Skip

Not Editorializing
April 15, 2010 10:16 AM   Subscribe

Is the Tea Party movement politically active in your community? 50% of the Tea Party thinks so. 51% of the rest of the community says no. Explore what other agreements and disagreements the Tea Party has with the rest of the country.
posted by DU (240 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wouldn't say the TP is active in my neck of the woods. There have been a couple of rallies over the past year. They were pretty darn small, though. Still, their rhetoric is so portable, generically populist, I can easily see them organizing here.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:21 AM on April 15, 2010


Majority of Tea Party supporters say their income taxes are fair. 52% said it, compared to 62% of the American population.
posted by Damn That Television at 10:22 AM on April 15, 2010



Have you purchased gold coins or bars in the last twelve months?
5% of respondents answered Yes

Do you or anyone in your household own a gun?
31% of respondents answered Yes

Is anyone home right now? Do you generally lock your door? Do you own a large breed of dog?

posted by 2bucksplus at 10:24 AM on April 15, 2010 [31 favorites]


Who are the 6% who are Teabaggers who approve of Obama's treatment of the economy and healthcare?

Ah, yes. Curious liberals who join up to learn about the other side. You can tell them from a mile off because their signs have things like grammar and spelling.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:25 AM on April 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


50% of the Tea Party thinks so. 51% of the rest of the community says no.

At first glance, I was confused by this wording because it fails to account for the large numbers of people who responded don't know / no answer. Put another way: 50% of Tea Partiers think the movement is politically active in their community, compared with 21% in the general sample.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:26 AM on April 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Do Barack Obama’s policies are moving the country more toward socialism?
92% of TPers say yes. But do they consider that a good thing or a bad thing?
Are the benefits from government programs such as Social Security and Medicare worth the costs of those programs?
62% of TPers say yes.

I'm glad we agree: More socialism please, Mr Obama!
posted by DU at 10:28 AM on April 15, 2010 [18 favorites]


Well at least 1/9th of supreme court is an active participant in the Tea Party.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 10:28 AM on April 15, 2010


Do the views of the people involved in the Tea Party movement generally reflect the views of most Americans?

Tea Party: 84% Yes

Everybody else: 25% Yes

I would say there's a bit of a disconnect between what teabaggers think we think, and what we actually do think.
posted by contessa at 10:28 AM on April 15, 2010 [20 favorites]


The fact that 47% of tea partiers get their information about the tea party from TV is telling, I think.
posted by empath at 10:28 AM on April 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Unfortunately they are in my area.

I just watched Michelle Bachman at the Tea Party gathering today. Basically she said they're wrong we're right, I'm a victim of an attack this morning, re-elect me.

It's so transparent it's gross.

Why aren't these people shuffled away to 'free speech zones'?
posted by CarlRossi at 10:29 AM on April 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Some people say the country needs a third political party — a new party to compete with the Democratic and Republican parties. Do you agree or disagree?

40% of Tea Partiers agree. 46% of the general population agrees. Huh?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:29 AM on April 15, 2010


I would say there's a bit of a disconnect between what teabaggers think we think, and what we actually do think.

I think they just heard a different question:

Do the views of the people involved in the Tea Party movement generally reflect the views of mostReal Americans?
posted by DU at 10:30 AM on April 15, 2010 [10 favorites]


I would say there's a bit of a disconnect between what teabaggers think we think, and what we actually do think.

Black people, hispanics, gays, muslims, atheists, socialists, etc are not Americans.
posted by empath at 10:30 AM on April 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


jinx
posted by empath at 10:31 AM on April 15, 2010


DU HCR was originally called Romney-Care, Romney who was a major contender for the presidency, Romney who won the straw poll in the Southern Conservative Convention last week. Reagan originally proposed a 1/3rd reduction in nuclear arms in 1982, publicly, but when Obama does it, it's surrendering to the Russians. I could go on and on, but it seems to me that the tea baggers' biggest problem is not Obama's message, but who's delivering it. And it think it rhymes with, "mack blan in the mite whouse."
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 10:32 AM on April 15, 2010 [63 favorites]


Only 20% of the TP-er who were polled make more than $100K, most of them make less than $75K, but they are enraged at the idea of (80%) raising taxes on people who make more than $250K. I am just not understanding why they feel so strongly about something that does not affect them.
posted by anniecat at 10:32 AM on April 15, 2010 [18 favorites]


I just watched Michelle Bachman at the Tea Party gathering today. Basically she said they're wrong we're right, I'm a victim of an attack this morning, re-elect me

Her eyes look so crazy. I've been googling Michelle Bachman and plastic surgery and nothing I'm coming up with is a satisfying explanation of why her eyes are crazy.
posted by anniecat at 10:33 AM on April 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


nothing I'm coming up with is a satisfying explanation of why her eyes are crazy

It's the anti-fluorine pills.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:36 AM on April 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


I've been googling Michelle Bachman and plastic surgery and nothing I'm coming up with is a satisfying explanation of why her eyes are crazy.

"Because she is crazy" wasn't satisfying?
posted by empath at 10:36 AM on April 15, 2010 [25 favorites]


I count three uses of "tea partiers" so far in this thread. These guys aren't partiers. In my day, well, we partied. Let's stick to teabaggers.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:38 AM on April 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


Why aren't these people shuffled away to 'free speech zones'?

Because in post-Bush America, the whole land is a free speech zone. Which I find to be a major improvement, actually.
posted by contessa at 10:39 AM on April 15, 2010 [13 favorites]


I think they just heard a different question:

Do the views of the people involved in the Tea Party movement generally reflect the views of mostReal Americans?


I don't think this is necessarily the case. The really striking thing to me about the TPers has been that they seem to genuinely believe themselves to be a true popular movement in the classic sense, and to believe that a few oligarchs in Washington have genuinely forced a center-right health care plan through over the objections of what they think is an overwhelmingly far-right population.

The irony, of course, is that in this blinkered, out-of-touch cluelessness they have far more in common with the Washington insider class they despise than they do with the people for whom they claim to speak.
posted by enn at 10:40 AM on April 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


Talk about a manufactured tempest in a teapot. This entire "movement" was dreamed up in Roger Ailes' bedroom as a distracting front for the usual incoherent Fox News jingoism. Ailes and the usual right-wing smear operatives knew it would be easy to manufacture this thing. Invite a few rabble rousing lunatics to some town halls, have them shout down senators about "death panles," and, voila, an instant front for a proxy propaganda war was born. Treating a carnival show like this as if it were a legitimate party just shows how worthless the media has become. Indeed, the Tea Party bears about as much resemblance to a real, organic political movement as American Idol resembles the actual music industry: both instead represent funhouse mirrors of the mediasphere's active fantasy life, projecting as each does a kind of warped simulcra of old-fashioned "talent shows" and "political activism," but neither actually meshes with reality. Free donuts and a hundred people with misspelled banners about Obamacare do not an actual movement make. It's a media spectacle.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:41 AM on April 15, 2010 [37 favorites]


Why aren't these people shuffled away to 'free speech zones'?

I'd prefer to know if my neighbors are Teabaggers, frankly. When Palin calls on them to set up concentration camps for undesirables like me and my partner, it would be nice to know beforehand how much time I have to prepare.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:41 AM on April 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm with l33tpolicywonk. The stat example in the FPP is badly put together and misleading. It makes it sounds as if teabaggers have a realistic view of their popularity, when the actual report says the opposite.
posted by w0mbat at 10:42 AM on April 15, 2010


Huh, this is an interesting one:
In general, is your opinion of the Republican Party favorable?
In general, is your opinion of the Democratic Party favorable?
I'm not going to try to organize the numbers, just click through to find them, but my point is that the TPers seem more motivated by hatred of the Dems than love the Reps. Which is scary.
posted by DU at 10:43 AM on April 15, 2010


Any man will tell you he is a soldier. Ask to see his pack.

78% of people who identified as Tea Party supporters have neither been to a meeting or rally, nor donated money.

Take that with the 84% that think their beliefs reflect the majority of Americans.

That's pretty much what everyone needs to know about the Tea Party.
posted by discountfortunecookie at 10:45 AM on April 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


I think most of Michele Bachman's precious bodily fluids have been drained by the communi socialists and that's why she has crazy eyes. They just need to be topped off.
posted by Babblesort at 10:46 AM on April 15, 2010


Re: Free Speech Zones

I can't have a little revenge? Just a little? A weensy bit?
posted by CarlRossi at 10:47 AM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Careful look at the poll shows this: a large percentage of TP folks simply do not like Obama but for no particular reason...could it be race?

My fave among tea party bumper sticker slogans: take back the govt. Ok. And give it to? and do what with it?
The TP will be I think important in an election, but clearly they represent a conservative voice, and so either they will have substantial choice in who will and will not run for GOP, or they will divvy up the votes and mess up the GOP. Third parties just do not make it in America, and the TP is clearly right of center, in fact very right of center.

I suspect too that a lot of the anti-health numbers reflect the idea that lots of people without health insurance are now going to have it...am I paying for it? sort of like welfare bums who get free ride. Remember that charge?
posted by Postroad at 10:48 AM on April 15, 2010


Not all Tea Partiers are the same, as seen from a potential top priority for the Tea Party Express. TPE is the creation of a Republican consulting firm, whereas Tea Party Patriots are more of the grass-roots folks, at least by comparison.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:49 AM on April 15, 2010


Tea Partiers / Teabaggers / whatever.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:51 AM on April 15, 2010


I am just not understanding why they feel so strongly about something that does not affect them.

[This is a serious answer.] Its an aspirational thing. They can picture themselves easily in that tax bracket, and aspire to that tax bracket - its "the American dream". And so they are planning ahead for the day when that tax does affect them.
posted by anastasiav at 10:51 AM on April 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


I am just not understanding why they feel so strongly about something that does not affect them.

Sleep is where I'm a Viking Oil Baron!
posted by backseatpilot at 10:51 AM on April 15, 2010 [11 favorites]


Careful look at the poll shows this: a large percentage of TP folks simply do not like Obama but for no particular reason...could it be race?

Tea baggers to a person will say that it's because of his policies, and more than that, many are convinced that there are a significant number of teabaggers that VOTED for him.
posted by empath at 10:52 AM on April 15, 2010


I am just not understanding why they feel so strongly about something that does not affect them.

You mean like gay marriage, people worshipping other gods, folks speaking foreign languages, black people wearing their hair natural, or women getting to choose for themselves what they do with their bodies?

They're just upset about their perceived property rights.
posted by yeloson at 10:54 AM on April 15, 2010 [27 favorites]


Ramen. Let them talk wherever and however they like.
posted by Skorgu at 10:56 AM on April 15, 2010


And so they are planning ahead for the day when that tax does affect them.

I doubt this for many reasons. A much more likely explanation is a willingness (either because of gullibility, perceived social connection, racism etc) to believe a line fed to you buy someone who is affected by raising taxes on the rich.
posted by DU at 10:57 AM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Explore what other agreements and disagreements the Tea Party has with the rest of the country.

What century we are living in.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:59 AM on April 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


I don't think this is necessarily the case. The really striking thing to me about the TPers has been that they seem to genuinely believe themselves to be a true popular movement in the classic sense, and to believe that a few oligarchs in Washington have genuinely forced a center-right health care plan through over the objections of what they think is an overwhelmingly far-right population.

So, there's a Tea Party Rally outside my office building today and I went by the gawk a bit. At some point, I was handed a "Exclusive Tea Party Sneak Peak" of some book called Underdogma ,which seems to be about how idolizing the "under dog" weakens American 'cause we're so big and powerful. Now obviously, I get how this fits in with the Tea Party glorification of American Exceptionalism, but seriously, what kind of populist movement identifies exclusively with the powerful? It's mind warping.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:00 AM on April 15, 2010 [15 favorites]


I've been googling Michelle Bachman and plastic surgery and nothing I'm coming up with is a satisfying explanation of why her eyes are crazy.

She bases her personal style on the dying horse in Picasso's Guernica painting.

Exhibit a: The horse
Exhibit b: Michele Bachmann

I rest my case.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:01 AM on April 15, 2010 [39 favorites]


40% of Tea Partiers agree. 46% of the general population agrees. Huh?

