What Is True/Slant?
275+ knowledgeable contributors.
Reporting and insight on news of the moment.
Follow them and join the news conversation.

Mar. 28 2010 - 12:56 pm | 1,893 views | 1 recommendation | 30 comments

The true hypocrisy of the Tea Party movement

Tea Party supporters attend a Tea Party rally ...

Image by AFP via Daylife

Sure, I understand the whole concept of “I’m mad as hell and I won’t take it anymore.” I’m a kid of the 60’s, remember? Been there, done that, can’t say won’t do it again.

But the Tea Party is another story. The New York Times has an interesting take on exactly who are the people who are fueling the movement. They make me think of cake. I just can’t decide if they remind me of Marie Antoinette (yeah, I know, it’s in dispute whether she actually said “Let them eat cake,” but work with me here) or whether they bring to mind the old cliche about having your cake and eating it too.

Apparently, the movement’s membership has been greatly swelled by newly unemployed people with time and anger to spare. They happily collect their unemployment insurance and social security benefits, as they stomp for less government involvement and fewer entitltlements. Of course, their rationale is that they paid into these systems, they are allowed to now collect. But, why aren’t they ranting that the systems themselves should never have existed in the first place? After all, what’s the difference between government mandating that you pay FICA and other payroll taxes, and mandating that you buy health insurance?

The sense of entitlement as they rant against entitlements is astonishing:

Mr. Grimes, who receives Social Security, has filled the back seat of his Mercury Grand Marquis with the literature of the movement, including Glenn Beck’s “Arguing With Idiots” and Frederic Bastiat’s “The Law,” which denounces public benefits as “false philanthropy.”

“If you quit giving people that stuff, they would figure out how to do it on their own,” Mr. Grimes said.

Uh huh. Everyone on welfare could have had jobs, but chose not to, we all know that. And all those folks showing up at emergency rooms and charity clinics, they’d find a way to heal themselves if we didn’t give them this publicly-funded outlet. Actually, what they’d all probably do is die — which would probably make Mr. Grimes quite happy, more for him.

But the example that really got me was that of Diana Reimer, a 67 year old woman who is a full-time Tea Party organizer and activist. Her husband was forced to retire, and they couldn’t sell their house because it was worth less than the mortgage payments. She was luckier than many — she found a job. And then:

She had taken a job selling sportswear at Macy’s. But when her husband found her up early and late taking care of Tea Party business, he urged her to take a leave. When the store did not allow one, she quit.

“I guess I just found my calling,” she said.

Let me get this straight: She found a job so that she could continue to make ends meet, then quit it so she could rail against the government? How did she have that luxury? Medicare and Social Security, those symbols of government intervention.

Reimer infuriates me. Jeff McQueen, an unemployed auto parts salesman who — surprise! — blames the government for his lost job, just befuddles me.

He blames the government for his unemployment. “Government is absolutely responsible, not because of what they did recently with the car companies, but what they’ve done since the 1980s,” he said. “The government has allowed free trade and never set up any rules.”

He and others do not see any contradictions in their arguments for smaller government even as they argue that it should do more to prevent job loss or cuts to Medicare. After a year of angry debate, emotion outweighs fact.

Okay, the Times just states the fact. I ask the question: HOW CAN HE NOT SEE THE CONTRADICTION???????

There is a ray of hope, though:

The fact that many of them joined the Tea Party after losing their jobs raises questions of whether the movement can survive an improvement in the economy, with people trading protest signs for paychecks.

Puts me in the awful position of wishing that these horrible folks would land well-paying jobs. Okay, I’ll compromise — give them work, lord, but make it backbreakingly unpleasant.


Active Conversation
9 T/S Member Comments Called Out, 30 Total Comments
Post your comment »
  1. collapse expand

    I feel the reason behind most of our troubles and the need for TEA Parties is the government’s ability to print up whatever money it wants to get their way.

    Maybe this will help make the danger of fiat money clear.

    Imagine you and me are setting across from each other. We create enough money to represent all of the world’s wealth. Each one of us has one SUPER Dollar in front of him.

    You own half of everything and so do I.

    I’m the government though. I get bribed into creating a Central Bank.

    You’re not doing what I want you to be doing so I print up myself eight more SUPER Dollars to manipulate you with.

    All of a sudden your SUPER Dollar only represents one tenth of the wealth of the world!

    That isn’t the only thing though. You need to get busy and get to work because YOU’VE BEEN STIFFED with the bill for the money I PRINTED UP to get YOU TO DO what I WANTED.

    That to me represents what has been happening to the economy, and us, and why so many of our occupations just can’t keep up with the fake money presses.

