometime soon."
O'Brien says that her husband is an electrician and she is a college student, so her family is squeezed for money. Although her kids are on Medicaid, she dislikes government involvement in the economy: "Soon, it'll just be socialism -- and that's really scary." She's going to school to be a math teacher, but even she has trouble comprehending the gargantuan numbers involved with the deficit. "I remember watching Fox news," she says, "They were talking about the money for the bailout and how much was left. I was trying to do the math in my head, but the answer wasn't making sense. I cant even figure out all those zeros! What goes after trillion? I'll stick to my
X's and Y's in algebra."