I'm actually surprised both of those numbers aren't higher. I think there's a lot of people who want a viable third party. They just don't agree on where in the political spectrum the party should be.
posted by graventy at 11:03 AM on April 15, 2010


Or perhaps Bat Boy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:04 AM on April 15, 2010 [10 favorites]


considering 80% of teabaggers can't tell fact from fiction, and the other 20% find it useful to pretend they can't, i don't get why poling is valid here.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 11:04 AM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Only 20% of the TP-er who were polled make more than $100K, most of them make less than $75K, but they are enraged at the idea of (80%) raising taxes on people who make more than $250K. I am just not understanding why they feel so strongly about something that does not affect them.

Because they believe in their ideology, and they believe in the 'American Dream' (and that they might one day attain it), and they believe that these things make our country great. Just like how I (and probably you) make decent money, but still support our tax dollar being spent on safety nets for people who aren't us. I doubt all your politics align with your own personal interests, and that's probably a good thing.

I'm not going to try to organize the numbers, just click through to find them, but my point is that the TPers seem more motivated by hatred of the Dems than love the Reps. Which is scary.

No, not scary. The whole reason I vote democrat is my disgust with the GOP.

I was very pleased to see the NYTimes actually try to tell us something real about what tea partiers (sorry, adamdschneider, I think "teabagger" is about as funny as "dumb-o-crats") think and what kind of people they are. I'm really tired of just slapping a "racism" label on people we don't like, to give us permission to stop listening. If we're going to take Bin Laden at his word about his goals, rather than accusing him of "hating freedom," I think we can extend that courtesy to fellow citizens.

Personally, I'm deeply disgusted with people like Palin and Bachman, but I think one has to distinguish between leadership and rank-and-file. The standard tea partier is a person with some lofty ideals who has, in my opinion, taken them way too far, and allowed themselves to be deluded. You could say the same thing about Communists.

I know I look like I'm bending over backwards to be politically moderate, but I think it actually helps to try to understand the other side as people who aren't totally hateful and ignorant, especially when they aren't. I think there are some egregiously foolish things about this movement, but I'm sure that I'm dead wrong about an issue or two. Well, hopefully not as egregiously.
posted by Edgewise at 11:06 AM on April 15, 2010 [17 favorites]


No, not scary. The whole reason I vote democrat is my disgust with the GOP.

Well, OK, good point. However, neither of us (I assume) brings guns to demonstrations denouncing the GOP nor do we send threat letters. Meaning the scary part isn't so much that they are motivated by disgust at the other side but that they are willing to kill over it.
posted by DU at 11:09 AM on April 15, 2010


Now obviously, I get how this fits in with the Tea Party glorification of American Exceptionalism, but seriously, what kind of populist movement identifies exclusively with the powerful?

A very confused one?

They remind me of 1970s left-wing vanguardist splinter groups going on about propaganda of the deed, convinced that the masses were really on their side but didn't know it yet, ready to develop class consciousness and storm the halls of power if only the right spark could be found to set them off. But instead of expecting a sudden flowering of working-class consciousness, they're expecting that all of us will see the light and start identifying ourselves with the ruling class. It's very strange.
posted by enn at 11:11 AM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


If health care reform hadn't passed, I think the Teabaggers might have been a net detriment to Democrats in the Fall. They would have been able to appear (to some people) to have accomplished something.

As it is, I think they just seem angry and kind of weird, to most people in the center. I guess we'll find out soon.
posted by gurple at 11:12 AM on April 15, 2010


I doubt this for many reasons. A much more likely explanation is a willingness (either because of gullibility, perceived social connection, racism etc) to believe a line fed to you buy someone who is affected by raising taxes on the rich.

The line being fed to them by the rich specifically IS that they will one day be rich as well. That's how they stay nipping at the baited line being trawled by people much more powerful... dreams that one day they will climb the line and be in charge of the fishing boat, instead of the reality that they will eventually be scooped out, bashed against a rock, and devoured by those in charge.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:12 AM on April 15, 2010


Careful look at the poll shows this: a large percentage of TP folks simply do not like Obama but for no particular reason...could it be race?


@postroad - I think it's just as likely to be because the people they choose to listen to i.e Fox & friends have told them over and over and over again to hate him for x,y & z. They hated Clinton too...
posted by zeoslap at 11:13 AM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY
WHO CARES IF THE GRAPH SAYS ANYTHING OR MAKES ANY SENSE LETS JUST TALK ABOUT THE TEA PARTY TEA PARTY TEA PARTY .

seriously, can we stop giving these racist moron leeches airtime now?
posted by sexyrobot at 11:14 AM on April 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Treating a carnival show like this as if it were a legitimate party just shows how worthless the media has become. Indeed, the Tea Party bears about as much resemblance to a real, organic political movement as American Idol resembles the actual music industry: both instead represent funhouse mirrors of the mediasphere's active fantasy life, projecting as each does a kind of warped simulcra of old-fashioned "talent shows" and "political activism," but neither actually meshes with reality. Free donuts and a hundred people with misspelled banners about Obamacare do not an actual movement make. It's a media spectacle.

except where is this *genuine* political movement to contrast with? I can't think of anything. You might have argued that Obama's election represented such a thing, but the 'people power' aspect of that campaign was pretty extensively managed by his professional staff ala American Idol... and the proof is in the pudding: he certainly hasn't governed as if he had a mass political movement behind him.

It's all a spectacle, there's nothing solid in there just endless onion-layers of hype...
posted by ennui.bz at 11:14 AM on April 15, 2010


Now obviously, I get how this fits in with the Tea Party glorification of American Exceptionalism, but seriously, what kind of populist movement identifies exclusively with the powerful? It's mind warping.

I think it's a mistake to try to find some coherent set of positions that "the tea party" supports, or an overarching philosophy that unites the movement. I think you'll run into a pretty broad diversity of opinions. The one uniting thing seems to be a deficit hawkishness. I think it's good that there's a fiscally conservative movement in the Republican party; after the last Republican administration, which basically pretended that debt didn't matter, this is a much-needed intraparty response.

I don't think Democratic candidates have much to worry from the tea party. Many of these people are simply anti-Democrat and pissed off that Dems are in power now. They wouldn't be voting for a Democratic candidate anyway.

One thing that we should be aware of is that many of the offensive posters we see at these protests aren't really from the core tea party supporters. The whole Obama-as-Hitler thing is a LaRouchie meme, and it's LaRouchies that show up to these protests with the most offensive signs. They'll show up whenever there's crowd.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:14 AM on April 15, 2010


...what kind of populist movement identifies exclusively with the powerful?

don't get me wrong--some of my best friends are dirt-poor illiterates--but you have to admit it's entertaining when they get riled up about the death tax.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 11:15 AM on April 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Only 20% of the TP-er who were polled make more than $100K, most of them make less than $75K, but they are enraged at the idea of (80%) raising taxes on people who make more than $250K. I am just not understanding why they feel so strongly about something that does not affect them.

There is a mental pandemic among Americans; a shockingly large number of us believe that we will someday, perhaps sooner, perhaps later, be rich. Everybody we see on TV is rich. All of the concerns that the news and magazines show us are the concerns of people who are rich. And hell, there's an entire protestant tendency- the prosperity gospel- that tells people that by being pious, they will become rich.

As far as they can tell, they are rich. That they are not, in fact, wealthy is of little consequence; they're going to be rich, soon, despite the fact that they're doing nothing which has any chance of making that happen, and any trouble in between now and then is just a temporary setback. If it wasn't so destructive, it'd be either tragic or hilarious; as it is, the cult of wealth makes people fucking crazy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:16 AM on April 15, 2010 [24 favorites]


I am just not understanding why they feel so strongly about something that does not affect them.

I read it here some time ago – these people are obsessed with imaginary taxes on their daydreams, is what it boils down to. Lovely phrase, somebody should track down its origin.
posted by Mister_A at 11:16 AM on April 15, 2010 [19 favorites]


I think it's good that there's a fiscally conservative movement in the Republican party; after the last Republican administration, which basically pretended that debt didn't matter, this is a much-needed intraparty response.

The Republican party has always been fiscally conservative when out of power
posted by DU at 11:17 AM on April 15, 2010 [21 favorites]


One thing that we should be aware of is that many of the offensive posters we see at these protests aren't really from the core tea party supporters. The whole Obama-as-Hitler thing is a LaRouchie meme, and it's LaRouchies that show up to these protests with the most offensive signs. They'll show up whenever there's crowd.

You'd think it would be a bit of a wake-up call when people keep confusing LaRouchies with members of your chosen political movement.
posted by enn at 11:17 AM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the phrase we're looking for is Confirmation Bias. In politics, people have a dangerous tendency to extrapolate their own beliefs onto the entire population.

Meanwhile, as the Republicans lead cheers of "Taxation Without Representation," they're planning to filibuster DC voting rights next week. Oh the irony!
posted by schmod at 11:17 AM on April 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


and the proof is in the pudding: he certainly hasn't governed as if he had a mass political movement behind him.

Except that from what I saw, he said he wasn't going to govern that way. In fact, wasn't the speech that got people talking about him being president exactly that - him saying there weren't two Americas?
posted by cashman at 11:22 AM on April 15, 2010


Meanwhile, as the Republicans lead cheers of "Taxation Without Representation," they're planning to filibuster DC voting rights next week. Oh the irony!

Oh that irony was in full effect at the rally I wandered around, because it was down in Freedom Plaza in DC, across the street from the D.C. Government electronic sign decrying the lack of D.C. representation.

I also loved that in a plaza full of people complaining about how hard they worked for the money their government was stealing, the only people actually at work that day were the homeless people selling Street Sense.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:23 AM on April 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Something else to consider, we're always hurf-durfing at the Tea Party because of the idiots with the signs, but consider:

Have you supported the Tea Party movement by ...
Attended rally or meeting 13
Neither 78


That means that 78% of Tea Party supporters aren't out there with signs - we're doing a lot of judging by the actions of 13% of them. Honestly, we don't know who they are. Hell, they don't really know who they are. That's why the poll is a good thing.
posted by charred husk at 11:24 AM on April 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


I would say there's a bit of a disconnect between what teabaggers think we think, and what we actually do think.

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but I think you could substitute "mefites" with "teabaggers" and the sentence would still be just as accurate.
posted by Slap Factory at 11:25 AM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


You'd think it would be a bit of a wake-up call when people keep confusing LaRouchies with members of your chosen political movement.

Well, I think some of the confusion is willful obtuseness, frankly. We want to see these people as racist idiots, so it's easy to see some moronic poster and yell, "Hey, look at the racist idiots!" It's also a function of the fact that the tea party doesn't have a clearly articulated manifesto or set of policy goals; it's easy to project things onto them. Mostly, though, I think they're just the core Republican demographic responding to the Democrats being in power, which they hate.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:27 AM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Speaking of... the best fake teabagger signs at the Boston Common.
posted by howling fantods at 11:27 AM on April 15, 2010


Has anyone else noticed that some of these people are starting to wear the "racist" badge with pride? Evidence: A, B, counter-evidence?
posted by backseatpilot at 11:29 AM on April 15, 2010


I'm not the first person to say that this whole thing stinks of benefiting from things for years, and now wanting to take your ball and go home so that nobody else can benefit from anything. In a nutshell its these knuckleheads who go on about how they did it themselves using the library, or did it themselves after going on welfare, while simultaneously decrying social services like welfare and the library. Somewhere at the core, yes, it is a distinct us versus them thing, pretty obviously triggered by the otherness of the president.
posted by cashman at 11:29 AM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Only 20% of the TP-er who were polled make more than $100K, most of them make less than $75K, but they are enraged at the idea of (80%) raising taxes on people who make more than $250K. I am just not understanding why they feel so strongly about something that does not affect them.

Seriously?

Is it inconceivable to you that their positions are based on what they consider to be good macroeconomic policy? Or maybe their own notions of fairness? Or even an aspirational idea that in their own lifetimes, they will find themselves in the higher tax bracket?
posted by Slap Factory at 11:29 AM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


graventy: I'm actually surprised both of those numbers aren't higher.

