<CharlieDigital/> Programming, Politics, and uhh…pineapples

16Apr/09Off

CharlieDigital’s Guide to “Teabaggin”

This recent phenomenon of "teabaggin" (lol) amongst conservatives has been humorous on many fronts.  But it's gotten me thinking: are there people really this stupid?  I mean, that's a lot of stupid.  Some of the signs I've seen are pretty creative (creatively wrong).  Let's address some of them and see what we come up with.



I find this one quite humorous myself, as it shows: 1) a total lack of perspective and 2) it's amazing how easily you can get someone to protest against their own self interest.  If this protester didn't know, the highest marginal tax bracket under Reagan was 50%. Then clearly, Ronald Reagan meant 50% slavery right?  So 39% slavery should be an improvement.  Aside from that, what in the right mind of Vishnu are these people thinking?  Do they have any clue on what slavery was really like?  I mean, wow, get some perspective.  On the second point, Obama has already enacted a tax cut (look at your paycheck and you should see it) for 95% of Americans.  Who are the poor, unlucky 5% that have been excluded?  I'm pretty sure its not this guy holding the sign; instead, they're folks making well into 6 figure territory.



There is great amusement to be found in this picture as well.  "ZERO TAXES"?  I wonder how this old lady thinks the roads she is sitting next to were built?  How were the side walks built?  Who paid for those signals?  Who paid for that sign?  I shudder at the thought of living in a country with zero taxes.  Why?  Because it would be a shithole for all but the super wealthy.  Education and literacy rates would drop dramatically.  Commerce would slowly wither as roads and infrastructure weathered and fell into disrepair.  The old would flood homeless shelters and emergency rooms.  Crime would increase as there would be no publicly funded police...only privately funded militia (no better than paying protection to the mafia).  Zero taxes?  Why not relocate to Somalia instead.


Taxation is a necessary price to pay for living under the protection of the federal government.  It is a necessary price to pay for the services and infrastructure which service us all and enable commerce.  It funds education and improves the quality of life of all Americans (after all, the more children we educate and transform into productive members of society, the better off we are tomorrow).  Paul Begala gets it right:



Happy Patriots' Day. April 15 is the one day a year when our country asks something of us -- or at least the vast majority of us.


For those who wear a military uniform, those who serve the rest of us as policemen and firefighters and teachers and other public servants, every day is patriots' day. They work hard for our country; many risk their lives -- and some lose their lives.


But for the rest of us, the civilian majority, our government asks very little. Except for April 15. On this day, our government asks that we pay our fair share of taxes to keep our beloved country strong and safe.


He's right: aside from paying my taxes, the government does ask very little of me.  I'm neither forced to serve in our armed forces, forced to do any work on behalf of the government, nor am I oppressed.  In exchange for 20% of my income (my effective federal tax rate this year), I get to live in a relatively stable and safe society with some of the greatest degrees of freedoms of any first world country.


Of course, let's not forget that silly lady on the left either.  Excuse me miss, but you can't have defense without taxes (lol).



This one is great, too.  On the contrary, Obama's whole platform is aimed a middle class gains.  His tax policy, cuts for middle class Americans while reverting to the top marginal tax rate under Clinton (bear in mind, this is still lower than the top marginal tax rate under Reagan), seems like it's designed specifically to help working, white collar, middle class Americans.  So either this guy makes more than $200,000 or he's just stupid.  I think it's the latter.



lol. Where do I begin with this one?  I mean, what does Christianity have anything to do with this at all?  First of all, we're not a Christian nation.  Second of all, I love the guy's shirt: "Stupidity Offsets for Sale".  I think he needs to buy crate loads of them.



lol.  Still on this ACORN thing?



This one is particularly funny as Wall Street is the epitome of unfettered capitalism. Somehow, our government has been hijacked by both capitalists and socialists...AT THE SAME TIME! Amusing.



Oh, and apparently facists, too. (I rather think that this quote applies more to these teabaggin' protestors than it does to the rest of the public.)  Also: quoting Hitler on your t-shirt?  Always classy.



This one is ironic because this person has conveniently forgotten that we had this thing called an "election" on November 4, 2008.  Yeah, you know, this thing where millions of people from all across the country come out and select the people whom they choose to represent their interests.  Oh yeah, that's right, your guy lost...silly me.


