Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tax Day Lessons: Americans Like to Be Angry

Few days magnify the pure insanity of this country quite like Tax Day. The exception would be election day in the year of a Presidential election, and possibly the summer leading up to that day. But for your off-years, nothing does it quite like Tax Day.

Consider the ‘Tea Party’ phenomenon.

As has been stated around these parts, I find this group of people interesting for a couple of reasons: (a) their slide from a loose organization of people outraged by over-taxation for the sake of bailing out corporations to a mob of puppets shouting “socialism!” because Republicans have basically co-opted their “grass roots” “buzzword” etc. for eventual votes, and (b) the fact that ‘tea bagging’ is also an unfortunate double entendre revolving around euphemisms for various sexual acts.

Their original impulse, the outrage spurned by Bush’s bailing out of the banks etc. etc. (people forget it was Bush that started that), has almost been completely forgotten and now you read articles like this from the, which begin with things like “Tea Party activists are uniting to voice the message they've been honing for more than a year: It's time to reduce the size of government, honor the Constitution and return to fiscal responsibility in Washington,” which is a sentiment that I can at least respect and then they end with insane things like, “We need to purge the Democrats of the Marxists.”

Of course, if Marx heard you calling Democrats ‘Marxists,’ he would laugh and laugh and then wonder why Americans are completely incapable of checking a dictionary before using words. Even straight up American socialists – socialist light – don’t think our President is even remotely socialist.

“He’s the president whose main goal is to protect the wealth of the richest 5 percent of Americans…. It makes no rational sense. It clearly means that people don’t understand what socialism is.”

And it turns out income taxes may already actually be pretty low. In fact, according to this article, a projected 142 million Americans who file a tax return will pay no taxes – so this figure doesn’t even include the millions of people who don’t earn enough to file a tax return and the millions of people who are, like, children.

Anecdotally, I know that the check I’m writing to the government this year is about half of what I wrote last year. Still not happy about saying goodbye to that money.

Thus it at least appears to my admittedly untrained economic eye that the middle class Americans who are tired of paying so much to a government that turns around and gives away the money to the derned car companies – namely, the people the Tea Party is all about – are in fact not paying so much this year.

If anything, people should be worried that the government is promising to provide X amounts of services without collecting X amount of money to pay for them. Which means money comes from where again?

So why the shouting and the protests and the indignation at the term ‘tea bagger’ and so on?

I believe more and more that people just like to be angry.

This is why Glenn Beck makes truckloads of money. Angry people like to hear other “Angry” people (the second angry is in quotation marks because Glenn Beck is an entertainer who told Forbes “I could give a flying crap about the political process…. We’re an entertainment company”) condescending to imaginary idiots while drawing on a chalkboard and then weeping uncontrollably.

Hey everyone: never trust the opinions of someone weeping uncontrollably about politics. Nobody cries because of politics. If they do, it’s because they want something from you.

But I think it’s true for the flipside of the ideological spectrum as well. Do you remember back when we were stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan and all anyone would talk about was how wrong those wars were and how we needed to get out immediately? Hey guess what? We’re still stuck there, still in both countries, and nobody says a damned word about it. Why is that?

Because the more liberal politician is now in charge, and so the liberal side of the world moves into defends mode even when the liberal politician’s policy (continuing the war in Afghanistan) is not at all liberal.  Liberals hate teabaggers now, not war.  Sure, they still don't like war.  But not enough to be angry about it every day of their lives.

And when the conservative politician is in charge, conservatives do the same thing regardless of whether or not a particular policy is conservative.

This is the way of politics, my friends. Cynical observation?  Maybe.  But I pay taxes now, so my parents told me I can say whatever I want now.

1 comment:

Joe Janes said...

Well put, Mr. Topping.