Friday, April 16, 2010

Tea Party Not Radical Enough

I know that the radical and angry Tea Party movement is said to be full of racists and homophobes. But what bothers me is that it's not radical enough.

David Harsanyi in The Denver Post has been reading the CBS/NYT poll on the Tea Party movement.

[They] are more educated than the average American, more reflective of mainstream anxieties than any populist movement in memory and more closely aligned philosophically with the wider electorate than any big city newsroom in America.

They send their children to public schools and "majority of them also deem Social Security and Medicare worthy taxpayer burdens."

Oh dear. That's a shame. It means that the Tea Party folks aren't ready to get serious.

Social Security and Medicare are at the heart of the budget problem. That's because, according to the latest numbers being thrown around, the politicians have promised about $100 trillion more in benefits than current taxes can deliver.

In short, we can't pay for what we've been promised. (Forget ObamaCare!) Something will have to change. Otherwise the United States will end up like Argentina--which recently defaulted on its national debt and raided everyone's bank account--or Greece--which may or may not stop short of default.

Does it matter? Yes, it does. When the national government defaults then the economy takes a dive and ordinary people suffer. Here's how.

  • Pensioners lose their dollar denominated savings, because of devaluation or inflation.
  • Lots of marginal businesses go under. Lots of average people lose their jobs.
  • The poor suffer most. Especially today, where the government spends trillions every year on the poor. The Poles have a word for it: "eating the paint off the walls."
  • People will compete for a share of the smaller pie in the political sector. That will increase social conflict, setting American against American, group against group. People will rush for protection under some powerful patron.

It won't be a pretty sight. And it's a pity that the Tea Party folks are not yet ready for radical action. That is, they are not yet ready to give up on their share of the loot.

But they will. We all will. Because when the balloon goes up, we'll all know that the world starts again for us. At zero.

And that is a shame. Because we could take measured, sensible steps right now to reform Social Security and Medicare so that they don't break the bank.

But we won't. Because nobody, not even the Tea Party movement, is ready to get serious.

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