Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Against Their Own Self-Interest

If you've read Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas?, you'll understand just why and how the backlash movements throughout history have undermined their own self-interest in order to further the interests of the moneyed few, the corporate interests, who manipulate the masses into action.

The Tea Party is no different, not in any way. They claim to be a grass-roots movement of ordinary Americans who are disaffected with the way the federal government has intruded in their lives on every level. (Ironic, however, how they want government to regulate reproductive choice and define who can get married.) And yet we all know that the Tea Party is funded and supported by corporate interests in many sectors, from the Koch Brothers (chemicals) to Dick Armey (a registered lobbyist), who are also profiting mightily from the activities of these people who believe they control their own destinies.

According to Simon Johnson over at Project Syndicate, the Tea Party has actually strengthened the position of the federal government against which they love to rail, while undermining the private sector (the "job creators") they so revere. Money quote:

The irony of the Tea Party revolt, of course, is that it undermines the private sector more than it reins in “big government.” The S&P downgrade resulted in a “flight to quality,” meaning that investors bought US government debt – thus increasing its price and lowering the rate that the federal government pays to borrow.

It was the value of the stock market that fell sharply – which makes sense, given that counter-cyclical policy is now severely constrained. The government part of the credit system has been strengthened, relatively speaking, by developments over the past few months. It is the private sector – where investment and entrepreneurial activity are needed to generate growth and employment – that has taken a beating.

Now, of course, the stock market will recover. Investors will eventually head back to equity markets, if only to pick up some bargains. But their recent actions fall in line with historical facts, and Bill Maher's contention that Americans are, in general, stupid people, who can be easily convince to follow the loudest, regardless of the message, is spot on. I also wrote about this more than three years ago:

Is this country really that "land of relative equality?" Maybe when I was a kid and hadn't experienced the world and all it has to offer. But now I tend to be a little cynical about this myself. Perhaps the Republicans managed to reveal what this country truly is: a boiling cauldron of provincial, culturally ignorant, violent, hateful swine. We are people who couldn't care less about America's standing in the world. Who would just as soon shoot a Muslim as engage him in meaningful dialogue. Who lack the patience to understand anything beyond the headlines that pass through our vacuous heads every 22 minutes. ... To have ceded responsibility for our national intelligence to a bunch of superstitious Christianists who believe the universe is only 20,000 years old, we have to be pretty fucking stupid.

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