Friday, July 23, 2010

On BP, Tea Parties, and the Obnoxious Right

The right is obnoxious. We all know this. If the left is annoying in its whiny self righteousness (and let's admit it, sometimes we are), the right is just f*ing obnoxious. And I'm not talking about the talking heads who get paid to be obnoxious. I'm talking about the base.

Take the Tea Party for example. Here's a group of people that really don't know what they want other than lower taxes. They're part of an old American tradition of "I've got mine, now screw you" ethics. The big thing they are currently railing against is the extension of unemployment benefits that President Obama signed into law today. To them helping people continue to make their truck payments so they can keep looking for work makes people lazy. They believe in the boot-strap theory of economics. They think that people on unemployment stop looking for work. In fact, while the average time spent on unemployment is the highest it's been since 1948 at 19.7 months, that still means that most people do not fall under the category of "long-term unemployed." In other words it's a lie that people on unemployment stop looking for work, in fact they are so desperate for work that statistics show that they take jobs at lower pay than the jobs they lost.

In other words, the stuff the conservatives say about unemployment is a lie.

The Tea Baggers also like to complain about the so-called Wall Street Bailout, or TARP funding. They like to frame it as a big tax-payer gift to a bunch of rich fat-cats, one which propped up failing businesses at the expense of regular folks. They don't like to be reminded that a collapse of the financial system, which TARP prevented, would have led to total financial melt-down and plunged us into a second great depression. They really don't like to be reminded that unemployment would likely have topped 20% without the TARP money. But what they most conveniently forget is that most of the TARP money has been paid back already.

The list of things they are either ignorant of or just plain lie about goes on and on. They dispute global warming because science is so, well, theoretical. They don't like spending on things like roads and infrastructure because who needs roads? They think states should be free make all their own rules, including one supposes rules about slavery, if you follow their logic. Of their standard bearers, Rand Paul thinks the Civil Rights Act was bad legislation and Sarah Palin thinks you can simply wish your way to economic growth. They don't believe in universal health care because, apparently, the sick should heal themselves (boot-strap health care). And they all swear by the failed supply side economic ideas that caused the mess we are now in. What it all comes down to is they don't want to pay for anything. Or rather, they don't want to pay for anything for anyone else. God forbid you should try to touch their Medicare or social security.

What they are is greedy. There's no news in this. They are proud of it. They trumpet self interest as a virtue. They essentially echo Boesky (from whom Gekko stole it) that greed is good. It should be no surprise that they don't want to pay for anything for anybody but they want services to come to them. They want to pursue the policies of Ronald Regan and the Bushes, whom you will recall wracked up record deficits and de-regulated business to the point that it was able to run wild until collapsing and dragging the rest of us down with it. They want to repeat every terrible mistake of the last thirty years in the name of some selfish ideology designed solely to make rich people richer and poor people poorer and destroy the middle class (a creation, lets not forget, of the liberal policies of FDR). Many of them like to point to the 1870s as the last era of freedom in the United States, but do we really want to return to an era of horrible poverty, tenements, unchecked disease and hunger, rancid foods, environmental destruction, child labor, and robber barons running the world? That is their dream. In fact, that is what 25 years of reganomics eventually gave us: Enron, BP, Goldman Sachs, AIG, and Katrina. And that is what they want for our country. They are crying foul now because we are actually trying to correct the mistakes of that era, rein in business and heal the environment. And they want it stopped. They want to take the country back (from whom is an interesting question).

So anytime you see a candidate who is supported by the tea party, remember: down that path lies ruin, so vote for the other guy.