I'm certainly surprised the tea party number isn't higher. Obviously, a lot's been said upthread about the intellectual inconsistencies in their platform, but I took for granted that at the very least, tea partiers wanted to throw all the bastards out. The primary challenges by J.D. Hayworth et al are all ostensibly tea party initiatives to challenge existing Republican dogma. Except, not only are a majority of tea partiers happy with the two parties we have, but they are actually less likely than the person on the street to want those parties challenged in a significant way. Throw all the bastards out, and replace them with who?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 11:31 AM on April 15, 2010


Is it inconceivable to you that their positions are based on what they consider to be good macroeconomic policy? Or maybe their own notions of fairness?

Yes, I believe several people have already advanced the hypothesis that TPers may be idiots.

We've already tried feudalism and it wasn't a good macroeconomic policy OR fair.
posted by DU at 11:32 AM on April 15, 2010


DU: but my point is that the TPers seem more motivated by hatred of the Dems than love the Reps. Which is scary.
I'm surprised anyone is surprised by this. I thought the Tea Partiers had made this much clear.

Hasn't the American right been trying for decades to cobble together a majority coalition from a spectrum of single-issue-voter types, people who are motivated by disparate, even orthogonal causes? "Rage at the Other" is one of the few ways of getting them all worked up in unison, and indeed the right's political fortunes have risen with the success of rage media.

I expect this is one reason Tea Parties don't seem to convey any coherent message. Even if the signs were all spelled impeccably, they'd all say different things.
posted by Western Infidels at 11:33 AM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Have you supported the Tea Party movement by ...
Donated money 2 %
Attended rally or meeting 13%
Neither 78%

Where do you get most of your information about the Tea Party movement?
Internet 24 %
E-mail 4
Meetings 1
Phone calls 1
Television 47
Newspapers 8
Other source 11


This looks to me like:

"I'm really angry! But I'm not going to do anything much about it! I watch TV, and GRAR!"
posted by Miko at 11:36 AM on April 15, 2010 [10 favorites]


The only TeaParty I get is in my inbox from the crazy grandparents-in-law from Arizona. Gotta love Snopes to debunk 99% of the shit they send me.
posted by stormpooper at 11:37 AM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


We've already tried feudalism and it wasn't a good macroeconomic policy OR fair.

I don't see how opposition to increasing taxes on those earning more that $250,000 a year is related to feudalism. This piece of rhetoric seems similar to calling Obama a fascist for supporting health care reform.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:37 AM on April 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yes, I believe several people have already advanced the hypothesis that TPers may be idiots.

According to the NYTimes article:

"Tea Party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public, and are no more or less afraid of falling into a lower socioeconomic class, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll."

But, whatever. Idiots, feudalists, sure.
posted by Slap Factory at 11:37 AM on April 15, 2010


Well, I think some of the confusion is willful obtuseness, frankly.

not this. while indeed not all teabaggers are racist idiots, they are perfectly willing to accept the suport of racist idiots; you'll hear them deny it about themselves, but you won't hear them say racist idiots aren't welcome. this was what was scary about what palin was doing during the election, basically bringing back what southern politicians have long done--keeping the door open just wide enough to court them. it wasn't just that some racist idiots heard 'community organizer' and thought 'uppity nigger'; it was also that her people had counted on it.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 11:39 AM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have met many a well-educated moron in my time, slap factory.
posted by absalom at 11:43 AM on April 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


I just walked through a small scrum of 'Baggers on the way back from lunch. One had a sign stating "It's We The People, Not We The Congress." And it hit me. I honestly, not being snarky, think they don't know the difference between representational democracy and mob rule.
posted by JoanArkham at 11:43 AM on April 15, 2010 [11 favorites]


I know we disagree about how many common words are spelled.
posted by mecran01 at 11:44 AM on April 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


I don't see how opposition to increasing taxes on those earning more that $250,000 a year is related to feudalism.

One of them sacrifices the working class for the pleasure of the ruling elite and the other one is feudalism.
posted by DU at 11:46 AM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do the views of the people involved in the Tea Party movement generally reflect the views of most Americans?

extensive research this is not
posted by rebent at 11:47 AM on April 15, 2010




My column today, Daily Glean, was mostly about how I think the Tea party is getting a lot more attention than it has earned. They represent a small, minority viewpoint that even they can't articulate very well, their protests are pretty sparsely attended, they get their facts wrong, and they have no clear agenda or idea of how to act on it.

So why so much attention?

I dunno. The misspelled signs and racism, in part, maybe. But it's not great for democracy to put them in the limelight more than they have actually earned, because I think they have a very real political function, which is why the right wing has been bankrolled: They're theater, and the role they're playing is the average American who is outraged by Obama. The Republican Party gives them just enough encouragement to keep making noise, but not enough of anything to make them an actual threat (unless, and this is possible, one of them goes off his rocker and starts killing people). And this allows the Republican party to justify their obstructionist tactics by saying, look, do you see, average Americans don't want this! Look at HOW ANGRY THEY ARE AT OBAMA! We're just trying to take care of the legitimate concerns they are expressing, which the Democrats, lattes in hand and Marx in their back pockets, sneer at.

When the Tea Parties have a demonstration that attracts a quarter million people, call me. Until then, they are a useful fringe, and I am not that interested in helping the Republicans create a fiction of dissent.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:50 AM on April 15, 2010 [34 favorites]


I could not agree more with you Astro Zombie.
posted by Mister_A at 11:54 AM on April 15, 2010


Can we call them teabaggers again? That was more fun...
posted by subaruwrx at 11:58 AM on April 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


No, calling them teabaggers is an insult to people who enjoy putting their balls in people's mouths.
posted by Mister_A at 11:59 AM on April 15, 2010 [16 favorites]


Is it inconceivable to you that their positions are based on what they consider to be good macroeconomic policy? Or maybe their own notions of fairness? Or even an aspirational idea that in their own lifetimes, they will find themselves in the higher tax bracket?

If a single Tea Partier were advancing any line of reasoning that had any hint of actual macroeconomics in it -- or any line of logic, period -- you might be onto something.

As far as fairness goes, the quote I keep coming back to is this one:

Some defended being on Social Security while fighting big government by saying that since they had paid into the system, they deserved the benefits.

Others could not explain the contradiction.

“That’s a conundrum, isn’t it?” asked Jodine White, 62, of Rocklin, Calif. “I don’t know what to say. Maybe I don’t want smaller government. I guess I want smaller government and my Social Security.” She added, “I didn’t look at it from the perspective of losing things I need. I think I’ve changed my mind.”


Many of these people seem, as this woman does, to seek to reduce their cognitive dissonance by wearing it as a badge of honor.

But, whatever. Idiots, feudalists, sure.

Some of them may be better-educated than the norm, but some of them also apparently have done nothing to combat the clear evidence that they left their education behind them not many years after they got their degrees, if indeed they got any education. There seems to be next to no desire to engage with anything that questions received wisdom (i.e. FOX News talking points).

There also is a strong anti-intellectual bent that animates many of them. If they are not idiots, they do a great job of hiding it.
posted by blucevalo at 12:01 PM on April 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


So if these dolts want to bitch about spending then why don't address the $700 million a day we're flushing away in Iraq and Afghanistan! Where were they when Bush decided to wage that war? They were at fucking Denny's eating fried hot dogs and putting American flags on their bumpers. That's how I know they're not serious ( either that or just plain stupid) , they oppose health care but support a needless war that we're still paying for and was designed by the party who is now exploiting them.
posted by Liquidwolf at 12:03 PM on April 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


If a single Tea Partier were advancing any line of reasoning that had any hint of actual macroeconomics in it -- or any line of logic, period -- you might be onto something.

I heard one on the radio arguing this morning who stated that her major concern was inflation resulting from large government debts, accrued over the past ten years.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:04 PM on April 15, 2010


The fact that 47% of tea partiers get their information about the tea party from TV is telling, I think.
posted by empath


This struck me as particularly interesting as well, especially considering that--according to the poll--only 37% of the teabaggers trust information given to them via television.
posted by kaiseki at 12:05 PM on April 15, 2010


[This is a serious answer.] Its an aspirational thing. They can picture themselves easily in that tax bracket, and aspire to that tax bracket - its "the American dream". And so they are planning ahead for the day when that tax does affect them.

It's a social, rather than economic aspiration. If I start making $250,000+/yr, I'll be way too overjoyed about the fact that I make all that money to start complaining about the tax rates on income above that point. However, if I want to talk and act like I "fit in" with people at those income levels, then it sounds like a good idea to start complaining about those rates now.
posted by deanc at 12:09 PM on April 15, 2010 [5 favorites]



When the Tea Parties have a demonstration that attracts a quarter million people, call me. Until then, they are a useful fringe, and I am not that interested in helping the Republicans create a fiction of dissent.


Like I've said before 300, 000 people marched in New York in 2003 to protest the Iraq War but the media barely mentioned it. Yet every time the "tea party" gets three people together on a lawn the media goes crazy over it. Is this the same "liberal media" I've heard so much about?
posted by Liquidwolf at 12:09 PM on April 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


Yesterday on NPR, I caught an interview with some Tea Party mucketymuck from Ohio who was attending the big Tea Party soiree in Boston. She wasn't some street-level protester, but involved with the hierarchy somehow.

Almost everything she said was Sarah-Palin-stupid.

But the kicker for me was when the interviewer asked her how she squared her opinion that taxes were exploding with the fact that taxes have been lowered for the vast majority of citizens.

Her response? "I don't believe that. I don't believe taxes have been lowered."

This is typical with these types - facts aren't as important as beliefs. It's no wonder they fall for the "truthiness" campaigns.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:10 PM on April 15, 2010 [23 favorites]


This struck me as particularly interesting as well, especially considering that--according to the poll--only 37% of the teabaggers trust information given to them via television.

I'm sure they don't consider Fox News to be TV. It's just godly truth beamed down into their living rooms.

True Story: My dad said he doesn't trust Bill O'Reilly now that he's gone liberal.
posted by empath at 12:13 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


What if you came home from, say college, or your house on the opposite coast, and you discovered your mom was not at home because...she was at a Tea Bag gathering?
posted by Postroad at 12:15 PM on April 15, 2010


Seriously if you guys just thought about the math for a second you would realize that the Tea Party's 15 minutes does not require this many Five Minute Hates.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:15 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Her response? "I don't believe that. I don't believe taxes have been lowered."

This is typical with these types - facts aren't as important as beliefs. It's no wonder they fall for the "truthiness" campaigns.


Repeated for truth.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:16 PM on April 15, 2010


Repeated for truth.

Not that I haven't seen similar interviews a la the Palin book signing, but does anybody have a link to that audio?
posted by cashman at 12:20 PM on April 15, 2010


Am I wrong, or does it seem like everyone (or almost everyone) in this and every other Tea Party thread is saying the same thing and repeating the same jokes? I honestly don't know much about the TP, so I'd like to hear a Mefite take the other side, to read a respectful debate, and to leave the Blue better informed.

Perhaps there is no such Mefite (excepting St. Alia...), or perhaps he/she is just afraid of rocking the boat. I don't know. Sorry for the derail...
posted by MarshallPoe at 12:23 PM on April 15, 2010


I think there are plenty of people in here who obviously found the poll somewhat enlightening. I did.
posted by Big_B at 12:26 PM on April 15, 2010


Check out this story from today's Onion - mind boggling.
posted by cashman at 12:29 PM on April 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


Cashman, I can't find a link but I heard that story and exact quote this morning. It really stuck in my head. I mean...how do you argue with that?
posted by JoanArkham at 12:32 PM on April 15, 2010


The thing is, MarshallPoe, there really is an excellent case to be made for reducing government spending; but it just doesn't ring true, to suddenly attack a $100 billion/year spend on healthcare, for pete's sake, when you've either ignored or applauded $250 billion per year, or thereabouts, for the wars (and this is over and above "normal" DOD budget). The timing is suspicious, to say the least–which is a shame, as I would really love to see government spending curtailed. Also, look at the programs that teaparty people rail against–not a one of 'em that I've seen is saying, "Cut the defense budget!" It's all, "no healthcare for aliens," and crazy outlier crap like that, and it all ends up looking like a big axe-grind, which it is.
posted by Mister_A at 12:34 PM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can we call them teabaggers again? That was more fun...