    They have been beating us with our own stick!!!!1

    • collapse expand

      Yup, the Federal government’s ability to create money out of thin air without any value behind it is the source of a world or problems. It allows politicians to drain our wealth without a lot of people noticing as they would if they had to raise taxes.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      I could pretend to understand exactly what you’re saying. But I would indeed be pretending. Eh what? The battles over health care reform and consumer financial protection and all these hot issues all boil down to monetary policy? Sorry, I don’t get it.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Taxonomy. Without explaining what these guys are talking about (don’t understand very well, myself), understand that the term “fiat money” marks it’s users as Libertarians, rather than the authoritarian-submissive Republican base types your post seems to be about. In the Tea Parties we see too types uneasily welded together- straight Ron Paul types, who seem to be pretty much genuine grassroots (never mind their cult-like religious fervor for “Austrian-school” “economics”) and were the spontaneous generators of the Tea Party movement; and Republican believers, directed from above, who, backed by superior money and organization, have hijacked the movement. Hey, stokeybob, mikelaursen- Dick Armey and Fox News have stolen your movement; you are now a minority in it. How do you feel about that? I’d be ticked, if I were you.

        (Claudia- you’re such a sweetheart. You seem to answer every comment made on your blog, even the incoherent ones. I admire your patience.)

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          I think you’re absolutely right, in that the Repubican Party has always been adept at harnessing the desperate anger of the populace. Democrats seem better at fueling it. I wish it wasn’t so, we all know where my political sympathies lie, but history unfortunately shows the discrepancy.
          My ignorance continues, though. Austrian- school economics? HELP!

          In response to another comment. See in context »
          • collapse expand

            Austrian school of Economics, Ludwig von Mises, Freidrich Hayek- basically, minimal taxes, minimal government, minimal regulation- I’m not convinced myself, especially after the Smash, but Ron Paul and the Libertarians (who I’m convinced are the last REAL Goldwater Conservatives), love the stuff. Michael Pollaro (The Contrarian Take at True/Slant) could fill you in, I suspect Ethan Epstein could as well- not to mention there’s a pretty informative Wikipedia entry on the subject.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          I think you should have stopped right at “don’t understand very well, myself”.

          Lots of people use the term, “fiat money”, when talking about money issued by central government-run banks. It’s an accurate term.

          It doesn’t particularly mark the person who uses the term as anything. I don’t know why you would think it specifically marks someone as a member of the Libertarian Party.

          Like I said, already, I’m not a Tea Party’er. Nobody has stolen my movement, because I’m not a part of it. Just an observer, like you guys.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    Wow, I’m not a Tea Party-er, but I know enough about the movement to know it’s very decentralized, isn’t astroturf, and is made up of all kinds of people with all kinds of opinions.

    You are engaging in a common practice that is really hurting any ability to engage in serious political discourse in this country: cherry picking some examples that suit your point of view, so you can close your ears to consideration of views that don’t fit your confirmation bias.

    It’s really sad.

    • collapse expand

      I understand your criticism, but I don’t accept it. The Republican party is made up of people with all different kinds of views. The Tea Party is much more universal — and no, I don’t think the examples are cherry-picked. I think the fundamental Tea Party platform accepts those government programs that help us middle class folks, and rejects as unfair intervention those programs that do not directly benefit us. Emphasis on the word directly: I think we are all helped when there is less sickness, less poverty, more education.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    thanx, ncfrommke. I’m familiar with minimal-everything theory, rant against it all the time. But I never realized it had a formal name like “Austrian School” There’s an expression I use all the time: The ever lengthening list of questions I knew the answer to until somebody asked them. This fits right in.

    • collapse expand

      I just want to make sure I’ve got this straight. You are a political commentator and you aren’t familiar enough with Economics to at least have heard of the Austrian School? It helps explain how you can with clear conscience be in favor of expansion after expansion of government and not worry a bit about the effects of massive deficit spending; you really don’t have the slightest clue how an economy works.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        And I have long admitted that I really wouldn’t recognize a credit default swap if it bit me on the nose, yet I have no problem forming and expressing strong opinions about financial industry malfeasance. Sorry, m’friend, but if I were concerned that ignorance of economic labels destroys my credibility, I wouldn’t have admitted to it, now, would I? It’s not like I was outed by you and yours…

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  4. collapse expand

    What I see here is an opportunity at mass education and the fact that the Democrats are horrible teachers. The Democrats’ leader Obama needs to go out and speak with these people in the simple ABC123 style of talk that the Republicans who have won them over did and let them know, “hey morons your putting the ball in the wrong team’s basket.” You have a guy who’s against free trade without some regulation humm sounds like he should be a democrat. A woman who has joined the “movement” because her social security and Medicare has allowed her the freedom to do so hmmm sounds like she should be a democrat. The tea party rails against the power of big business and the power of large lobbyist hummm I see a huge pool of potential democrats out there. Stop the name calling and condescending Dems there some future Democratic voters out there and their throwing a tea party.

