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Brushing up on modern cultural fiction I found hobbits are an imaginary diminutive race who inhabit middle-earth. According to the cranky loser, wobbly, John McCain, tea partiers are like hobbits.

Among the tea party hobbits are:

Janice who owns a hair salon in Boise, Idaho.

Jerry, an owner of a Heating and Cooling Contracting business in Dayton, Ohio

Jim, a real estate broker in Atlanta, Georgia.

Janice has seven independent hair stylists in her shop. She wonders whether the government will declare them employees and worries about increasing licensing requirements and liability insurance.  Last year she showed 45k as income, less than her best stylist, but she pocketed 10k in non-reported cash, which she believes is little compensation for her work and risk.

Jerry has eight employees and is concerned whether he will be able to continue providing them health insurance at an affordable rate.  His income is 90k which has declined from previous years. The increased demand on his time and money filling out government mandates is hurting the business, but not his large competitors who spread the cost over more volume.

Jim made over 100k in commissions in four years in the last decade, also less than 20k in four years.  He is 60 years old, too old to learn a new skill. He is concerned the government will eliminate independent real estate brokers as they eliminated independent mortgage brokers under Obama.

These three are representative of tea partiers, nothing flashy but productive people with worries and concerns. None of them contemplate extra legal action or request privileged hearings, but they assume they have free speech and a right to petition their government.

They do not represent a party but a voice sometimes within a party, sometimes not. So what contribution do the hobbits make to society?  Perhaps a comparison can illustrate.

Their polar opposite might contain these individuals:

Aaron, a professor at a state university.

Ann, an unemployed single mother of three in Cleveland, Ohio.

Alyssa, a vice president of human relations at XYZ, Inc.

Aaron has tenured status at the university and earns 145k, alternates teaching one or two classes per semester, writes technical papers and plans on retiring at fifty.

Ann has been unemployed for two years and has three children over twenty years. Her oldest son is in prison. She has been hesitant to take a job that pays below 12/hr, as doing so would increase the day care co-pay for her youngest.

Alyssa earns 270k a year at a large company primarily responsible for navigating the company through a gauntlet of employee regulations.

What is the difference between the hobbits and their polar opposites? The hobbits each produce something people freely chose to purchase. Janice, hair care; Jerry, comfort in homes and Jim, help acquiring property. Although one might argue hair care is not a necessity, each provides a service some would not chose to be without.

Aaron writes papers for journals nobody reads and teaches only 3-5 hours per week, which adds more to the ultimate cost of education than his salary. Government control and the subsidation of the university through research grants, lower than cost tuitions, pell grants and student loans insulate Aaron and administrators from any effort at efficiency.

Ann needs assistance from public agencies to maintain what lifestyle she has and acts accordingly.

As a generation ago efficiency and marketing made XYZ Corporation a powerhouse in the industry, today it is not the value of the product or the knowledge the consumer has of the product but the government favoritism a lobbying effort can generate and compliance with ever growing regulations that make Alyssa an important part of the company.

Which are necessary for society to function, the hobbits or the opposites? Which produce something of value; that is, value defined by free choice?  Which are instrumental in the economic system and which are not?  Which could we do without?

Hobbits—diminutive?  I think not.

Thank god for Hobbits.

By: W C (Bill) Augustine


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