With proper encouragement, maybe they'll aspire to be warm, fuzzy and help people fill their mouths.

As all nuts should be.
posted by yeloson at 12:35 PM on April 15, 2010


Also, put me down for "pissed off about bank bailouts." If that makes me a teapartyist, so be it!
posted by Mister_A at 12:35 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


>> Check out this story from today's Onion - mind boggling.

The story's punchline-- its final quote-- is quite something.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:36 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm the one who doesn't have a great grasp of what it means to be Middle class, but should 3% of TP's and 2% of everyone be making 6 figures and claiming to be middle class?

What class would you describe yourself?
Upper class 3% 2%
Upper-middle 15% 10%
Middle 50% 40%

Income
More than $100,000 20% 14%
posted by jermsplan at 12:37 PM on April 15, 2010


I am just not understanding why they feel so strongly about something that does not affect them.

It's not that. Tea partiers have exhibited no understanding whatsoever regarding the simple math of marginal tax brackets. Permit me to link to DU's fabulous even-a-third-grader-could-grasp-it explanation of effective tax rates.

For example, a person earning $250,000 (to pick a popular figure) would pay just about $67,600 in tax -- or 27%. Increasing the bracket they are in by 1% in taxes (33% to 34%) would equate to an additional $800 in tax, and barely increases the effective share of tax they pay.

The reason none of this matters is because all the protesters think they pay 50% in tax already.
posted by contessa at 12:40 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


The couple, who rely on Medicaid for their health care, were also upset about the nation’s new health reforms.

When asked why her family used state-subsidized health care when she criticized people who take handouts, Valerie Shirk said she did not want to stop having children, and that her husband’s income was not enough to cover the family with private insurance.

“I know there’s a dichotomy because of what we get from the state,’’ she said. “But I just look at each of my children as a blessing.’’


There may never be a more perfect summary of "fuck you got mine."
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:40 PM on April 15, 2010 [33 favorites]


I honestly don't know much about the TP, so I'd like to hear a Mefite take the other side, to read a respectful debate, and to leave the Blue better informed.

Malkin's blog is tea party central.

Or maybe you can find some intelligent commentary over at Hot Air.

Or maybe the Free Republic is more your speed.

I think you'll find that the chances of engaging in an intelligent conversation with anybody who identifies with this group is pretty slim.
posted by empath at 12:41 PM on April 15, 2010


Some perspective on the tea party demographic:
-Two thirds of U.S. adults age 60 and over have inadequate or marginal literacy skills, and 81% of patients age 60 and older at a public hospital could not read or understand basic materials such as prescription labels.
-Reading abilities are typically three to five grade levels below the last year of school completed. Therefore, people with a high school diploma, typically read at a seventh or eighth grade reading level.

I do readability tests with the general public on informational leaflets - risk management type stuff. If I need my test to pass I have to avoid the 60+ demographic - a lot of them are unlikely to actually read the leaflet in front of them. And they often make incorrect assumptions because they've already seen/read leaflets of the sort before.
I don't think many tea partiers are amazed or humbled by something they've read lately.
posted by Ellie Higginbottom at 12:41 PM on April 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


Check out this story from today's Onion - mind boggling.

When I read on Metafilter from people who deny the Teabaggers are racists and homophobes, it just makes me want to spit. Their hate is so well fucking documented I can't believe that someone would deny reality that way.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:43 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I honestly don't know much about the TP, so I'd like to hear a Mefite take the other side, to read a respectful debate, and to leave the Blue better informed.

one of my disappointments about the republicans is that they have been too happy to let the idiot fringe carry water for them rather than stand up for some intelligent debate. i actually think it makes the democrats weaker and adds to their disorganization that they don't have a rational opposition to challenge them. my hope was that following the election republicans would see this as a losing strategy and start to jettison some of the garbage and become part of a legitimate process; but it is only gotten worse.

i don't know that rational debate can come out of the tea party movement because it seems to have been founded on a defiant and almost gleeful embrace of illogic. they reward and elevate the dumbest and most dishonest among them, and they seem to take pride in this, as if there were some implicit goal to undermine the value of all political discourse rather than engage in it. their opponents cannot formulate an argument against them because there is no way to form an argument against a vague and fluid set of grievances built on false premises.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 12:43 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


... as if there were some implicit goal to undermine the value of all political discourse rather than engage in it.

It wouldn't surprise me if there isn't some truth to that with people at the Frank Lutz level.

( If you can get people to the polls with a visceral appeal only, why bother with logic? Beats working and thinking and stuff.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:52 PM on April 15, 2010


It's safe to say that 0% of the people in surveys who identify as upper class actually ARE upper class. Actual upper class people don't sit around completing phone surveys.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:56 PM on April 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


Not that I haven't seen similar interviews a la the Palin book signing, but does anybody have a link to that audio?

Here you go.

And the lady was Christen Varley, the president of the Greater Boston Tea Party.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:56 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I honestly don't know much about the TP, so I'd like to hear a Mefite take the other side, to read a respectful debate, and to leave the Blue better informed.

You mean you want all of the things to happen that the Tea Party is so vehemently and vociferously against?
posted by blucevalo at 12:57 PM on April 15, 2010


Two thirds of U.S. adults age 60 and over have inadequate or marginal literacy skills, and 81% of patients age 60 and older at a public hospital could not read or understand basic materials such as prescription labels.

That's just stunning. I dug a little deeper into literacy skills in older adults, and what I found is extremely depressing. Good God. However, it explains how, week after week, year after year, people in this age group manage not to discover Snopes.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:58 PM on April 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think you'll find that the chances of engaging in an intelligent conversation with anybody who identifies with this group is pretty slim.

Frankly, I think the chances of engaging in an intelligent conversation online with anyone who has a very different set of beliefs is pretty slim. Much less on a politically partisan website. If you really want to have that kind of dialog, you have to forgo the internet and talk face to face.

For instance, I had such a conversation with my landlord (that could have gone badly!) a couple of weeks back. about healthcare. It was very respectful, and we both made our points. I'm not sure that either of us went away with a different opinion; I certainly didn't. However, it was probably useful for us to both see that the opposition consisted of decent people with good intentions. If he was a raving racist, he probably would have had a problem with my wife.

I did score a decent point for our side, though. He said "Imagine that you're taking a class, and the professor announces that all the grades in the class will be averaged. There would be no incentive to strive!" My response was that I felt a better analogy was that anyone who gets an "F" is going to die, and the professor asks for some of the best students to donate a few points off their final grade to stop this from happening. I think that might have resonated with him.
posted by Edgewise at 1:04 PM on April 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Actual upper class people don't sit around completing phone surveys.

Maybe they pay their servants to be Tea Baggers on their behalf?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:05 PM on April 15, 2010


Frankly, I think the chances of engaging in an intelligent conversation online with anyone who has a very different set of beliefs is pretty slim.

I am willing to have a respectful conversation about different interpretations of shared facts. There is no discussion at all when one side doesn't actually know the facts, and rejects them when they are pointed out.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:05 PM on April 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


I think 'teabagger' is about as funny as 'dumb-o-crats'

The difference is that these people initially chose to call themselves teabaggers, and hung teabags on their heads before they figured out the name they'd chosen for themselves was also slang for putting balls in people's mouths.

What if you came home from, say college, or your house on the opposite coast, and you discovered your mom was not at home because...she was at a Tea Bag gathering?

Death panel.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:06 PM on April 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


When it comes to taxes, the Obama administration has actually cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans through a federal income tax credit.

But Varley says she doesn't believe that — no matter what the government says.


Has she done her taxes yet? That's a free $800 for her family!

Then again, most of my coworkers must fall into that "old and illiterate" category, since none of them found out about this tax credit until two days ago.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:08 PM on April 15, 2010


Reclaim teabagger - ASCENDENCY NOW!

It's ok to call them teabaggers now, since they're reclaiming it. Not surprisingly, they misspelled 'ascendancy' in the youtube description.
posted by stavrogin at 1:14 PM on April 15, 2010


these people initially chose to call themselves teabaggers

Footnote?

In any event, if they did so it was clearly in ignorance, so the objection stands. Distracts from the issues.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:14 PM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't call them Teabaggers because it undermines my ability to scream at them when they say "Democrat Party" or "Demorats" or whatever.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:16 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


In any event, if they did so it was clearly in ignorance, so the objection stands. Distracts from the issues.

No, no it doesn't. If they had chosen to make their logo a picture of a guy punching a donkey (because they hate Democrats) we would be justified in calling them donkey-punchers. Branding matters and if you sow the wind by inadvertently turning your group into a dick joke then you reap the whirlwind when people make dick jokes about your group.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 1:18 PM on April 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


At yesterday's Boston Tea Party event:
"Mark Williams, chairman of the Tea Party Express, the group that organized the event, said, 'Political correctness led to 9/11. Political correctness led to Barack Hussein Obama. We have a full blown case of AIDS and we're the cure.'"
Whoo-boy!
posted by ericb at 1:19 PM on April 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


Tea Parties Protest Tax Day 2010 (w/ photos and video).
posted by ericb at 1:22 PM on April 15, 2010


One of my co-workers is the head of our local teabagger group. As a result I am much more aware of what the group is doing than I would ever choose to be.

Today they're having a gathering/protest/meeting/whatever. In addition to ranting about taxes and whatnot they've invited Richard Mack, former sheriff and founder of the Oath Keeper movement, to speak. At the Amarillo Civic Center.

The irony of holding a protest against taxes at a building bought with tax dollars, maintained with tax dollars, etc seems to have escaped them.

My teabagging co-worker asked me to use company equipment and materials to burn a DVD of stolen Youtube videos to show at the gathering. She did not, oddly for a claimed uber-capitalist, offer me payment for my time and expertise, nor offer recompense to the company for my lost time or the use of company materials.

Because I'm a parent and I, therefore, don't want to make any waves at my job at all, I burned her CD without even a snarky comment.

If I didn't need a job I'd talk to them about their movement, but since I do need a job, and this is a deeply conservative area and I'm employed by deeply conservative people, I take the coward's way out and keep my politics hidden at work. I'd like to have dignity, but my kid comes first.
posted by sotonohito at 1:22 PM on April 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


Footnote?

Seriously? Well, anyway, here's a FOX News Teabag Party representative in February 2009 waving tea bags, whilst promoting the Tea Party as a response to Obama's continuation of Bush's TARP program.

From the transcript:

"[I]t's time for tea party and — the people pretty disgusted with this whole process at this point we had bad banks on Wall Street so what do we do we nationalize the bad thing."

It's about 2:00 into the video clip.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:23 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Only 20% of the TP-er who were polled make more than $100K, most of them make less than $75K, but they are enraged at the idea of (80%) raising taxes on people who make more than $250K. I am just not understanding why they feel so strongly about something that does not affect them.

This line of reasoning really bothers me. As do the people going "oh they just dream about being rich lol."

If you're a liberal, don't you believe in plenty of things that don't directly benefit you? If you're straight and support gay marriage, or white and support civil rights, or rich and support a safety net, or a make and support reproductive rights, it's the same thing. A tea partier could use the same argument I quoted above to mock you. "Why do they support gay marriage if it doesn't affect them? Maybe they support gay marriage because they want to be gy!"

You might say, "Now hold on, wait a minute, I believe in civil rights because I think that it is for the good of us all, plus it is morally just." And yeah. That's exactly the point. Saying otherwise is a failure at even attempting to understand other people's motivations, and how are you supposed to discredit them if you can't even make the attempt?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:27 PM on April 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


For example, a person earning $250,000 (to pick a popular figure) would pay just about $67,600 in tax -- or 27%. Increasing the bracket they are in by 1% in taxes (33% to 34%) would equate to an additional $800 in tax, and barely increases the effective share of tax they pay.

My folks are otherwise fairly intelligent, but every time I try to explain to them how marginal tax rates work they shake their heads and insist that a new tax bracket means that all of your income is taxed at the higher rate. I'm starting to worry that their accountant is stealing from them or something.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:28 PM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


In any event, if they did so it was clearly in ignorance, so the objection stands. Distracts from the issues.