    • collapse expand

      Somehow, all I can think of is Johnny Depp and the perpetually late rabbit.
      But you may be onto something. I’m not sure they are democrats in the making. But they could possibly be wooed to the middle, no? I don’t think Obama could do it, they hate him too much by now. But just as the Tea Party began as a grass roots movement, maybe my (our? I don’t want to presume…) side could form a similar grass roots movement to educate them. It’s a thought….

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    President Obama announced today $75 billion to provide extra help to keep your house. Contact us to find how much we can reduce your monthly mortgage payment http://bit.ly/b9pkjw it is free to find if we can reduce the payment

  6. collapse expand

    Some Body tell me what is the Tea Party’s agenda,no one seems to know,or just don’t want no body to know.I’m a Republican but here in Dalton I’ve heard the Party is all about abolishing the Income Tax and going to a National Sales Tax,it want fly,us Seniors want let it,if that is what it’s all about SARA,your on the long end of a short stick.

  7. collapse expand

    Don’t worry, the TEA Party will die from its own inherent flaws: It’s only attractive to old white people. Americans under 30 don’t buy into its assumptions and don’t get their information from the same media outlets responsible for whipping up their (hilariously misplaced) outrage. We also don’t really care about God, guns and gays, at least not in the way they do… Let them yell. They are less than 20% of the electorate and the rest of us enjoy the show.

  8. collapse expand

    I don’t think you need to be an expert in economics to see the flaw in the Austrian school. Without any graphs and charts, just ask which countries in the world are run by the Austrian system and which ones are run by “fiat” economics and then decide where you’d rather live.

  9. collapse expand


    you are right, but for the wrong reason: hypocrisy is just humanity…it doesnt mean
    an argument is bad or even flawed.

    And while one may easily criticize eg Social security as a process, you’d be a goddam fool
    not to take your share (in my case about 55%
    of what i put into it)

    My number one rule as a parent can be more universally applied: in a contest between
    hypocrisy and abdication, hypocrisy should win every time.

    The fringe Tea-Partiers are sound bite ready, make for good filler on TV news and keep the
    chattering classes occupied. They are a blessing to the Democrats who get to pint to the costumes and hope the people dont hear the word or think about the ideas.

    It IS about ObamaCare and about so much more. Its about a Liberal elitehood that not only knows what’s best for us, but that really doesnt care what we the people think. They in fact think we are stupid enough to buy the jive. Yes there is some of that “Mad as Hell..” going on out there.

    The country KNOWS the costs of the new health plan is far beyond what’s been stated. They KNOW its the Massachussetts Plan whichis bankruptcy that state faster than the public employees pension will.

    More importantly, the manner in which ObamaCare was crafted over a year and then eneacted thru partisan parliamentary gimmickry
    show the vast center-right majority of this country just how little their ideas counted
    when a Liberal juggernaut snatches the helm.

    The country knows the first stimulous package was 99% of the 2008 budget that Bush refused to sign, and that it was designed to stimulate any economy …and hasnt in 15 months…

    They resent the “Wall St bailouts” that will turn a profit of billions…except for the Detroit section…

    They know that Medicare and Social Security are exquisite, unfunded Ponzi schemes with neither party willing to do more than set up another “Blue Ribbon Commission” to study the issue.

    They see a current debt of unimaginable size and projected deficits as far as they can see,
    at both federal and state levels (See NY, NJ etc)

    They may be ashamed (as am i) to be the first generation of Americans to leave their children
    a lesser place than they were born into.

    Fiat money is just a high falutin’ was of talking about the unthinkable: letting inflation take us out of this mess by screwing the bond holders and anyone foolish enough to think our currency is rock solid.
    (See that goon in Caracas when inflation is 23%) See also the Seventies here when 30 year treasury bond rates went to 14%.

    We are at a financial precipice and no one is thinking about anything but the elections in November and how to pin the problems on the other guys.

    They know there are no adults in the room when they are more needed than ever.

    Other than that, I have no stroing feelings one way or the other

    • collapse expand

      A truly articulate salvo from the enemy. Thanx, Matt … I guess…
      You certainly make some points that are hard to counteract. Medicare and Social Security are indeed ponzi schemes, and as we boomers retire in ever larger waves, that fact may just bring the systems down. But what would the alternative have been — and what is it now? Let seniors lose their health care when they retire? Stop collecting FICA money and call it quits on Social Security? We’re in too deep. And, unlike the cash-hemorrhaging war in Iraq, at least we got into this mess for the right reasons.
      If I trusted in the essential goodness of human nature, I probably would be a minimal-interventionist too. The problem, though, is that, if government does not tell us what is good for us, we will take that expression too literally — i.e., vote for bills and such that immediately benefit ourselves and our families, and the heck with folks who have less money, are sicker, are older, whatever. And that’s not what this country is supposed to be about.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        it isnt the essential goodness of HUMAN nature that you should question, but the ESTABLISHED wrongheaded propensities of the POLITICAL nature.

