Tea Parties


There is something about the Tea Party movement that I genuinely like.

The whole f$%^-the-government, we’re-gonna-do-this-ourselves philosophy rings true for me. The anger is legitimate and understandable, and I can appreciate the need to find a voice; to find your own voice.

And yet …

I can’t help but feel that most of these people are morons. They clamor for anti-establishment philosophies, then they pay Sarah Palin—former VP candidate; entrenched Republican—$100,000 to speak at their event. They bemoan the rich getting richer, yet they lean hard, hard, hard right, to a place where Republicans have been supplying the wealthiest among us with monstrous tax breaks for eons. They continue to question whether Barack Obama is a citizen; they gather up their guns and canned goods, just to stave off the inevitable political apocalypse. They think the White House is using the internet to infiltrate their minds.

I know … I know—I’m an elitist snob. But the Tea Party people just strike me as, well, really, really, really dumb. I mean, really dumb. Like, the-earth-is-flat and the-Bible-needs-to-be-taught-in-school and we-live-in-a-Christian-nation and global-warming-doesn’t-exist-and-never-ever-ever-will dumb.

So the fact that these people have an increasingly legitimate voice … it scares me.


PS: And, once again, where was all this anti-government anger when George W. was president?

PPS: An important point: I am by no means saying all conservatives or Republicans are idiots. I’m really not. I can respect a conservative philosophy of smaller government, lower taxes, etc. I don’t agree, but I can understand it. The Tea Party Movement, however, is neither nuanced nor intelligent.

17 thoughts on “Tea Parties”

  1. No, not all conservatives are idiots. But if you ARE an idiot, I think you are much more likely to be conservative than liberal.

    College educated people generally lean Democratic. There’s probably a good reason for that.

  2. Sarah Palin is a moron, but $100k is a small price to pay for the amount of publicity that Palin brought to the convention. Neither Republicans nor Democrats require intelligent voters – they just require voters.

    Also, tea partiers do not bemoan the rich getting richer. They bemoan the federal government giving handouts to everyone, which includes large financial institutions. And the whole “tax breaks for the wealthiest” argument is disingenuous: they still pay higher marginal tax rates than anyone, although i agree: lower taxes for all is generally preferable (so long as it’s coupled with lower spending).

    @Jim: That college-educated people lean left is a relatively recent phenomenon and it has generally occurred lock-step with academia’s general trend toward socialist sympathy.

  3. Classicist: your argument is disingenuous. If you factor in ALL federal taxes (Social Security & Medicare), and take into account that Social Security is capped, then the difference in % of taxes paid by the wealthiest as opposed to lower incomes is minimal at best.

  4. Sure, if you only look at federal income taxes, and ignore Social Security. That’s why Warren Buffet rightly points out that he, the richest man in the U.S. pays a lower % of his income on federal taxes than his secretary does (with cap gains having an effect as well).

  5. Jim, social security is 6.5% of the greater of taxable income and ~100k. So yes, lower earners pay a higher proportion of their total income to social security than higher earners, but higher earners still pay higher marginal taxes because their incrementally higher income is taxed at higher rates. So yes, you can argue that social security is “regressive” in that it’s eventually capped, but you may as well argue that each tax bracket is similarly regressive.

    As for Buffett, he wasn’t referring to social security. But anyway, most of his “income” is actually in the form of dividends and capital gains, as you point out. The thing is, dividends have already been taxed at the corporate level (~35%) and capital gains are taxed at 15%, even though whatever income used to purchase the capital asset in the first place was taxed according to federal income tax margins.

  6. “% of taxes paid by the wealthiest as opposed to lower incomes is minimal at best.”

    This is simply not true. The amount of taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans dwarfs that paid by lower incomes.

  7. Classicist: I meant by % of taxes paid as a % of one’s income, not % paid to the government over all. But you are correct, a better way for me to phrase it would be that Social Security minimizes (or reduces, if you prefer) the progressive effect.