But more importantly, this sign is patently ridiculous simply because it ignores the reality of how government works.  As if "THE GOV'NT" is some entity of the elite, assembled with individuals from some higher class seeking to oppress the people.  Well, I've got news for you: "THE GOV'NT" is of the people, by the people, and for the people.


I think what gets me even more are the cries of socialism, communism, and facism.  Do these people even know what these terms mean?  I mean, do they? I think these people need to have a talk with this guy:



Of course, another fun game to play with all of these tea party pictures is "Spot the Minority".  There's just something really weird that I can't put my finger on...almost every picture of these crowds is 100% white.  What's the deal with that?


What's that you say? You have more questions. Well, let's hear them.


Where's MY bailout?


Well, that's simple: you're already getting tax cut from the Obama administration.  Aside from this, check out his mortgage rescue plan.



NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Obama administration's loan modification program is finally underway.


The Treasury Department announced Wednesday the first six participants to sign up for President Obama's plan. They include three of the nation's largest banks: JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), which will get up to $3.6 billion in subsidy and incentive payments; Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500), $2.9 billion; and Citigroup (C, Fortune 500), $2 billion. The others are GMAC Mortgage, $633 million; Saxon Mortgage Services, $407 million; and Select Portfolio Servicing, $376 million.


Additional loan servicers will be added to the list over time, a Treasury spokesman said.


Billed as helping up to 9 million borrowers stay in their homes, the two-part plan calls for servicers to reduce monthly payments to no more than 31% of eligible borrowers' pre-tax income or to refinance eligible mortgages even if the homeowner has little or no equity. The government is allocating $75 billion to subsidize part of payment reduction, as well as provide thousands of dollars in incentives for servicers and borrowers to participate.


This is a huge bailout of the American Dream; it aims to keep homeowners (or should I say mortgage payers?) in their homes by modifying mortgages to the realities of the current market and economic environment.  Taking advantage of historically low mortgage rates, I've already refinanced and ended up saving some $400/month.  So there's your bailout.


But the national debt is skyrocketing!  Think of the children!


There are a few points to make here.  First, I must direct your attention to the Treasury Department's helpful website on this topic.  Please browse through every date range on the site.  Notice a pattern?  That's right, every generation since 1791 has left a debt. Every.  Single.  One. 


Of course, one of the fun facts is looking at the national debt between 9/30/2001 and 9/30/2008, roughly President Bush's two terms.  Let's see, it started at 5.8 trillion, and, well, looky here, ended at 10 trillion.  Whoa, I thought, like, Republicans were supposed to be all conservative-like.  Guess that's just a myth!  Let's look at another time period.  How about Reagan's presidency, the period between 9/30/1982 and 9/30/1988.  Let's see, it started at 1.1 trillion and it ended at 2.6 trillion. Will you look at that?  Ronald Reagan more than doubled the national debt. 


But let's move on from the numbers; I'm sure you protested when Bush and Reagan were in charge, too, right? 


There's another point to be made that can't be made with numbers and that's the fact that not all debt is created equally.  There are multiple parts to this.  The first is the interest rate on debt.  It has never been cheaper to create debt than it is right now since intrest rates are so depressed. Secondly, consider this question: is borrowing $40,000 to spend on a sports car the same as spending $40,000  on a graduate degree?  If your jobless sibling came to you tomorrow and asked to borrow $10,000 to buy a new motorcycle, would you react the same way as if he came and borrowed $10,000 to go back to school?


Of course there is a big difference.  One is a depreciating asset from which you are not likely to ever see any returns on and the other, an education, has a great potential to generate a high return on investment.  Likewise, spending on education, healthcare, infrastructure, basic scientific research, and developing energy solutions is an investment that is likely to yield a high return on investment.  It is spending that increases our overall capacity for commerce.  You need an educated population for high paying jobs, you need working roads to facilitate commerce, you need a new energy grid for efficiency (cost savings) and security, you need to fund basic research to drive innovation, you need to fix healthcare because it is one of the biggest factors depressing wages in the US.


If there is something that we should spend our tax dollars on, it's things like these, things that willl someday help generate commerce and thus employment and tax revenues.  And of course, keep in mind, our kids will utilize these same roads and infrastructure decades down the line.  The will go to these new schools.  They will be the beneficiaries of increased grants for scientific research.  It is precisely the next generation that will benefit the most from our investment today.

Posted by Charles Chen

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  1. Well said, across the board. (Latecomer to your blog, but rants are always entertaining.)


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