Dialing up the crazy

A friend put the following graphic on his Facebook page.

Reality impaired, as expected

There’s as much nonsense there as might be expected considering the source.  But it’s worth looking at a few things point by point to better understand how the Tea Party views itself, as well as their misunderstanding both of the Occupy movement, as well as economics and government in general.

Let’s start with the first line.  It says, “Government collusion with special interests is an OUTRAGE!”  Screaming capitals in the original.  This is nonsense.  In the vernacular “special interest” means “any group to which I do not personally belong.”  Americans have the right to assemble, the right to speak, and the right to petition their government.  If a group of people with a common interest choose to pool their resources to advocate more effectively they are within their rights to do so.

We run into trouble in two places.  1) transparency.  If you lobby in the public arena you should expect your involvement to be public knowledge.  Unfortunately federal disclosure laws have been neutered recently though many states still have fairly rigorous requirements.  2) Limitations on direct contributions.  The infamous Citizens United case against contribution limits has blown the doors off the bank and the money will be rolling in, often without adequate disclosure. I agree it’s a bad thing but Tea Party antipathy is puzzling – their buddies Thomas and Scalia delivered precisely what the Tea Party’s corporate patrons have been seeking.   Unfortunately it will probably take a constitutional amendment to fix this given the state of affairs.

Next line, “Government shouldn’t give special treatment to favored business.”  Well, it’s a catchy line but I don’t see any reason to believe either the right or the left actually believes this.  Neither side governs that way, American business is always protected and always favored.

Then, we find “The Bailouts were WRONG,” again with screaming caps.  There is much to be criticized in how governments the world over have responded to the financial crisis.  But if government intervention was wrong, does that mean allowing the unnecessary collapse of the world economy was right?  This is the same logic by which children are left to die of cancer rather than seeking medical treatment, and is not to be taken seriously.  The problem is not that government acted, but that it didn’t tie enough strings.  We STILL have financial organizations which are too big to fail.  We have yet to see any prosecutions for the outright fraud that dominated the financial sector for years.  THAT is why people are upset.

Now we have finished where these particular Tea Party types think the causes are in agreement.  First line of divergence is Break vs. Fix the system.  Again they err, both believe the system is broken.  Where they disagree is on the nature of the problem and the solutions.

Now on bailouts, supposedly the left says “we should be bailed out too” while the tea party says nobody should be bailed out.  The point Occupy makes here is the inherent unfairness in government focus – directly at Wall Street rather than Main Street and with policies that encourage concentration of wealth rather than growth of the middle class.  Meanwhile the Tea Party types want the government to keep their damned socialist hands off their medicare.

Get money out of politics vs. getting politics out of money.  Idiocy on the face of it of course.  Government policy affects business in so many was, you simply can’t get “politics” out of it.  You can, and should, protect the middle class from the plutocracy.

Then we come to the old canard about “other people’s money” vs. “keep my own money”.  Civilization comes at a cost and nobody does it completely on their own.  The line above then refers to spending money we don’t have.  For both we really can’t improve on Elizabeth Warren’s infamous viral video on the social contract, and on the cost of doing things the Republican way.

The next comparison is increase government power over the economy vs. reduce government power over the free market.  For starters, the economy and the free market are not the same thing, and many of the problems we have faced from the financial meltdown to the BP disaster in the Gulf to tainted food killing people comes about from too LITTLE obersight of the market, not too much.

Another stereotypical contrast is “tax the evil fat cats” vs. Taxed Enough Already.  This falls apart when reviewed in the context of reality.  You have as many if not more wealthy liberals and the problem is income inequality and the decline of the middle class, not that wealth is inherently evil.  As long as the radical right misunderstands this distinction they will continue to miss the point completely.  As for taxed enough, taxes are at their lowest rates in fifty years, we’ve run up trillions in debt demanding services yet refusing to pay for them, and we now suffer the consequences.  Our infrastructure is decaying.  Our schools are crowded and underfunded.  Some cities are failing to replaced burnt out street lamps and some counties are tearing up paved roads, making them back to dirt and gravel, due to budget constraints.  We used to be a nation that did things.  We built the Interstate highway system. We built Hoover Dam.  We went to the moon.  Nothing like that is remotely possible in today’s political climate, and it’s a shame.

The capstone is “replace” vs. “restore” the Constitution.  Restoring the Constitution is precisely what the Occupy crowd has in mind, and the tea party pretensions to “own” the Constitution or have magical dispensation toward its understanding is little more than hubris padded by asshattery.  It’s well documented that when it comes to the Constitution, they simply are poorly informed.  Sadly, they don’t know history either.

All in all, a poorly thought out piece of propaganda, certain to please the intended audience but doing little to contribute to the discussion or to educate.