Friday, May 22, 2009


The Tea Parties Weren't Protesting Higher Spending?!

Brad DeLong links (with apparent approval) to Andrew Samwick's criticism of the "Tea Party" protestors. Here's Samwick:
At moments like this, we go back to Milton Friedman's adage, "To spend is to tax." I cannot really come up with a better word than juvenile for the tea parties -- don't protest the taxes unless you can identify the specific cuts in expenditures that you would make to bring the budget into balance. If you think taxes are bad, then you should think deficits are worse, because they raise the taxes of people who were not represented in the decisions to spend the money.

That's the real lesson from the Revolutionary War period that should be drawn. And the danger for the Libertarians is that if they don't put the reduction in expenditures ahead of the reduction in taxes on their agenda, they are destined for another abusive relationship down the road.
This is rich. First and foremost, the Tea Party protests were complaining about spending, not taxes. Samwick wants them to identify "the specific cuts in expenditures"? Did he read their signs--the ones that said "End the Bailouts" and "Let Wall Street Fail"? Do Samwick and DeLong not remember the inventor of the idea? It was Rick Santelli, who was protesting not marginal tax rate hikes, but bailouts for people who couldn't make their mortgage payments!

If my only points were the above, I wouldn't have even blinked when reading DeLong's post, quoting Samwick. But what makes this amazing is that I recall quite vividly some very smug reporter interviewing some hickish guy at one of the Tea Parties. The reporter (I think a woman but not sure) said something like, "How can you call this a tax protest when the president is going to cut most people's taxes?" And the guy was momentarily stumped, but then he said, "It's the spending! Those taxes will go up to pay for all this!" (BTW I may be botching the letter of these quotes, but this was 100% the spirit of the exchange.) I think I may have seen this clip during Daily Show mocking, or perhaps Rachael Maddow / Keith Olbermann. Those are the only things I ever watch (in brief snippets over the Internet; I don't have a mind-destroying box in my house). But the tenor was definitely, "Ha ha look at these racist idiots. When faced with the undeniable fact that their taxes are going down, they grasp at the straw of some hypothetical connection between current spending and future taxes."

And now they are being mocked for the exact opposite reason.

Reader Contest: If anyone can find either (a) the video that I am referring to above or (b) Brad DeLong linking with approval to anyone making the same point, I will send him or her a signed copy of my new book. (I have to get rid of these things somehow.)


1:31 seconds in.
yeah, honestly, if that had been me, i probably would have gone "if someone robbed my neighbor and i joined the search party to find the sob would you be asking me why i was doing that? i guess trying to help out your fellow man is a sentiment you just can't cosign on"
That's the video 2:53.
OK thanks guys, this is great stuff.

I don't think these were the video clips I had in mind, but these are even better than what I was thinking of, in terms of showing that these people are against the spending.

Tomorrow I'll do a fresh blog post with all this stuff.

Alex R, you're obviously the first one posting the answer here, but someone else emailed me directly. So I'm checking with him to make sure he doesn't want to challenge your public win.
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- a hoarding tax, which amounts to 0.5% to 1.0% a month;
- a complete ban on usury, which is charging interest on money;
- a money supply that is constant which only can be changed by a democratic vote;
- a complete ban on credit, which is creating money out of nothing.

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The people interviewed in the first video did not make a good impression. Here's a tip: If you're going to call someone a fascist on television, it helps to know what that means. The woman in the 2nd half of the second video was much more articulate. Notice the anchorwoman at the end of video 1 "You can see what Susan's up against".
The British are having their versions of the "Tea Parties": still small, but they may well grow.

this isnt for the book contest, but i saw this video linked in while i watched the video that apuntador posted. some nice clear-cut hypocrisy.
Alex R, okay the guy who emailed me said it's fine to declare you the winner. So if you email me your info I'll mail you the book next week. Woo hoo! Everybody check out the winner! That guy's got it going on!
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