One of the issues is that these people are ignoramuses with poorly thought out ideas and a lack of self-awareness, so I think rather than a distraction it serves as a fairly succinct summary.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:30 PM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


The survey didn't ask anything about the influence of money in politics and political campaigns. That is one of the biggest things we could actually (theoretically) change to make things better.
posted by Daddy-O at 1:34 PM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you're a liberal, don't you believe in plenty of things that don't directly benefit you? If you're straight and support gay marriage, or white and support civil rights, or rich and support a safety net, or a make and support reproductive rights, it's the same thing. A tea partier could use the same argument I quoted above to mock you. "Why do they support gay marriage if it doesn't affect them? Maybe they support gay marriage because they want to be gy!"

The difference being that supporting equal rights for minorities is an active benefit to everyone in society. Increasing wealth disparity only benefits the rich, and actively detracts from the life-quality of everyone else and their social services, including the teabaggers who support that very position.

Of course, a teabagger believes the opposite to be true - this is due to the whole 'ignorant racism' thing.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:38 PM on April 15, 2010


A lot of people point to the disconnect between people who are making middle class wages protesting tax increases for those who make over $250,000 as motivated by aspiration, but I think it has much more to do with America's twisted take on "fairness".

Most of the people opposing healthcare are doing so because they feel the people who will most benefit from it don't deserve it. They work hard to support their families but for some reason don't think that the poor work just as hard if not harder to support theirs. They imagine the life of the poor in this country is one of carefree bliss and it pisses the hell out of them.

So when they hear that taxes are increasing for the top 5% of wage-earners, they aren't as angry about who it's coming from as they are about who it's going to. That's why "socialism" is such a dirty word in Tea Party circles--to them it's nothing more than a system to reward people who goof off.
posted by turaho at 1:38 PM on April 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


That's why "socialism" is such a dirty word in Tea Party circles--to them it's nothing more than a system to reward people who goof off.

From today's Washington Post report on the Tea Party protest:

Nearby, Jerry Johnson, 58, a lawyer from Berryville, Va., held a homemade sign depicting the United States as the Titanic striking an iceberg.

"I came here because of what I see going on in this country," he said. "We're bankrupt in America. We can't run our households like the government's running the country. That, and the idea of people [sitting] around on their butts. Fifty percent of the people collecting a check are paying no taxes, while the other fifty pull the wagon." ....

He said he "worked my way up from nothing" and was not about to allow "somebody else to reach in my pocket and just take it away and give to somebody laying on their ass."

Johnson expressed opposition to President Obama. "It's not just because he's black," he said. "I wish I could tell you that I loved this guy, that he was a great president, that I had faith in him. But I have none. Zero."

posted by blucevalo at 1:47 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


[DataPoint] FWIW: Those of you in Ann Arbor might know about it, but there is going to be a TEA Party rally at the Umich Diag between 6 and 8 pm tonight, complete with a counter protest (of sorts). Even better: this. Please continue...[/DataPoint]
posted by JoeXIII007 at 1:48 PM on April 15, 2010


Fwiw, there's three separate columns by scribes from The Nation up on their website's homepage right now arguing that progressives should: talk to, learn from, and not generally ignore the so-called Tea Party. I disagree. I think progressives should get Soros or Turner or someone of that ilk to start a left-wing equivalent of Fox News. In the long run, that would do more to build an offensive strategy to help counter the right wing PR noise machine (of which the bogus populism of the Tea Party is merely the latest incarnation)--than merely playing defense all the time. After all, Obama may have won the election, but the Right Wing Thank Tank Complex is still very good at poisoning the body politic and muddying the media waters.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 1:49 PM on April 15, 2010


Oops: Think Tank, not Thank Tank
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 1:51 PM on April 15, 2010


FatherDagon: "Increasing wealth disparity only benefits the rich, and actively detracts from the life-quality of everyone else and their social services, including the teabaggers who support that very position. "

They don't believe that they are increasing wealth disparity, they believe in the whole "rising tide raises all boats" thing. You need to brush up on your Voodoo/Trickle-down/Supply-side economics. I'm surprised that so many people are surprised by the Tea Party's "support for the rich". This stuff has been shoved down people's throats since Reagan and earlier. They've got graphs and everything!
posted by charred husk at 1:53 PM on April 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


HP LaserJet P10006: "I think progressives should get Soros or Turner or someone of that ilk to start a left-wing equivalent of Fox News."

Even better, we should just paint our faces red or blue, head out to the hippodrome and watch our chosen politicians fight to the death for our entertainment.
posted by charred husk at 1:55 PM on April 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Demand repeal -- face the wheel!"
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:56 PM on April 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


wealthier and more well-educated than the general public,

The per capita personal income in the US is $39,138.
The most common level of educational attainment is the completion of high school.

To say that a tea partier is wealthier and more educated than the average is not really saying all that much about their personal achievements.
posted by Miko at 1:57 PM on April 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think progressives should get Soros or Turner or someone of that ilk to start a left-wing equivalent of Fox News.

i think efforts in talk radio show it is not possible; msnbc is probably the closest we can expect. progressives are not capable if simply following a line that is handed to them; there is too much questioning, too much debate, too many shades of gray to come to a simplified consensus on an issue. foxnews reduces any issue to an easy catchphrase that their loyal viewers take on whether they understand it or not--and not only with a single issue, but with an entire range of issues; some accept it because they believe what they are being told, but some accept it simply because it is, for tem, a winning strategy--like people who don't necessarily believe in what religion tells them but support it for its usefulness. progressives cannot do this.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 2:04 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I think progressives should get Soros or Turner or someone of that ilk to start a left-wing equivalent of Fox News."

This was sort of the idea behind Air America. Though I enjoyed listening to it for the lulz and sometimes some good information, the difficulty is that even though I'm a lefty, I don't really want hours of biased, shallow ranting but from my perspective this time - I want clear, straightforward, well-founded, and detailed news coverage, and nuanced and intelligent civil debate. Self-government shouldn't be a they-say, we-say game in which Americans just choose their own separate news sources and let God sort 'em out in the election process (which is beholden and bound to finances anyway); it should also be a common discussion in the public square, for the public good.
posted by Miko at 2:04 PM on April 15, 2010 [13 favorites]


The difference being that supporting equal rights for minorities is an active benefit to everyone in society. Increasing wealth disparity only benefits the rich, and actively detracts from the life-quality of everyone else and their social services, including the teabaggers who support that very position.

Maybe they don't think this system of taxation is fair regardless of who it benefits? You can't find that so astonishing, because presumably there's a point at which you'd consider taxation unfair even if it benefited society at large. (Unless you're in favor of total wealth redistribution, I guess.)

Surely they have other motivations (racism! ignorance!) but we don't need to rely on "they're so crazy for disliking things done to other people that aren't them!" type arguments.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:06 PM on April 15, 2010


Even better, we should just paint our faces red or blue, head out to the hippodrome and watch our chosen politicians fight to the death for our entertainment.

I get the whole "let's not stoop to their level" argument, but face it: we already have.

For instance, the NYT is now interviewing its members, and there's 145+ comments on this thread--most of which have as implicit assumption that the Tea Party is something other than a media fabrication. But the TP was spawned by GOP operatives looking to sabotage the Obama administration. And this isn't just paranoia on my part: the Tea Party was literally and explicitly funded, started, and given its first media attention by Fox News operatives. The whole thing is like a Hale-Bopp Heaven's Gate Cult of pseudo-populist loopiness crafted in the basement of the AEI or Brookings Institution. And guess what? It worked. We're now talking about the phenomena as if were real.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 2:07 PM on April 15, 2010 [11 favorites]


Most of the people opposing healthcare are doing so because they feel the people who will most benefit from it don't deserve it. They work hard to support their families but for some reason don't think that the poor work just as hard if not harder to support theirs. They imagine the life of the poor in this country is one of carefree bliss and it pisses the hell out of them.

i think when you look at the direction the evangelicals have gone in the past couple decades, there is also a sense that poverty is part of god's judgment, the other side of the 'prayer of jabez' idea that god confers prosperity on true believers.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 2:11 PM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


i think when you look at the direction the evangelicals have gone in the past couple decades, there is also a sense that poverty is part of god's judgment

I absolutely agree, there's this perverted sense of smug judgment in modern American Christianity so deep-rooted that you'd think a printer's error left out the seventh chapter of Matthew from most people's Bibles.
posted by turaho at 2:18 PM on April 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


"... We have a full blown case of AIDS and we're the cure.'"

We are the anti-retroviral we've been waiting for.
posted by joe lisboa at 2:26 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


and for old time's sake:

Metafilter: nothing more than a system to reward people who goof off.
posted by joe lisboa at 2:29 PM on April 15, 2010


I read the whole thread, and I was getting ready to write exactly the same thing as charred husk. Ever since the Days of St. Ronnie the Beloved, the Republicans have taken "Trickle Down Economics" as gospel truth. If only those pesky Democrats would just cut taxes for the rich, why manna would rain down on the rest of us and smother us with greenbacks! To this day, every time La Palin is asked, "What would you do to improve the economy?" her reply is, "Cut Taxes."

If smarter, more successful, more powerful people think that cutting taxes (on themselves!) would make America Beautiful again, then is it any surprise that average Joe finds the argument convincing?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:53 PM on April 15, 2010


“This was just something I really wanted to participate in,’’ said Lacombe, 22, a junior at Fitchburg State College. “I don’t understand how everyone can get free health care. It’s not right.’’

When it was explained that the new law requires many of the newly insured to make some contribution toward their health insurance, she said: “I’m not a political science major.’’


Pssst. Just a tiny hint for those of you young people who think that the world is going to be soooo much better when your generation comes to power: chances are it will be about the same. Signed Me, a bitter Baby Boomer who thought everything was going to be soooo much better when her generation grew up and took over.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:09 PM on April 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


From the Washington Post article that blucevalo quoted: Johnson expressed opposition to President Obama. "It's not just because he's black," he said.

Italics mine.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:13 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bolding mine, even.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:14 PM on April 15, 2010


Maybe they don't think this system of taxation is fair regardless of who it benefits?

Maybe? Is that their viewpoint? If not, why are we discussing it?

The truth is, as a whole, they have no identifiable viewpoint and no spokesperson to articulate it. And there's not a lot of sophisticated dialogue coming from the rank and file, as repeatedly demonstrated when people survey or interview them.

Let's not have discussion based on suppositions about what they might think if they were reasonable. Not unless we can point to a lot of people who share these viewpoints, articulate them, and identify as Tea Party member.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:35 PM on April 15, 2010


There's not a lot of dialogue, sophisticated or otherwise, coming from anyone associated with the Tea Party. At least, none that is getting through the noise. There's a lot of gleeful Barack Hussein Obama at the rallies, underscoring the fucking obvious, duh, hit-me-over-the-head-with-it racism that is patently offensive to me, the son of a hard-working and generally decent muslim immigrant. You can't do that and pretend you're not a racist; and you can't go to these rallies and pretend not to see racism, even (or especially) if you agree in principle that government should be smaller and leaner.
posted by Mister_A at 3:40 PM on April 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


anniecat: I am just not understanding why they feel so strongly about something that does not affect them.
Solon and Thanks: If you're a liberal, don't you believe in plenty of things that don't directly benefit you? If you're straight and support gay marriage ... it's the same thing. A tea partier could use the same argument I quoted above to mock you. "Why do they support gay marriage if it doesn't affect them? Maybe they support gay marriage because they want to be gay!"
My limited understanding of the muddled teabagger message is that they style themselves as boosters of capitalistic values: free markets, self-reliance, and hard work in the service of "enlightened self interest," i.e., selfishness.

If one thinks of selfishness itself as a noble principle, how can one make a principled stand in favor of enriching someone else? I don't see a similar contradiction in the case of gay rights, civil rights, etc.
posted by Western Infidels at 3:45 PM on April 15, 2010


"Speaking of... the best fake teabagger signs at the Boston Common."
There needs to be a "Grar!" sign.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:48 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are the teabag progeny starting to scare their creators?...