        Social Security wasnt about HELPING thy neighbor; it was an INSURANCE plan to provide a minimal something from your own forced savings. But that later pot of gold (the trust funds) proved to tempting for the political class who looted it some decades back and left the future recipients the same IOUs we finance day to day government with.
        (Recall Al Gore’s “lock box” !!)

        This country was never about not helping those in need, especially in cities like NY where philanthropy is all but a contact sport. (Count all those societies up !) In the history of this country no farmer ever got that barn up by himself. Nor did he need thousands of dollars conscripted from the general population to motivate the barn’s being built.

        Governments intrusion under the guise of “helping” has brought up to a democracy where more people DONT pay any income taxes than do; where 45% of the income taxes are paid less than 5 % of the people, all under the rubric of economic “fairness”.

        Something about blood and a stone comes to mind. Or maybe the words of the great economic
        thinker Notorious Big who once mused
        “What up with that?”

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          We see the same facts and reach opposite conclusions (no surprise there, I guess)
          Yes, the vast majority of taxes are paid by a handful of people. Unbridled capitalism has created a system whereby a trader who contributes zilch/zero/nada to any societal good can “earn” — now there’s a word that has truly lost its meaning — tens of millions of dollars, while the people who teach our children or change our bedpans struggle to deal with underwater mortgages.
          And you are absolutely right about those barn-raising — because people help their neighbors, their colleagues, the folks they sit next to in church. Farmers help other farmers. White guys help other white guys. The government helps those who simply can’t get others to chip in and build their barn

          In response to another comment. See in context »
  10. collapse expand

    All us Tea baggers want is simple:
    1) Lower the national debt (even though my man Bush ran it up so high in the first place)
    2) Cut taxes
    3) Spend a few trillion more on wars
    That’s not so hard, is it? Maybe when the GOP is back in power they can do it all with the wave of a wand. Those Democrats are only human.

  11. collapse expand

    The Tea Party members in my town, according to what I have seen in our local newspaper, are older folk that are upset with excessive government spending (stimulus package) and a massive health care bill (that polls were showing most Americans were fearful of). They don’t see how this health insurance reform will reduce costs OR increase services to them. And, most experts agree that any cost savings is just a guess. Those are the 2 issues that they speak about. Beyond this, it’s the normal rhetoric on 10 other topics that get people excited. The latter just confuses their primary message.

    I certainly find many things to complain about regarding the Tea Party’s methods & who speaks for them (or who WANTS to speak for them). But, at the same time, I’m getting tired of liberals always attacking the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, etc. Instead of attacking unelected US citizens that are vocalizing their 2 cents, why don’t you keep focussed on elected officials? At least the conservatives are more focussed on Obama, Reid and Pelosi than other private US citizens.

    Let’s stop throwing tomatoes at the audience and focus on those that make the decisions. Liberals surely won’t accomplish much if they just focus their attacks on conservatives. Why not focus on the liberal president and congress that refuse to address DADT, Guantanamo and other issues that are virtually being ignored or forever delayed? It’s crazy to see how little is being accomplished with full majorities in the House and Senate. Many liberal voters are upset with their elected officials but are keeping quiet because they know that Obama is better than Bush and McCain. But, Obama isn’t very good if he’s doing 180s on his promises. Liberals should be pressuring him to do what he said he’d do. Again, the ranting of liberals is focussed in the wrong direction. Before you know it, it’ll be November and accomplishing progressive goals will be more difficult.

    • collapse expand

      but it’s not either/or. We liberals certainly do criticize regulators, Obama, lots of folks. But when people make as much noise as Palin and Limbaugh do –and when much of it is criticizing liberals of all stripes– then you can’t expect us to lie down and smile in resignation. The fact is, Palin et al are a dangerous force and must be taken seriously. Same with the Tea Partyers — I understand their concerns but that doesn’t mean I sympathize with them. Keep government out of my medicare? C’mon.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
Log in for notification options
Comments RSS

Post Your Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment

Log in with your True/Slant account.

Previously logged in with Facebook?

Create an account to join True/Slant now.

Facebook users:
Create T/S account with Facebook

My T/S Activity Feed


    About Me

    I graduated from Cornell with a degree in child psychology, enough years ago so that all you needed to break into journalism was willingness to starve. I went into business journalism because, in the 60s, the business press was the crusading press, the ones that wrote about environment, race relations, etc. Since then I have worked for Business Week, Chemical Week and, from 1984 through May 2008, BizDay at the New York Times. I remain bored by and ignorant of esoteric financial instruments; I remain fascinated and pretty knowledgeable about management, marketing, environment, all the non-financial aspects of business. But my true passions? Tennis, both playing and watching, and food, both cooking and eating.

    See my profile »
    Followers: 200
    Contributor Since: January 2009