Dedicated to the Tea Party in recognition of Tax Day
He stood on the stage bathing in the adulation of the assembled dignitaries. The Nobel Prize! At last, his body of work had been given the recognition it deserved. As the standing ovation went on he thought of his critics. He knew they were watching. Did this great hall look like the rubber room where they said he’d spend the rest of his days bouncing? Ha! His struggle had been so worth the effort…
Glenn Beck was awakened from his dream of adequacy by the sound of a man clearing his throat. He sat up and, after rubbing the sleep from his eyes, saw a glowing white colonial ghost standing beside his bed.
“Who are you?”
“My friends call me Ben. We have been watching you for some time and see how loyal you are to our cause. I have been sent to grant you the privilege of attending the real Boston Tea Party, that you may then be able to advance our cause with more familiarity and fervor. We haven’t much time. Touch my sleeve and join the cause.”
Glenn reached out and in an instant was transported to colonial Boston. A group of men were parading down the street with purpose in their step and eyes. “This is it!,” he thought as he fell in beside a man disguised as an Indian and carrying a tomahawk.
“Hello, neighbor. My name is Glenn Beck, what’s yours?”
“We’re not using names tonight, friend, but because you volunteer yours, mine is Hewes. George Hewes. Now, as this is a task for arms and backbone, not lips, keep to the work and to yourself. There is no need for inquiry. If you become confused follow my lead.”
Their group boarded a ship and assembled on the deck. The man in charge told Hewes to get the keys so they could unlock the ship’s hold. The Captain surrendered them with no resistance. As the hatches were being opened Hewes motioned for Glenn to join him at the ship’s rail.
Soon crates of tea were being tossed at their feet. George chopped them open with his tomahawk before they threw them into the harbor. Glenn worked with a pride and patriotism far more intense than he'd ever felt before. They labored in silence without stopping, but as the men below deck got deeper into the hold there was time to rest.
During one pause George spoke. “I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed such a still night.” There wasn't even a hint of a breeze. The only sounds were the murmur of the crowd on the wharf, the tomahawks chopping and splashes made by the tea crates.
Glenn took this to mean he could now speak. “Yes, it is a still night.” He pointed at some ships anchored nearby. “Whose ships are those?”
“Those are British.”
“British?” Glenn was confused. “They don’t mind us taking tea from their ships?”
“These are American ships.”
“But the tea is British?”
“It belongs to the East India Company.”
"But the taxes made the tea too expensive, and we've been taxed enough already,” Glenn declared. "Get it? T-E-A, taxed enough already?" Glenn smiled at the thought of teaching George the modern Tea Party slogan.
A quizzical look appeared on George's face. "I'm afraid I don't take your meaning. The tax is a minor sum, yet still a problem, but the tea is cheaper now than before.”
“What? That doesn't make sense,” Glenn said. “How can that be?”
George looked upward and sighed at the thought of having to explain what he felt any patriot should know, and then spoke.
“It has long been the law that the colonies import tea only from England. Recently, because of the taxes and duties charged by the crown, our boycott and the Dutch tea smugglers, the East India Company’s warehouse became full of tea they couldn’t sell. They were near bankruptcy when Parliament and King George suspended the duties and taxes paid in England, and allowed the direct importation of tea to the colonies. That eliminated the price addition by the English brokers. They also granted East India a monopoly on our tea imports. Now, even as a small tax remains, the cost is less than what the Dutch are charging.”
It took a moment for Glenn to grasp the meaning of it all. “Let me get this straight. We’re on an American ship destroying a private company’s legally purchased product, even after they have, through tax cuts and market innovation, trimmed their overhead, eliminated the middleman, and brought you quality tea at a low price. George, I’m sure you think yourself a patriot, but you're attacking the very engine of liberty!”
George was not pleased with Glenn’s accusation. “I have no desire to be taxed without representation by Parliament and King or ruled by an incorporation! First a monopoly on tea, then who knows what next? Will they control everything we...”
“Socialist!” Glenn shouted as he pushed George over the rail into the cold water below.
Somebody cried out “Man overboard, get a rope!”
As three men attended to rescuing George, the rest began surrounding Beck. Glenn dropped to his knees and started stuffing loose tea in his pockets and pants. “This is private property. It must be returned. You don’t understand what you’re doing. You’re not following free market principles!”
As the men drew closer Glenn stood up. “You're waging class war! You are socialist fascists conspiring to destroy the free market system!”
Glenn held his hands up, using his fingers as quotation marks as he went into his Kermit the Frog voice:
"Oh, look at me. I'm a socialist and a theif, but I think I'm a patriot."
The men laughed. One said: "Look! He's casting a spell. He thinks he's a witch!"
"He thinks he's a Tory witch," their leader said. "Let's see if he floats!"
A few men grabbed Beck and lifted him over their heads. As a wet George was being hauled back to the deck, a screaming Glenn was sent flying into the drink, becoming the only tea bag thrown into Boston Harbor that night.
Glenn was treading water until he realized he was back in his bedroom, standing in front of the ghost.
“Well, Mister Beck, what have you learned tonight?”
“I hope this doesn’t offend you, Ben, but I don’t think those men truly knew what they were doing. Sure, the tax on tea was wrong, but that was a minor matter compared to their outright theft of private property and vandalism. They were only hurting themselves by protesting that way. The Boston Tea Party was a collectivist assault on the free market principles that make for a great nation. Those men, no matter what they intended, were traitors. I hope you don’t mind me saying that, but that’s how I see it.”
“I don’t mind at all,” Ben replied. “I quite agree. Sometimes in their passion about one issue men neglect to consider the larger point.”
“Exactly!” Glenn paused. “Come to think of it,” he said as he began to sob, “it’s obvious that this descent…” Overcome with emotion, he bit his knuckles softly and held his hand up to ask for time to recover. “…into socialist fascism began 239 years ago. No wonder the forces of destruction are so strong today!”
Ben nodded. “You have well learned the lesson of the Boston Tea Party, Mister Beck, even if you tend towards lacing your corset too tightly. I now must take my leave, confident that you will continue the battle for our cause in your own day. Never forget the lesson you learned this night, and never surrender.”
Glenn smiled. “I’ll never surrender the cause, and will always carry the honor of not only meeting Ben Franklin, but having you validate my beliefs.”
“Not Benjamin Franklin," the ghost said as he dissolved into darkness.