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April 15, 2009


Rachel Rev

These "teabagging" parties are hardly the grassroots protests they are being touted as:


It truly is pathetic. Thanks for the excellent post.

Rachel Rev

By the way, I quoted you on my blog.


Tea Party day was not all about taxes and the people that attended these events all over the country were not all Republicans. And we're also not hypocrites. Posts like yours only serve to discourage conversation between people, not promote healthy dialogue. I'm sick of being stereotyped as some right-wing extremist just because I think Obama is burdening America with a kind of debt we have never seen before. Really and truly- not even under Bush.
We may disagree no matter what. I'm pretty conservative, and you seem pretty liberal, but watch this video from a non-reactive source and try to see that there is some sense in debating what Obama is doing. Please keep an open mind. And I will, too, but not if I'm being mocked or humiliated with terms like "teabagging", or labeled as a non-thinking stereotype. There are other Americans out there who are rational, thinking, educated people. Even if we don't all agree, we should at least be respectful of each other in our dialogue.


Scott Paeth

I don't think you're a right-wing extremist, I think you're uninformed about economics. But more to the points, the organizers of the teabagging festivals ARE right-wing extremists, and many of the participants were extremists, eliminationists, John Birchers, secessionists, and racists, who never had a problem with George Bush's deficits, and aren't willing to admit that Clinton actually gave us budget surpluses, but now, in the midst of an economic crisis when what is needed is a classic Keynesian stimulus, all of a sudden, with a Democrat in the White House, they've got a problem with deficits.

That IS hypocrisy, and it's extremism.


I appreciate the fact that you responded to my comment. I think part of the problem is the media not showing a true balance of what's going on. There are undoubtedly some people at these rallies that are extremists as you describe, however my experience is that the vast majority of the attendees of these rallies are a well-balanced sampling of citizens (even some Democrats) who are more concerned with things like Ten trillion dollar deficits than the South rising again. I've discovered that when people of different viewpoints get together and talk calmly and rationally, a lot of work can get done, but when people stake out absolutist positions with no concessions or compromises, our engine of democracy tends to swing radically left OR right. I've also noticed online that both sides have chosen their own facts and called the other side uninformed when the other side just doesn't agree. I think the big part of the problem is that the media has demonstrably become partisan and a lot of the people at the rally feel frustrated that so many on the left view them as radicals- because the media portrays them as such. Here's a good illustration of what I mean.
(even though you might not agree with everything in the video, I think people of all political stripes would agree with the last 60 seconds of his talk, and this is really what I'm talking about.)
I apologize if you took my comments to be in any way offensive. I do consider myself rather moderate and am concerned about a lot of the issues that the tea parties address. I hope that in the future, we might be able to discuss these issues without the rancor that seems so prevalent in current political discussion nowadays.

Scott Paeth

I'm not offended, but I'm aware that the result of proposed policies recommended by the teabag partisans will result in a long-term economic stagnation and/or depression, precisely because there is no engine driving investment and spending right now.

This is precisely what a stimulus package is supposed to accomplish: To become the lender of last resort in economic hard times in order to get the economy back on track.

Now, had it not been for the rampant deregulation proposed by many of the same teabaggers who are now complaining about deficits (see Graham, Phil), the banking industry would likely not have imploded under the weight of bad investments made on mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps. The combination of a movement to deregulate businesses that were regulated in the aftermath of the Great Depression, plus the desire to do nothing in terms of fiscal stimulus in the face of a major financial disaster, is what gets these folks labeled as "neo-Hooverites" -- proposing essentially the same kinds of things that the Hoover administration proposed in the first years of the Depression, with disastrous results.

What's needed now is not to stop spending, but to spend a great deal more on large-scale, high-employment public works projects that will put many, many people to work, and, if done in the right spirit, also set us up for a green, post-industrial economy. To say "stop spending" is to say "sink into the Second Great Depression," and suffer with an outdated and inefficient public infrastructure.


Hi, Scott,
Well, I can tell now why I'm not usually engaging in political discussions online because I just spent my 2 mile walk trying to figure out how to talk to you, or to get you to see that I'm not "uninformed about economics", how I resent the fact that you still used the term "teabag" early on in your response to me and how to make you see that I had to make myself be considerate of the rest of your post even though I felt insulted that you were still using that epithet. The truth is, I'm not economically ignorant (I don't have an Economics degree, but I do have a Masters degree, so I am educated). I just happen to believe in a different way to stimulate the economy that you do, and my way is also reasonable in ways. Probably a combination of our ideas would be a good way to go. I don't think that you and I would be able to have a productive conversation about it simply because we are strangers to each other and have no motivation to really 'listen' to each other. My husband goes on trips with his guy friends, some of whom are Republicans, and some of whom are Democrats. They have great political discussions because they want to be respectful of each other and keep their friendships healthy. We have no such motivation. If I wanted you to take anything from me, a stranger that you did graciously allow to post on your blog, it would be that if you want people to listen to your arguments, which I'm sure you sincerely believe in, don't use insulting language. Don't say things like "teabaggers, or "stupid" or "pure, concentrated dumb". It only makes someone like me doubt that you want to open up discussion at all, or doubt that you're a nice person, which you probably are. It closes my mind to what you are saying, or I have to try hard to make myself read your viewpoint because I don't believe that you have any interest in listening to mine.
Anyway, I'm going to go enjoy my Saturday. Thank you for letting me post.

Scott Paeth

Since your ideas, or at least those of the teapartiers that you're defending, seem to amount to "stop spending," while mine amount to "spend a lot more," how do you imagine a combination of those ideas could work?

You're upset because I called ideas that I find to be self-evidently dumb, well, dumb. They're not dumb because I don't like them, they're dumb because they don't work, they're proven not to work, and their opposites are proven to work. This is black letter economic theory, tainted only by the supply-side irrationality and libertarian deregulation fever of the past two decades. We used to know how to keep an economy running. The last eight years have been so thoroughly dominated by right-wing ideologues and economic know-nothings, led by the know-nothing-in-chief George Bush, that we've fallen into a deep pit of economic crisis with a deficit run stimulus package as the only viable way out. My worry isn't debt right now, it's that Obama won't be bold enough to use the opportunity provided by the economic crisis to a) really make some changes and b) set us on a path of long-term economic stability.

When he does that, then I'll start worrying about deficits.

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Scott Paeth teaches Religious Studies at DePaul University