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Tea Party Propaganda

2013-03-12
  • I want you to read the following “comment” gleaned from the New York Times online carefully and tell me if you think an ordinary housewife, or perhaps an illiterate janitor, wrote it.  I think that it is more likely that it was written by a professional writer who was paid by a corporate entity.
  • Mike Mangan
  • Comstock Park, Mi.
NYT Pick

You people don’t have a clue what the Tea Party stands for. It’s a true grass roots movement with one overriding principle: returning to limited government. We are motivated to action by a debt so large that it threatens the existence of our society. Our ranks are made up of ordinary men and women (more of the latter). If you would like to know what a Tea Party crowd looks like, go to a church basement after services when they are serving coffee and doughnuts and you’ll get the picture. Simple hard working people, most never having participated in politics, with the simple goal of keeping the country from plunging over into the abyss.
For this we have been vilified like no group since Jews in Germany in the 1930’s. We’re called racists. Terrorists. Hostage takers. A sitting Congresswoman tells us to “Go straight to hell!” A union leader offers to “take us out” and “wage war on us” with the President sitting on the same stage. Our simple principles are being warped and distorted by the media and the Democratic party in order to portray us as the biggest threat the country faces.
We’re being scapegoated. And all the while the ignorant, hateful, bigoted people who do the scapegoating don’t have to explain how the $14 trillion debt is not a threat, how the $114 trillion in unfunded liabilities is no problem. Oh well, someone has to be the grownup in the room.

(published September 7, 2011)

The above “comment” posted on the New York Times online “Green” blog is an example of Tea Party propaganda.  If you examine it carefully, you will see that it is made up to stimulate sympathy and create an appearance of honest, straightforward discourse.  There is one rational point made by the statement: our National debt is “so large that it threatens the existence of our society.”  This deliberately shocking, Apocalyptic claim is unsupported by any evidence but referred to as “unfunded liabilities”.  The statement tries to make you think that “simple, hardworking people” are behind the Tea Party’s efforts and that they are being scapegoated for their efforts.

In fact, the Tea Party was created back in the 1970’s by Republican operatives who wanted to change the “balance of power” between government and private corporations by impairing government and empowering corporations.  It has been funded through convoluted secret channels by top corporate officers in the coal and oil industries as well as individual wealthy conservatives ever since then.  Billions of dollars has been spent on creating propaganda that gives the impression that its positions are shared in the opinions of “simple, hardworking people”.  What has happened is the reverse of a grass-roots movement.  The assertions and identifications of the propagandists have convinced many simple, hardworking people who get all of their news and political opinions from a television channel owned by a wealthy conservative: Fox News.

The Tea Party operated underground until shortly before the 2008 presidential election, when it emerged in full public view.  A few demonstrations by costumed employees secured wide publicity for a simple concept: the “Tea Party” was alleged to be a spontaneous outburst by enraged citizens.  The concept was easy to report on and easy to explain, although its plans remained somewhat obscure.  The only clear demand was a reduction in government spending (which was precisely in line with the original motive of impairing government and empowering corporations.)  Through wide publicity, a superficial knowledge of the Tea Party was spread to most Americans.

Polling showed that, initially, people didn’t know much about the “Tea Party” but were generally favorable.  After a couple of years, however, polls showed that people felt much more familiar with the concept and had a generally unfavorable attitude towards it.  As the plans of Tea Party champions in Congress played out, particularly their obstructionist tactics in the House, people reacted negatively.  General polling showed the popularity of the “Tea Party” dropped to perhaps 20-25% once it became clear that their proponents wanted to obstruct the normal process of debt authorization in Congress.

Tea Party Republicans in the House took the “debt ceiling” bill too literally and refused to pass it unless they were promised a drastic reduction in government spending.  The “sequester” has been a direct result of the negotiations that President Obama was forced to go through to get the debt ceiling bill passed in 2011.  There will be intense and painful cuts to personnel in almost all government agencies as a result of the sequester.  Many extremely helpful programs will be cut or eliminated.  At present, the military has also been forced to make the same cuts, although the Tea Party people have magnanimously offered to restore many military cuts as a part of the next debt ceiling bill.  It has been estimated that the sequester will reduce economic growth by 1/2% over the next year and delay relief of unemployment, on top of firing many important government workers.

The reality is that our government is running at a deficit because we are not collecting enough in taxes.  The average, historically, has been taxes at 18% of GDP; we are now running at 14% of GDP.  For good fiscal management, it is essential that we raise taxes, and for fairness, it is essential that this be done in a progressive fashion.  Raising taxes on “capital gains” and raising the percentages on high incomes are the only way.  Our deficit would quickly disappear if we taxed ourselves appropriately.  This is not in the interest of those who are behind the Tea Party.  They want to reduce government to the point that they can “drown it in a bathtub.”

It is clear that powerful interests are trying to prevent economic recovery in the United States.  They are behind the Tea Party as well as other retrogressive initiatives that have come forward recently.  They are actually profiting from the high unemployment and sluggish growth that afflicts us.  These interests are not publicly held companies, they are private corporations and industries that find the conditions of high unemployment and depressed wages to be helpful to their businesses.  They feel that the employees are more docile when they feel lucky to have any job, even at the minimum wage.

Unfortunately, these conditions are unstable.  The extreme levels of income and wealth inequality that exist now cause social unrest and intensify anger in dispossessed populations.  Extreme inequality leads to social disintegration.  Our current systems are trending towards more and more inequality.  I think that there will inevitably be an increase in social unrest and just plain violence (like the Newtown massacre).  To this end, it is useful that there are an estimated 276 million firearms in private hands in the United States.

To combat inequality, government must be established that takes effective measures.  Progressive taxation is one measure that is likely to prove efficient over the long term.  Insulation from financial risks for the individual is also essential.  One of the most serious individual financial risks is currently serious illness: 60% of bankruptcies list medical bills.  Single payer medical insurance is the most effective answer to this problem.  Premiums for medical insurance would be paid through the income tax, thus progressive as well.  European countries that use this system pay half of what we pay for medical care, and no-one is bankrupted by illness or injury.

One aspect of government that must be established in order to achieve greater equality is truly representative government.  This will be established by outlawing all campaign contributions.  All publicity for campaigns must come from a public fund that includes free television time.  The right to use the public airways will include a tax on broadcasters that covers the cost of providing TV time.  Candidates will first be selected locally by small groups, say a hundred people, and then progress to larger groups, say of ten thousand.  After passing through these primaries, candidates can use TV time to reach voters en masse.

Voting will be required of all citizens; the right to vote will be conferred by a free identity card issued by the federal government.  The card will contain a unique number that can be used to vote through any medium, including the telephone.  Ballots will include, in addition to the names of all qualified candidates and a write in line, a choice of “none of the above.”  The polls will be open continuously from the time the campaign starts until a prescribed cut-off date and time.

That’s my plan.

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