Fox News Pulls Sean Hannity From Tea Party Rally
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:49 PM on April 15, 2010


What if you came home from, say college, or your house on the opposite coast, and you discovered your mom was not at home because...she was at a Tea Bag gathering?

Since my mom has voted Democrat for the last 50 years (and my step-dad even longer), I'd probably think she'd lost her mind.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:16 PM on April 15, 2010


I wish the benefits of a free and just society on everyone, even the Tea Baggers.

I recognize that a certain percentage of these folks self-identify as Christians. This always makes me think of that "do unto others as you'd have them do unto you" thing, which I understand is a central concept of Christianity.

Listening to how they'd treat others, and how they do treat others, my only conclusion is that many of them want to be abused, marginalized, discriminated against and treated without respect.

Indeed, treating them like that reinforces their world view which is, of course, comforting after a fashion. After all, if you believe everyone is out to get you and see no actual evidence of this this, you have to work harder to fabricate that evidence.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:24 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would say there's a bit of a disconnect between what teabaggers think we think, and what we actually do think.
As I learned during the Bush II years, this is true of many of us.

anniecat: I am just not understanding why they feel so strongly about something that does not affect them.
The war hasn't affected me, but I still feel strongly about it. Racism, the Rwandan genocide, and putting people on Mars don't affect me, but I feel strongly about them. I'd be willing to bet that you feel strongly about a lot of things that don't affect you, too.
posted by coolguymichael at 4:27 PM on April 15, 2010


I literally just returned from a Tea Party gathering. I am running for office as an independent and need to get signatures to get on the ballot. I thought it would be a good place to get some signatures.

Everything was going along just fine until I asked a group of three women and two men if they would care to sign my petition. One of the women asked me if I was pro-life. I told her that the office I am running for does not affect social policy at all as it is largely an administrative position.

"I don't care about that," she said. "I am asking you personally if you are pro-life."

"He's not," one of the other women said. "He would have answered right away."

I just turned to walk away and I heard one of the men say, "It matters. It all matters. It all trickles down."

As I walked away I told the woman who was helping me that I should have taken "pro-life" literally and told them that I was. She informed me that they would know I was lying.

"How?" I asked. "Do I have a fetus stuck to my shoe or something?"
posted by flarbuse at 4:39 PM on April 15, 2010 [10 favorites]




My mom is a teabagger and it drives me crazy. She's a smart lady, a former accountant who really knows business. This crap that she's gotten into goes totally against every thing she's ever taught me about logic and reason and using facts to drive an argument.

At first I thought she maybe had Alzheimer's, but no, she's just a cranky older person who watches friggin Fox news.

(Sorry Mom, I love you, but you're nuts! :)
posted by snsranch at 5:11 PM on April 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


The truth is, as a whole, they have no identifiable viewpoint and no spokesperson to articulate it. And there's not a lot of sophisticated dialogue coming from the rank and file, as repeatedly demonstrated when people survey or interview them.

Let's not have discussion based on suppositions about what they might think if they were reasonable. Not unless we can point to a lot of people who share these viewpoints, articulate them, and identify as Tea Party member.


Huh? To recap, some commenter said that he or she could not understand why the tea party protesters would support lower taxes on higher-income taxpayers, even though the protesters would not directly benefit from that policy. A few other commenters (myself included) pointed out that there are lots of reasons why politically active people might support a particular policy (in this case, lower taxes on high-income taxpayers), even if they did not stand directly to gain from the policy in a pocketbook sense.

Good-faith question. Reasonable proposed answers. Internet discussion at its finest.

Now you are saying that we shouldn't have discussions -- not even have discussions? -- about the whether the justifications for these views are reasonable unless we can identify a tea-party protest spokesperson or hold some sort of registered tea-party protest census? That's silly.

I get that you disagree with the tea party protesters' views. But don't make pretend that they don't have any views, or that they don't have any views worth discussing. If you've read news reports from "when people survey or interview them," then you understand that the tea party protesters are generally for lower taxes and less government spending. You also know that they are generally against TARP, the stimulus, and the health care reform law. As far as disorganized populist movements go, those viewpoints are plenty identifiable. The views are at least as "sophisticated" and well-defined as the anti-war protests of the past seven years. Everyone knows that immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq was a nonstarter, but that doesn't mean that the sentiment was not perfectly suitable as a protest slogan. After all, picket signs need to be catchy and portable.

I'd add that the tea party protesters' views are models of clarity compared to the sentiments expressed at anti-globalization protests. Personally, I think the tricorn hats and the signs about socialism are stupid, but they are about as detailed as hammurabi's code when you compare them to the oversized puppets and the anarchist spraypainting and the rocks thrown at the windows of Starbucks. Still, the anti-globalization protesters were taken seriously and got their share of media coverage on the nightly news, even though they did not have a press secretary or an organization chart or a registered platform. Also, it is just fine to discuss their views, to the extent you can discern them and figure out whether you agree or disagree with them.

I don't know for certain why the tea party protests are getting the news coverage they are. The hats and the signs and the crazier elements are probably a big part of that. I do think, however, that it is a bad idea for people who disagree with the protesters -- i.e., you -- to treat them as irrelevant unless they hold some sort of million-man march. It is newsworthy in the dog-bites-man sense that middle-class people are staging protest marches in favor of less government. I'll bet it is going to be newsworthy in the current-events sense when these middle-class people are organizing GOTV drives and self-identifying to exit pollsters in November, even if they are not all wearing tricorn hats doing liberty dances or whatever in Lafayette Park today. Even the New York Times and CNN are starting to appreciate that point, after several months of downplaying the protests.
posted by Slap Factory at 5:14 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


This entire "movement" was dreamed up in Roger Ailes' bedroom as a distracting front for the usual incoherent Fox News jingoism.

Fox Newsers participating in more than a dozen tea party events.

Fair and Balanced, my ass.
posted by ericb at 5:20 PM on April 15, 2010


That's why "socialism" is such a dirty word in Tea Party circles--to them it's nothing more than a system to reward people who goof off.

Everyone remembers that old Marx quote:

"From the lower-class conservatives according to their abilities, to blacks according to their leisure desires."
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:22 PM on April 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


To my eye, the "right wingers oppose taxation on the ultra-wealthy because they dream of being rich some day" line of reasoning doesn't seem to desribe the situation very well. Something I've been sort of idly thinking about is whether it's instead the case that right-wingers vehemently oppose taxation on the wealthy because they support the idea of social hierarchy itself, without any particular regard for their own place in it. It seems to make sense to me that certain people would prefer the sense of stability provided by an intensely hierarchical setup, even if their own place on the hierarchy was on the shit end.

That said, here's a quote from Amanda Marcotte's review of Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State (apologies for the length):
I have finally dug through the giant pile of books on my nightstand to start reading Andrew Gelman’s extremely important examination of the realities behind the stereotypes Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do. And the book was inspired by the media stereotype that conservatives are less wealthy and educated than liberals. Conservatives have very successfully pushed forward this narrative about the “liberal elite"---in their worldview, liberalism was invented by over-privileged white people and then foisted on the rest of the Democratic coalition, characterized as illiterate sheep. Gelman dives deep into the reasons why this narrative had any traction at all in the mainstream media. It wasn’t just malice, but it’s sort of complicated, so you should read the book. (It’s a quick, breezy read with LOTS of graphs. Seriously, there’s like two a page.) But the book definitively answers the perplexing question of our time, which is, “Why do poor people in red states vote against their economic interests?” The answer is, quite simply, they don’t. There is no paradox. To quote Gelman: “If poor people were a state, they would be ‘bluer’ even than Massachusetts; if rich people were a state, they would be as ‘red’ as Alabama, Kansas, the Dakotas, or Texas.”
Right now the hunch I'm going with, based on the flood of data we've been getting about the tea partiers lately combined with my own pet theory about how some people just really like hierarchy, is that the modal tea partier is someone who thinks of himself as a medium-to-biggish fish, but who lives in a very small pond.

Say you grew up in a little town or little suburb with a bunch of other people who grew up in that same little town or little suburb, and you're making a respectable living for yourself — maybe you've got one of the few really solid working-class jobs, or a middle-management job that gets you a bit more pay than most of your cohort, or maybe you even own a small grocery store or other small business; in short, you've got a job that supports you and your family a bit better than the people around you, even though what you're doing isn't particularly exciting to anyone outside your bubble.

And you like hierarchy. You really like that you're better off than the folks immediately around you, and don't mind having to yes-sir your boss or the people at the regional office or whatever, and anyway, that's just part of the system that makes it so that other people have to yes-sir you, which feels right and good. And, well, frankly, money aside you're white and male, or at least white, and that places you in a relatively sweet place in the hierarchy. It sort of makes sense to me that someone with that combination of life experiences and preferences would fiercely defend the rights and privileges of the people they see as hierarchically above them. Taxing the rich doesn't seem like good economic policy or bad economic policy or whatever, it just seems out of line. They're the bosses, after all, and they should be respected. They say what they do with their money, and it's not our place, in fact it's supremely disrespectful, to interfere with that. Likewise, the fact that you personally have benefited from government programs (medicare, social security, what have you) doesn't make you a hypocrite, because those benefits are rightfully yours based on your position in the hierarchy.

I guess now that I've typed all this up it seems like a fancy way of saying "they think 'I got mine, fuck you'" or "they're just neofeudalists," but I guess my point is that it is in fact possible for people who aren't stupid or crazy to have really thought through their preferences and come to the conclusion that the tea party's stances are correct. Basically, the flaw in the tea party movement (and I'm assuming that everyone here is on-board with me in thinking that there is a flaw with the stances of the tea party movement) isn't one of reasoning — the reasoning is in a lot of ways sound — but instead a moral flaw — believing that hierarchy is in and of itself good.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:22 PM on April 15, 2010 [19 favorites]


Bruce Bartlett: The Misinformed Tea Party Movement - "federal taxes are very considerably lower by every measure since Obama became president ... the Tea Party crowd appears to believe that federal taxes are very considerably higher than they actually are ... It's hard to explain this divergence between perception and reality. Perhaps ... they just assume that because a Democrat is president that taxes must have gone up," cf. Spock with a Beard: The Sequel & A Half-Term Former Governor With A TV Show, viz. Reformageddon & The Obama Administration Needs a New Course - "The Republicans are all insane..."
posted by kliuless at 5:23 PM on April 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't know for certain why the tea party protests are getting the news coverage they are.

There's no mystery here. You may recall that about a month after Obama was sworn into office, a certain CNBC correspondent (re: shill) named Rick Santelli, while reporting from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, had a much-publicized meltdown on TV (discussed on mefi here), in which he urged his viewers to attend an upcoming "Tea Party" rally in Chicago. This was before anyone had heard about the Tea Party, and we have every reason to believe Santelli's on-air "meltdown" was totally fake. This specific event (on February 19, 2009) appears to have been the first salvo in the right-wing PR/disinformation campaign we now know as the "tea party."

The hats and the signs and the crazier elements are probably a big part of [the attention the TP is getting]

No, they're not. You and I could easily get thousands of people to march naked on the Mall in DC next week, and we would barely make page six. A recent immigration reform march on DC drew tens of thousands, and barely got mentioned in the press.

to treat them as irrelevant unless they hold some sort of million-man march.

I'm not for treating the TP as irrelevant, but I am for understanding clearly what they are: a manufactured pseudo-movement being used as psy-ops by elements within the GOP. That the folks showing up to their demonstrations are doing so on their own accord does not lessen this fact; and that their numbers are usually way, way, way smaller than all of the attention they receive would seem to suggest, speaks volumes about what is driving this (hint: it's not the funny hats).

Even the New York Times and CNN are starting to appreciate that point, after several months of downplaying the protests.

They have been getting a lot of press for at least a year now. Their recent Nashville convention (where Sarah Palin spoke) was front-page news.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 6:03 PM on April 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


Now you are saying that we shouldn't have discussions -- not even have discussions? -- about the whether the justifications for these views are reasonable unless we can identify a tea-party protest spokesperson or hold some sort of registered tea-party protest census?

