Thursday, April 16, 2009
Tea Parties about Taxes vs. Jobs with Coke and a Smile
I attended several tea parties yesterday. An informed consumer makes a better a tax payer in my book. Paying taxes is not a Democrat or Republican issue to me. It is an issue that everyone in this country should be paying attention too, especially during this time of economic chaos. As I listened to the crowds yelling about the President, I think the message of why they were gathering in the first place was lost in the screaming.
One of the top grievances of the organizers was the hundreds of billions of dollars in recent taxpayer subsidies to automakers, banks and Wall Street investment giants. This was a grass root movement that started in Tennessee. Many concerned citizens, black and white, red and yellow, were disgusted by executive bonuses and lack of accountability to the taxpayers who are now "investors" in these global companies. Being investors in companies that many Americans do not consider are good investments, tea parties should have been a time for not only educating the stockholders but elected officials.
When Fox News signed on to the project, the messages became more Palinish vibe in its delivery and context. Fox's nightly commentators started puffing air into the grass root movement and it suddenly became a national event.
At one of the rallies I attended yesterday, more time was spent screaming about President than talking about the whoring lawmakers in bed with the companies they are bailing out. Using taxpayers' money to give to wealthy executives, while asking working folks to pay more should have been the focus. Explanations on where taxpayers' money is going and in layman terms would have been a huge benefit.
When I looked at the energy spent on tea parties, I think of how many Americans lost their jobs in the last year. Millions of jobs have literally disappeared over night. We are not dealing with the fact that many of the companies that have given pink slips to the masses are guilty of having factories overseas and received TARP funding. And bailout funding. And tax breaks. That is the bigger story for me.
Protesting the lack of jobs and demanding that any corporations receiving government welfare payments make every effort to keep Americans in jobs and to bringing back jobs from overseas would have been more unifying and inclusive. The color of money makes everyone see green. The folks at Gallup are reporting that a larger percentage of Americans are willing to pay more taxes in the short run to get our country back on track for the long haul. No one polled me, but I am willing to pay more as well. The nightly commentators, who were blowing hot air into this movement, are receiving millions as talk show hosts, getting huge speaking fees, and selling us fear while their rating are increasing. Those increased rating will help them renegotiate their contracts in 2010 and sell more books in 2011. They are no different than the elected officials who are protecting companies that are receiving bailout funding. Both are talking out the side of their necks and exploiting taxpayers for their financial gain.
Overall, the tea party movement was hi-jacked by talk show personalities and became gatherings that allowed many to vent their pent up frustrations over the election, the President, the party in charged at the moment, why life sucks, and other melodramas. In the end, we are going to pay more taxes that will be used to help fund the corporations that will get bailouts to buy expensive planes to fly their executives to deposit their paychecks in offshore tax havens.
In the meantime, I am going to buy a Coke for a friend who has been laid off and has no insurance to care for his ailing wife with cancer. He can use a smile.