Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tea immersion

I have recently been reading and nosing around the internet more to learn about the whole Tea Party thing. Much as we would like to dismiss it, there are a lot of angry people out there.  Looking at pictures of movement members, one thing that springs to mind, aside from the general whiteness of most of them, is that they look like people who have typically not had intellectually engaging professions, though I'm sure there are lots of white collar movement members.  But, to the extent that the movement is engaging working class people, reading the Constitution and playing an active role in political discourse, it's not all bad.

Nor is it entirely delusional. Lots of people are mad about bailouts, deficits, banks, etc. Arianna Huffington's "Move Your Money" campaign has similar drivers, to the extent that it seeks to deny the big banks of their power base.  Matt Taibbi's whole "blood-sucking squid" discourse around Goldman Sachs grows from similar conspiracy theory soil.

However, to the extent that these people are polishing their guns as they plan for armed insurrection, it's all bad.  Some members advocate sherriffs and other law enforcers should only support laws that are constitutional.  They should therefore be determining constitutionality on their feet, from behind the wheel of their cruisers.  Hmmm.  I thought that's what the Supreme Court was for.  Much as I disagree with Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas on a variety of issues, they are doing their jobs as the Constitution defines them.

Right now I'm listening to the Runaway Slave show of CL Bryant, a black msn.  They are railing against Michele Obama's program to control obesity, defending individuals' god-given rights to be fat or skinny.  Everything is the fault of the government.

Anyway, the main problem is the guns and the fact that they are fomenting armed rebellion. If they dominate mid-term elections, it is the Democrats fault for not figuring out good counter-messaging.

postscript:  I was so caught up in work that I failed to notice that a loonie tax "patriot" had torched his house and slammed his plane into an IRS building.  It is encouraging at least that a Republican congressman has been willing to stand up to the tea party pressures and call it an act of terrorism even before law enforcement does the same.


Anonymous said...

I do not think the government is to blame for everything. There is the government's failure to budget and the growing gap between rich and poor in America. I'm not sure the American government is creating the conditions under which every citizen can work to obtain the things they need. It seems the government is trying to give people the things they need by taking or borrowing money from one group and redistributing it to another, whether that group is a corporation, industry, or favored minority. The government cannot, by itself, grow the economy through the taxation of some to obtain the money to employ others in government jobs. This creates more government jobs with the sustainability dependent upon the work of others. The government might do better to create conditions under which the creation of jobs in the USA by private companies and individuals is more lucrative than the creation of jobs elsewhere. Just a thought.

Graham Blaylock Pendergrass said...

The tax burden right now is not particularly high by historic standards, nor has anybody proposed to return top marginal tax rates to any higher than they were under Clinton, which was not that high. This whole narrative of "taking from rich, giving to poor" has been kicked up by people fixating on one unguarded comment from Obama.

That said, it is clear that, as we emerge from the crisis, a clear target should be not government jobs per se but the benefits packages attached to them. The gap between public sector and private sector effective total compensation is just silly.

At the same time, it is a fallacy and romantic myth to say that government jobs are not productive of value, that only the private sector can innovate and drive dynamism. We would be fucked without the National Institutes of Health, the Center for Disease Control, the R&D conducted and funded by the Department of Defense, and lots of other government programs. And government jobs, to the extent that they are less cyclical than private sector ones, are stable sources of tax revenue.