February 19, 2009

Chicago Tea Party

It makes a lot of Americans insane that Wall Street execs are paying themselves gazillions in bonuses, even as they demolish their own firms and the financial system.  They blame Wall Street for the financial crisis.

Then there are others who have a different explanation.

Rick Santelli, former bond trader and now CNBC reporter.  The highlight is 0:59-1:20.

(Link to video here)

It's worth hearing for yourself, but here's the punchline:
"ask anyone here if they want to pay for the mortgage of their
neighbor with the extra bath, who can't afford the house."

Let's leave aside whether he is right or wrong.  I sympathize
with his perspective, though it's evident he thinks America is
stronger than I think it is, he thinks it could recover without any
government aid, he thinks people will just buckle down and ride it
out like they did the last Depression.  I disagree,  I
think they get guns.

Let's leave that aside.  What you need to observe is that his
sentiment, shared by millions and millions of people, has the same
fervor and anger as the "put the Wall Street bastards in jail"
camp.  You just don't hear about it very much.

Note also that he isn't angry at the government only, he's angry
at other Americans. While there are millions of people who think
their government and capitalism have failed them, he's speaking for
the millions who think those people are the problem.

These are personal attacks about American against American, this
is a new level of divisiveness.

Santelli knows enough about the stimulus package to criticize it
on its merits, but what infuriates him is its symbolic meaning, a la
Atlas Shrugged, that he's responsible to pay for his fellow
Americans simply because he has the money. 

On the other side, today you have South Carolina Representative
James Clyburn saying that opposition to the stimulus package is a
"slap in the face of African-Americans."  What he
doesn't realize is that saying it that way doesn't make people
support the stimulus, it makes people resent African-Americans.

Maybe the best thing Obama could do is move as far to the left as
possible.  He will never be centrist enough, and certainly not
rightward enough, to satisfy the Right.  And he'll meanwhile
infuriate the Obamaniacs who won't be able to recall if they were
voting for Hope or Change.

Who knows. 

But a prudent person will be less concerned with picking a side,
and more concerned that sides are being picked.

Class warfare is back in earnest.

He calls for a Chicago
Tea Party (he and the CBOE are in Chicago.)  Before you jump
with him or on him, a history lesson:  the Boston Tea Party
wasn't a protest about the British raising taxes on tea; they were
protesting the reduction of the tax on tea, which meant the
East India Company tea was even cheaper than the smuggled tea
provided by wealthy colonists. 

The British were using a
low tax to seduce the colonists.  Would colonists accept British
rule-- the right to set taxes-- if it got them cheaper tea? 
Samuel Adams hadn't read the Grand Inquisitor but he heard about it.
They dumped the tea before anyone had a chance to say the words that
destroy civilizations: please take away our freedom, it's a small price to pay.