Contradictions Plague the Tea Party

One of the many flaws of the fatally flawed tea party is that so many of its members, while complaining about the many areas of endeavor that they think the federal government should abandon, are themselves feeding off the public teat they ostensibly abhor.  This is getting more and more attention, and an article in this past Sunday’s New York Times illustrated this point well.

The article, “Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It,” is worth reading; you can find it here.  While The Curmudgeon could go on about this subject at length – he’ll probably come back to it in the future, and possibly more than once – for now he’d just like to present the situation of an individual who is used as an example in the Times story.  He’s Ki Gulbranson, a small business owner who makes about $39,000 a year.  The article reports that “He says that too many Americans lean on taxpayers rather than living within their means.  He supports politicians who promise to cut government spending.”

It’s clear from the article that Mr. Gulbranson is a good man who works hard to provide for his family.  As readers learn, though, he’s not able to do so entirely on his own:  he receives an earned-income tax credit and his three children eat free breakfast and lunch at school – meals paid for by taxpayers and that nasty federal government.

The story quotes Mr. Gulbranson saying, “I don’t demand that the government does this for me.  I don’t feel like I need the government.”

No, he doesn’t “need” the government and he doesn’t “demand” that it do these things for him – but he sure files for that earned-income tax credit and signs up for those free meals for his kids.

Is he a bad guy?  No.  Is he a confused guy?  Obviously.  But what he is, not consciously perhaps, is a hypocrite.  A lot of these tea partiers are in the same boat:  they want their benefits – their social security, their Medicare, and more – and they somehow don’t see anything wrong with that.  They’re against the redistribution of income – unless some of that redistributed income is being sent their way.  They lose their jobs and sign up for unemployment, but when some members of Congress want to extend unemployment benefits because the economy’s so bad, they complain that those members of Congress are socialists out to destroy the country.  They themselves are deserving of government support but others aren’t.  We all know who those “others” usually are, too.

They’re misguided, they’re wrong, they’re angry, and some slick people have sold them a bill of goods and convinced them that the government – any government – is their enemy.

It’s not, and while there are people in the tea party who understand their cause and truly believe it, the group seems to be dominated by those kids who always sat in the back of the classroom and never carried any books and there’s little chance of persuading them that they’re being led around by the nose to support or oppose things they don’t even understand.

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