  8. I think it is hard to prove that college educated people lean to the left. After all I would assume every republican in congress is college educated. (I know small sample size) But I think the difference is pretty small.

    As for Federal Taxes. While the rich are in the highest tax bracket after all their deductions they are hardly playing that high rate. I don’t know if this is true for the majority moderate income people. but a Daily Kos diarist wrote about his taxes. He and his wife made 90,000. After deductions his taxable income was just over 50,000. His taxes came to just over 6000. Just over a 6 per cent tax rate. Even if you can’t take any deductions you do get a standard deduction. What is really unfair is the social security tax being capped. Why does some rich guy have to stop paying in to social security after he makes 100,000? I am sure I read some where that corporations hardly pay their fair share of taxes.

  9. @Sanford: At the risk of you being a troll, I will attempt to answer.

    Deductions exist because the government thinks that certain expenses are legitimate enough such that you shouldn’t have to pay for them with post-tax income. Things like charitible donations, certain work expenses and certain education expenses (such as interest on student loans) can be deducted. Were it not for these deductions, then people would have to make often expensive purchases after taxes. This is unnecessarily punitive, so the government allows deductions.

    As for capping social security levies, it has to do with the fact that contributions are matched by employers. Furthermore, even though “some rich guy” stops paying, “some poor guy” will earn benefits well in excess of his own contributions.

  10. Actually, due to the cap and people living to their 100s, there are plenty of “rich guys” whose benefits are exceeding contributions. The cap should be raised.

  11. All I can say, Jeff, is that while I don’t agree with their politics, I certainly know many highly educated, highly intelligent people who are (gasp!) Republicans. My aunt is ridiculously intelligent, educated, highly successful — and a Republican who is active in the tea party movement. She really isn’t a moron. I don’t agree with a lot of what she does, but she isn’t a holy roller, she isn’t against gays, she just doesn’t want the government overstepping its bounds (in a nutshell). I know you make these statements in part to stir the pot, but you have to recognize that you are often offensive.

  12. I think the percentage the rich pay is kind of irrelevant. Since they have the money to hire the best tax folks, they all just hide some of their income with all of the loopholes placed in the tax law by other rich people. Therefore, I don’t think any tax cuts for the rich are ever necessary.

    As for Tea Partiers being stupid, I agree with that when it comes to the poor ones. They are fighting for things that are actually against their best interest and they apparently don’t understand that.

    The rich ones are greedy and are in the right place to make sure the rich keep getting richer. They are manipulating the poor ones into thinking they’re being “patriotic” while leaving out the sad truth about how they are screwing them.

  13. Beverly, as a poor person that has been to a couple of the tea parties, your generalization is wrong. I didn’t go because I was manipulated and I don’t think that I am working against my best interests. Some of us just actually believe in what that original tea partier Thomas Jefferson said, “The government that governs best governs least.” We believe that our problems can best be solved by ourselves, not by manipulations from a generally corrupt federal government.
    Also, not all of us went to the overpriced Sarah Palin shindig in Nashville, (Thanks to the wonderful job that this President has done managing this economy, most of us couldn’t afford to.) and not all of us even like Sarah Palin. We just have concerns about a government overreaching its bounds and spending our grandchildren into debt. I had similar concerns when Bush was president, by the way, but it does seem like Obama has accelerated this process, and that his schemes for the government to aggressively spend its way out of debt will be stunningly unsuccessful. I don’t think you have to be hateful or racist or uneducated or stupid or whatever other label that insecure government dependent liberals want to place on this relatively harmless movement to see that.

  14. how come when poor Republicans vote against their economic interests, it’s “What’s the Matter with Kansas” but when rich Democrats vote against their economic interests, they are enlightened?

  15. I agree, these people are –> the-earth-is-flat and it’s-not-a-person-it’s-a-choice and abort-babies-save-the-whales and animals-evolve-global-warming-is-causing-extinction dumb.

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