Err, no; I was saying we shouldn't make up reasonable-sounding viewpoints and insist on discussing them as though they were shared by Tea Party members without establishing, first, that these are their actual viewpoints.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:17 PM on April 15, 2010


>> the modal tea partier is someone who thinks of himself as a medium-to-biggish fish, but who lives in a very small pond... a moral flaw — believing that hierarchy is in and of itself good

Identification with the existing hierarchy is an element here, but I'd argue that a stronger element is this constellation of beliefs:

1) I earned what I have, without assistance;
2) government assistance will not really flow to me, and will instead flow disproportionately to those unlike me-- to those below me, who have not worked as I have;
3) government taxation, regulation, and intervention, even if ostensibly aimed at those above me, will really serve to aid those below me... allowing them to gain an unearned advantage... which, comparatively, will threaten my position and reduce my status.

First they came for the billionaires... then they came for my landscaping firm.
posted by darth_tedious at 6:26 PM on April 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's so weird to see these reports and hear about interactions with these people, but basically none of them appear here, and this is not a political site, per se. It's like sitting in a boat on a huge river, waiting for a Coelacanth to swim by.
posted by cashman at 6:34 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


The whole thing reminds me of when Craig Nelson (the actor who played Coach) went on Glenn Beck, decrying the need for government assistance. He said "What happened to society? I go into business, I don't make it, I go bankrupt. I've been on food stamps! I've been on welfare! Did anyone help ME out? No!"

The irony abounds, and appalls.
posted by KathrynT at 6:34 PM on April 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


So I briefly stopped by the Boston Tea Party to take some pictures of signs. On my way into the Common, I twisted my foot, fell, skint my knee and dropped my iPhone.

Some Tea Partiers stopped to help me up, picked up my phone, and repeatedly asked if I was okay. I thanked them kindly, and got going, a lot slower.

I felt so strange, and a little guilty. I had honestly been surprised that they showed the decency. Why? What if I hadn't been in business-casual, but had been dressed like one of the collegiate counter-protesters; what if I were brown? Would they have helped me then? Or am I the black-hearted one, for thinking of that?

There's no moral to this story. I don't like the Tea Party any better for it. I'm just glad I saw a common humanity, of the kind that the Tea Party's funders are working to have scribbled and shouted out of the nation's discourse.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:35 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's so weird to see these reports and hear about interactions with these people, but basically none of them appear here, and this is not a political site, per se. It's like sitting in a boat on a huge river, waiting for a Coelacanth to swim by.

Posting on Metafilter requires basic literacy skills.

Well, that and people who support the sorts of ideas that Teabaggers support tend to be laughed out in no time at all.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:07 PM on April 15, 2010


I just came from the rally in NYC, which I thought was surprisingly well-attended and civil.

The first thing I noticed actually was that the audience was predominantly white (I'm not), which isn't hard to miss when you're in midtown Manhattan. But I stood in the crowd for a little while, and people were very welcoming & friendly, and I had a good time. Speakers were even thanking the NYPD for keeping order, and asking attendants to clear space on the sidewalks for pedestrian traffic.

I don't follow politics much, but for what it's worth, I agreed with a lot of what was said. There's nothing wrong with paying a reasonable amount of taxes to keep a working society, and I don't think anyone is advocating anything close to anarchy here. But when the attitude becomes "it's okay to raise taxes for the other guy and not me because he makes $X and can afford it", that isn't cool.
posted by gushn at 7:17 PM on April 15, 2010


But when the attitude becomes "it's okay to raise taxes for the other guy and not me because he makes $X and can afford it", that isn't cool.

Is it your position that we should raise taxes instead of the people who can't afford it?
posted by Justinian at 7:20 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Err, no; I was saying we shouldn't make up reasonable-sounding viewpoints and insist on discussing them as though they were shared by Tea Party members without establishing, first, that these are their actual viewpoints.

Really? It seems odd that you had no problem (or at least not enough of a problem to prompt a comment from you) with the discussion in this thread imputing racism or bigotry to the tea party protesters, but as soon as the discussion started ascribing "reasonable-sounding viewpoints" on tax policy to the protesters, you needed to make sure the discussion had an actual basis in fact, voiced by a spokesperson and/or articulated in a platform of something. But whatever. We all get to be selective about where we give the benefit of the doubt.
posted by Slap Factory at 7:28 PM on April 15, 2010


Is it your position that we should raise taxes instead of the people who can't afford it?

My point is that people assume someone else besides themselves should be taxed more.
posted by gushn at 7:30 PM on April 15, 2010


I agreed with a lot of what was said.

Do tell! I think a lot of people are waiting for some reasoned take on these gatherings. Because for a lot of people, there's just a bunch of uninformed views that prevail. So please share - I think the learning will go all the way around.
posted by cashman at 7:30 PM on April 15, 2010


"it's okay to raise taxes for the other guy and not me because he makes $X and can afford it"

That's not really the reasoning, though. The top earners were given a pretty generous tax cut that never made any sense in the first place, considering the debt our brilliant former leader was getting us into. New guy comes along and points out, you know, that was a pretty boner move, and next thing you know guys wearing tri-corner hats are screaming about socialism.

Honestly, if a lot of the tea partiers actually paid what they think they pay in taxes, we would not even be having a discussion on how we're going to get our nation out of deficit.
posted by contessa at 7:37 PM on April 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, that and people who support the sorts of ideas that Teabaggers support tend to be laughed out in no time at all.

As far as I can tell, their major common coherent position is that deficits are too high, and that they should be reduced by decreasing government spending. This is not a laughable idea prima facie, though it becomes problematic when one looks closely at what spending is available to decrease.

Of course, everyone agrees that deficits are too high, and the idea of broad-based tax increases cannot be voiced in our national discourse by mainstream politicians, so in a way, the Tea Party position is far from laughable: it is, in fact, the only reasonable position that an American politician can espouse while maintaining some hope of being elected.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:38 PM on April 15, 2010


My point is that people assume someone else besides themselves should be taxed more.

NOT STOP-THE-FUCKING-PRESSES-IST
posted by joe lisboa at 7:39 PM on April 15, 2010


So please share - I think the learning will go all the way around.

Hmm... let's see, well, I listened to this one guy, a radio host, for about fifteen minutes. He talked about how he's not trying to be racist, sexist (not sure why that was in there), or any other -ist, but that when 48% or so (can't remember the number) of people don't pay any taxes at all, it's easy for the majority to go around and stick it to the rest of tax-paying Americans (presumably everyone in the crowd), and that just isn't fair. This elicited a pretty sizable pop. He also talked about how when he leaves his spouse or partner (emphasized, I guess for gays?) for the day and goes to work for eight, ten, or twelve hours a day, he doesn't want to come home at the end of day and hear about how his neighbor wants a part of his salary. Lastly, he talked about how we're already deep in debt to China & the like, and should be concentrating on spending less instead of taxing more. And how the more you give to government, the more it wants.

Actually at the very end, he encouraged everyone to chant something like "we're right, we're right, we're right", which I thought was really silly & counter-productive. While we were doing this, this young guy starts walking by with some rabid anti-tea-party sign, yelling something inflammatory at the crowd that I couldn't really hear. And this old lady next to me leans over and says, 'don't listen to him, he's crazy, they've been bothering us all night'.

Personally, after this last filing, I've had enough of taxes for the year already. :)
posted by gushn at 8:17 PM on April 15, 2010


The Tea Party was literally and explicitly funded, started, and given its first media attention by Fox News operatives. The whole thing is like a Hale-Bopp Heaven's Gate Cult of pseudo-populist loopiness crafted in the basement of the AEI or Brookings Institution.

I love that analogy.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:34 PM on April 15, 2010


But when the attitude becomes "it's okay to raise taxes for the other guy and not me because he makes $X and can afford it", that isn't cool.

What? That's not unreasonable at all, and it's the way that progressive taxation actually works. Even funnier, though, is that there are few, if any, "tea party" people who are going to face that prospect-- instead, most all of them have had their taxes cut. And tax increases are just going to be a reversion back to the 1990s-era tax regime.

We pay the lowest taxes in the world. We have some of the laxest financial regulations in the world. What good did it do us? We followed that ideology over a cliff with the Bush administration and it destroyed the economy. That's actually the problem with the "tea party", such as they are: we tried their way, and it failed. Now they're just upset that the rest of the country looks at what they did and repudiated it and threw their candidates out. Saying "that isn't cool" when we try to fix the system isn't a solution-- it's a whine from people who never had it as good and never had their taxes as low as they did over the past several years. And what did they do in return? Ruined the country and spent their time mocking and laughing at the suffering and economic stagnation of America's people.
posted by deanc at 8:53 PM on April 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


Thanks for sharing gushn.
posted by cashman at 8:53 PM on April 15, 2010


Really? It seems odd that you had no problem (or at least not enough of a problem to prompt a comment from you) with the discussion in this thread imputing racism or bigotry to the tea party protesters, but as soon as the discussion started ascribing "reasonable-sounding viewpoints" on tax policy to the protesters, you needed to make sure the discussion had an actual basis in fact, voiced by a spokesperson and/or articulated in a platform of something. But whatever. We all get to be selective about where we give the benefit of the doubt.

You're joking, I trust? There is more than ample evidence that a substantial percentage of tea partiers are explicitly racist, and what's more it's abundantly clear that whether or not those racists bother the rest of the tea partiers, they don't bother them enough for any of them to decry the racists among them or otherwise distance themselves from those sentiments. On the other hand, I've yet to see a substantive, fact based argument, from anywhere, supporting their economic views. It's very much clear that they're mad about the deficit because A) Fox News said to be, and B) there's a black democrat for president.
posted by Caduceus at 8:55 PM on April 15, 2010


their major common coherent position

See, here's where the problem is.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:11 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


But when the attitude becomes "it's okay to raise taxes for the other guy and not me because he makes $X and can afford it", that isn't cool.

It's called 'progressive taxation', and its the norm for every civilized country on earth, and has been for at least 100 years. There are very good reasons for it and you should probably familiarize yourself with them.
posted by empath at 9:15 PM on April 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


with the discussion in this thread imputing racism or bigotry to the tea party protesters

Yes. Because that viewpoint is demonstrable. If you have evidence to back up your contention of reasonableness, by all means, I'd love to hear it. But the structure of discussions has been "Well, what if they think this, what then?" I am not really interested in discussing hypothetical reasonableness from people who, in every survey, have demonstrated they don't even know the basic facts of what they are protesting. Those are the actual Tea Party, and it is their actual viewpoints we should be addressing, if they can be demonstrated.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:42 PM on April 15, 2010


I listened to this one guy, a radio host, for about fifteen minutes. He talked about how he's not trying to be racist, sexist (not sure why that was in there), or any other -ist, but that when 48% or so (can't remember the number) of people don't pay any taxes at all, it's easy for the majority to go around and stick it to the rest of tax-paying Americans (presumably everyone in the crowd), and that just isn't fair.

Yes, that does seem reasonable, for a premise based on a lie.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:47 PM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


More on why that premise is false. I could go on, but I presume Tea Partiers also have access to Google and just prefer not to use it, instead enjoying working themselves up into a lather about something that they don't actually have the facts on.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:50 PM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


What about this (2007) and this (2003)? (found via AZ's links)
posted by cashman at 10:10 PM on April 15, 2010


it's the way that progressive taxation actually works. Even funnier, though, is that there are few, if any, "tea party" people who are going to face that prospect-- instead, most all of them have had their taxes cut. And tax increases are just going to be a reversion back to the 1990s-era tax regime.

Sure, and I agree with you. My complaint with progressive taxation isn't a question of principle, but rather of magnitude: it's easy and popular to continue soaking the rich-- and if you add up Bush's tax cuts expiring, with the added taxes from the health care bill, we are certainly in line to do that-- while adding even more social services & entitlements, but at what point do you stop? How progressive is too progressive?
posted by gushn at 10:12 PM on April 15, 2010


I'm reading this (2010) also.
posted by cashman at 10:13 PM on April 15, 2010


My complaint with progressive taxation isn't a question of principle, but rather of magnitude:

“Madam, we've already established what kind of woman you are; now we're just negotiating the price.”
posted by empath at 10:15 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


"48% or so (can't remember the number) of people don't pay any taxes at all"

A percentage of people don't pay federal income tax. Nobody pays no taxes.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:19 PM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


A percentage of people don't pay federal income tax. Nobody pays no taxes.

