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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Teabaggers Don't Really Understand Money

Empty walletIt's official; teabaggers don't really get it. When it comes to financing, they're as clueless as they are about economics. A movement that's defined mostly by the things they're against, the Tea Party has made one of those things very clear -- they're against spending money. It's a newly-found stinginess when it comes to federal spending, coming after nearly a decade of out-of-control money-shoveling by the Bush administration. See, it doesn't count when a Republican does it, because pointlessly invading foreign nations is patriotic. Keep in mind, these talk radio-fueled morons are the same ones who attacked the patriotism of anyone who opposed that big money fire that was the invasion of Iraq. But hypocrisy on the right is nothing new.

What is new is consistency. The teabaggers don't want to spend money -- not tax dollars, not pre-tax dollars. This is destroying them.


Some leading tea party activists are concerned that their efforts to reshape American politics, starting with the 2010 elections, are being undermined by a shortage of cash that’s partly the result of a deep ambivalence within the movement’s grass roots over the very idea of fundraising and partly attributable to an inability to win over the wealthy donors who fund the conservative establishment.

Many tea party organizations have shied away from the heavy-handed solicitations that flood the e-mail boxes of political activists. And the handful of tea party groups that have raised substantial amounts, either by embracing aggressive fundraising or through pre-existing connections to wealthy donors, are viewed suspiciously within the movement.

Local groups have been left to literally pass hats seeking donations at their meetings or rely on their organizers' bank accounts, while some national groups have failed to live up to their bold fundraising predictions.

Case in point, Karin Hoffman of a Florida teabagger group called DC Works for Us; "We don't even want money. We want people to contribute money directly to the candidates. A grass-roots movement doesn't even really need money and shouldn't really have money. To what end?"

To what end? Coordinated effort and targeted funding. Like it or not, elections are a game -- and I mean that in terms of competition. If there's going to be a winner and a loser, it's never incorrect to call it a game. I think people on both sides can agree that the person with the best ideas isn't always the person who wins. The candidate who wins is the one with the best resources and, if all things are roughly equal, the one who manages those resources wisely. It might be truer than you'd like to believe to say that elections aren't won, elections are lost. Giving money to candidates directly means that the big names -- i.e., the establishment -- get all the money. For a reformist movement, this is a stupid strategy.

But hey, no one ever accused teabaggers of genius. You don't confuse socialism and fascism if you're extremely well-informed and you don't misspell protest signs if you're overly-educated. No, these are people who believe that Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have their best interests at heart. And they ignore where the ideology of these hacks has brought them.

Financial Times:

The slow economic strangulation of... middle-class Americans started long before the Great Recession, which merely exacerbated the "personal recession" that ordinary Americans had been suffering for years. Dubbed "median wage stagnation" by economists, the annual incomes of the bottom 90 per cent of US families have been essentially flat since 1973 -- having risen by only 10 per cent in real terms over the past 37 years. That means most Americans have been treading water for more than a generation. Over the same period the incomes of the top 1 per cent have tripled. In 1973, chief executives were on average paid 26 times the median income. Now the ­multiple is above 300.

The trend has only been getting stronger. Most economists see the Great Stagnation as a structural problem -- meaning it is immune to the business cycle. In the last expansion, which started in January 2002 and ended in December 2007, the median US household income dropped by $2,000 -- the first ever instance where most Americans were worse off at the end of a cycle than at the start. Worse is that the long era of stagnating incomes has been accompanied by something profoundly un-American: declining income mobility.

You see it happening all around you. The America we built after WWII is dying off, replaced by a country that caters only to the wealthy. Supply-side economics -- Reagan's "trickle down theory" -- has failed to trickle down, even after giving it nearly four decades to work. The truth of the matter is that if you weight the economy toward the wealthy, they keep that money. And they keep it because wealthy people become wealthy by being wealth collectors. Otherwise, they're just like you are -- they aren't going to spend money they don't need to spend. This means they aren't going to hire people they don't need to hire and they aren't going to raise wages unless they absolutely have to. The idea of the rich as the wealth- and/or job-creators is a total myth... And we have a four decades long experiment to prove it.

But don't tell the teabagger that. They won't hear it. They know that all this crazy economic mumbo-jumbo will work if we just give it one more try. Another four or five decades maybe, and then you'll see. Barack Obama cut middle class taxes, but he doesn't want to extend the failed tax cuts for the rich, which means that he's a Communist! -- like Hitler. They know this, because they listen to fantastically wealthy people tell them that on the radio. The word you're looking for right now is "chumps."

No wonder the movement is dying under the weight of its own stinginess. These people really don't understand money at all.


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