Well, of course; I over-simplified in my transcription. I meant federal income tax. Thanks for clarifying.
posted by gushn at 10:22 PM on April 15, 2010


it's easy and popular to continue soaking the rich-- and if you add up Bush's tax cuts expiring, with the added taxes from the health care bill, we are certainly in line to do that

We are? "Soaking the rich" is now defined as people paying an extra few percent on income over $250,000 per year? I suppose they might have to delay buying that second Beamer for a few months.
posted by Justinian at 10:27 PM on April 15, 2010


it's easy and popular to continue soaking the rich...but at what point do you stop?

How about the 5th of Never?

"Two out of every three United States corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005."

Exxon Mobil Reports Record $45.2 Billion Profit For 2008

ExxonMobil paid no federal income tax in 2009.
For too long the ruling class have enjoyed an extended New Years Eve Party whilst we can only watch, faces pressed up against the glass

The Housemartins say:
Don't try gate crashing a party full of bankers. Burn the house down.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:34 PM on April 15, 2010


"Two out of every three United States corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005."

Oh, god. Corporate taxes are so fucking stupid. We shouldn't tax any of them anything; they're just accounting fictions. Tax their owners instead.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:41 PM on April 15, 2010


Well, of course; I over-simplified in my transcription. I meant federal income tax. Thanks for clarifying.

That's a pretty significant simplification. And here's why it is important: But the modifiers here — federal and income — are important. Income taxes aren’t the only kind of federal taxes that people pay. There are also payroll taxes and investment taxes, among others. And, of course, people pay state and local taxes, too.

Even if the discussion is restricted to federal taxes (for which the statistics are better), a vast majority of households end up paying federal taxes. Congressional Budget Office data suggests that, at most, about 10 percent of all households pay no net federal taxes. The number 10 is obviously a lot smaller than 47.


What's being peddled is a simplistic narrative of taxes -- that somehow there are a lot of people who don't pay their share, while hard-working folks get stuck with the bill, and this patently false factoid gets passed around either because people don't understand the myriad way in which people pay taxes -- and that for many Americans, federal income tax is not the biggest tax they pay -- and that, with the many, many regressive taxes we pay, the poor actually pay a much larger percentage of their income than the middle class.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:46 PM on April 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


How progressive is too progressive?

Funny thing, that. Posing this question means you're first against the wall from the crypto-Marxist-Kenyan-fascist revolution comes, comrade.

Care to ask a different question and/or GYOFB for trollish policy concern(s)?

Sorry if I bristle, but the "speaker" on CSPAN as we "speak" just called for the abolition of the income tax, so forgive me for thinking a not insignificant portion of my countrymen (and -women) have lost their fucking minds.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:48 PM on April 15, 2010


Oh, I forgot the "or" in that "either/or" discussion.

Or they just don't care about the truth, because demonizing the poor is a great way to make people who are afraid of losing their privilege angry and pliable.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:48 PM on April 15, 2010


curious: has it been quantified, where it can be determined, what percentage of tax-funded resources are engaged in serving the interests of the wealthy as opposed to those of the poor?
posted by fallacy of the beard at 10:56 PM on April 15, 2010


So someone who earns $100 billion, and has to pay $99 billion of it back to the nation, is being "soaked"?

Where else would they find the public infrastructure that makes it possible for them to clear $1 billion personal dollars a year? Their wealth is due to our collective investment in schools, roads, healthcare (in modern nations), compliance regulation, and so on.

Progressive taxation, at the levels we once had, was what made it possible to build a great nation.

Tea Party idiocy about taxation is what will drive the nation to ruin.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:03 PM on April 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


TWO VERY INFORMATIVE MAPS.
posted by sexyrobot at 1:40 AM on April 16, 2010


So someone who earns $100 billion, and has to pay $99 billion of it back to the nation, is being "soaked"?

I think so. If you think 99% top bracket tax rates are cool, then so be it. :)

My point is that it's easy to dictate to someone else what you think is 'fair' for them to pay in taxes.
posted by gushn at 4:58 AM on April 16, 2010


I think so. If you think 99% top bracket tax rates are cool, then so be it. :)

Wasn't the top marginal bracket during the post-WWII period- the most prosperous period of American history- 90%?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:10 AM on April 16, 2010


Wasn't the top marginal bracket during the post-WWII period- the most prosperous period of American history- 90%?

Yes, or close to it - and I could understand how people might bristle at taxes that high.

These lunatics are complaining about tax levels that aren't even as high as when Good King-Saint-Lord-Savior Ronnie Reagan was at the helm.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:30 AM on April 16, 2010


I still think the point about reaganomics stands. How is it surprising that these people are supporting the kind of tax policies they are when this idea of "trickle-down economics" and tax-cutting for the rich has been repeatedly slammed into their heads by republicans for decades? Everyone's pointing fingers at the "lunatic" tea-partiers (oh they're so crazy who knows why they believe anything probably just racism!) and ignoring the more powerful people who are pulling their strings, so to speak.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:37 AM on April 16, 2010


"48% or so (can't remember the number) of people don't pay any taxes at all"

My hunch is that this pseudostatistic is bandied around for not one but two purposes. First for the obvious reason that has already been pointed out, which is to fire up the rabble into believing half the country is enjoying government largesse on the backs of the hard working patriots who are being "taxed at gunpoint." But I think it's also an entree into selling the moronic "Fair Tax" proposal that the libertarians love so much -- aka the 30% sales tax. Which is also a pretty clever corporate tax dodge, and not surprisingly it does the exact opposite of what its proponents say it does. But it's a pretty sweet little deal if you have huge amounts of disposable income.
posted by contessa at 6:57 AM on April 16, 2010


I think so. If you think 99% top bracket tax rates are cool, then so be it. :)

Would you care to actually explain how they are being soaked, and maybe address the debt they owe to the public infrastructure in doing so?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:15 AM on April 16, 2010


If you think 99% top bracket tax rates are cool, then so be it.

Speaking just for myself, I would LOVE to be in the 99% TOP TAX BRACKET, and pay MILLIONS in taxes. I'm pretty sure I'd be smiling when I wrote the check.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:30 AM on April 16, 2010




"...taxes are at their lowest levels in 60 years. 'The relation between what is said in the tax debate and what is true about tax policy is often quite tenuous,' said Tax Policy Center co-director William Gale. 'The rise of the Tea Party at at time when taxes are literally at their lowest in decades is really hard to understand.' Nearly 47 percent of Americans will pay no federal income taxes for 2009 because either 'their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability.'"*
posted by ericb at 7:46 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


1) I earned what I have, without assistance;

Such a flawed premise for any American to begin with.
posted by Miko at 9:00 AM on April 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


Do you think twenty years from now there is going to be nostalgia for these protests like there were for anti-war protest in the sixties?

I can just see a coming of age TV drama about a tween in the era of the Tea Party narrated by Daniel Stern.

NARRATOR: So, we all piled into the Ford Windstar and drove down to the National Mall. As mom, in her nicest Waterboard Obama T-shirt, and dad carrying a sign they made me write, I felt like I was seeing them for the first time. I tried to Tweet my feelings but couldn't get good reception on my Blackberry. Mom blamed the Democrats.
posted by zinc saucier at 10:44 AM on April 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Jesus, let me try that again.

As mom and dad chanted "Go back to Kenya, Muslin Usurper!",

As mom and dad jumped and waved trying to catch Sarah Pailn's eye,

As mom and dad shouted at a homeless man in a wheelchair that turned out to be Charles Krauthammer,

As mom and dad earnestly prayed for the non-violent death of the president,

OK. insert any one of those.
posted by zinc saucier at 11:23 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]




The Strange World of Right Wing Rage

Totally awesome, minus the unfortunate misspelling of "Habeas Corpus."
posted by contessa at 11:57 AM on April 16, 2010


I realize I'm very late to the party here - but I had a kind of revelation this year re: taxes and I thought I'd drop my two cents in the bucket.
This is the first time I've paid taxes directly - I'm now a full-time pastor and am thus self-employed - my taxes aren't withheld from my paycheck - I pay them on tax day.
I think a lot of tea-party, libertarian, anti-tax folks might be in the same position. Now - I was smart and set aside about a sizable portion of my income because I knew that I'd have to pay taxes. I've never, in my life, written a check as large as the one I wrote this year with "United States Treasury" on the "pay to the order of" line. It was a staggering amount of money. My tax preparer kind of gave me a pained smile, as though she was thinking, "This is where he's going to flip out... he'll flip out in five... four... three..." but I didn't. I did start sweating, kind of frowned, and started thinking about how nice the roads are and how nice the police and fire-department are and how I like feeling safe in my country and x/y/z thing that I was financing with my taxes. I had enough money. This is what I was saving for all year. And if my taxes had been withheld from my paycheck, odds are I might have ended up paying more taxes over the long run.
But that night, as I was imagining all the completely awesome shit I could buy or experience with those thousands and thousands of dollars, I began to understand why folks who are self-employed or who work as contractors, and don't save up for their taxes, might want to flip out and fly their plane into a building or refuse to pay their taxes or put on a silly hat and go to a protest. But every dollar I earn is directly tied to the prosperity of this country - and I should be proud to pay what I do.
Now, the tough question is - do I opt out of social security? I turn 27 today - and as a clergy-person I can opt-out. I can never opt back in - but not even my accountant thinks social security will survive to benefit me in my old age and my pension package is pretty sweet as it is... ultimately I decided to stay in because I know other Americans who depend on social security and I have no problem helping them out. But I can see why a young person paying out the nose to finance social security might be rightfully pissed off.
This tax season was a very revelatory experience for me. Still, I'll pay what I pay because I've reaped the benefits in countless other ways.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:07 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Now, what does make me want to clean my guns is Exxon not paying any taxes.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:09 PM on April 16, 2010


I'm in a similar boat Baby_Balrog. We've usually owed a tiny bit or gotten a tiny bit back, but due to very fortunate job circumstances we owed A LOT this year. We actually started a savings over the last two years for the first time in our lives, and it absolutely sucked to send a large portion of what we had scrapped together away. Good bye kitchen remodel.

But then I realized that I don't have a problem paying taxes. I like roads. I went to public schools from elementary to college. I appreciated the Fire Department unlocking my car when my daughter got locked into it.

So yeah I think there is a lot of perception problems going on here. It wasn't so much the paying as the huge surprise that we had to write the checks (fed+state). If people see it come out of their paycheck every month it hurts less than having to write a big check once a year.

We'll be adjusting our withholdings accordingly.
posted by Big_B at 2:37 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Baby_Balrog, if I was a churchgoing sort of chick, I'd totally go to your church.
posted by contessa at 2:40 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


i always thought that complaining about paying your fair share of taxes is way more unpatriotic than not wearing a flag pin.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 11:27 PM on April 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Rebels with a Clause: Tea Partiers Sue over Party Name

posted by infinite intimation at 1:18 PM on April 17, 2010


Apparently GE was a good corporate citizen and paid its taxes in all the countries where it does business.

Except the USA.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:02 PM on April 17, 2010


I would be really surprised if a lot of the tea-partiers had to make estimated tax payments or owed a tax bill. I wonder what percentage of Americans do? Myself, I had to do that over the last 5 years, because I worked in a state with no income tax withholding but I had to pay taxes to my own state, about $2200 a year, in one lump sum. Sure, that hurts if you haven't anticipated it - but what you gained is that you held that money yourself, earning whatever interest you could on it, before turning it over to where it belongs. People who have withholding don't have the chance to earn interest. THe people who pay out cash taxes actually come out ahead, if they use an interest-earning checking account at all.

There might still be a perception problem, but that's really all it is. We all benefit from the work our taxes do; we all owe that work support in accordance with our means.
posted by Miko at 8:11 PM on April 17, 2010








Are Tea Partiers Racist? -- "A new study shows that the movement's supporters are more likely to be racially resentful."
posted by ericb at 9:11 AM on April 27, 2010




« Older Tom Hanks vs Mattress Factory! War of 1812 vs...   |   Northwest Coast Archaeology Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post