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The Economist, a most worthy publication, has written a favourable piece on the Tea Parties:

I think its well worth a read simply because we, as non-Americans, aren’t usually exposed to these views. Having been to America and somewhat immersed myself in this sort of stuff, I find their ideology very interesting. That is, the small government ideology that the Economist talks about.

Where it all falls down is when you realise that many in the Tea Party movement – probably the majority, if you believe the reams of survey data – are small government in fiscal matters but big government in social matters. They don’t believe in separation of church and state – look at how they argue, almost facetiously, that the builders 9/11 Mosque have first amendment rights – but they shouldn’t exercise them out of respect for the victims of 9/11. What the hell kind of libertarian are you people? Firstly, its not a typical Mosque – its a religious community centre dedicated to supporting comity between religions and promoting peace and tolerance. What could be more respectful of the victims of 9/11 than to deny the Muslim terrorists what they wanted – a war between Christianity and Islam? Secondly, its not even the 9/11 Mosque – there are brothels closer to the WTC than the 9/11 Mosque. For a more in depth look at the hypocrisy of the Tea Party movement, witness the Classically Liberal blog, one of my favourite blogs. CLS is a libertarian writer, so he knows his stuff and has the cred to go with it. That post perfectly sums up the situation.

More importantly, the Tea Partiers don’t truly understand a lot of what they’re saying. Like Liberals in Australia complaining about ‘the Debt’, when Australia has a tiny amount of government debt relative to GDP, they apply the right principles but apply them wrongly. An adherence to constitutional government is all well and good – but the Constitution also grants the Supreme Court the power to determine what the law is. And the Supreme Court rejected most of what the Tea Partiers are arguing nowadays back in a case called McCullough v Maryland back in 1819. Do you believe in precedent?

Plus, as President Obama pointed out, the filibuster rule creates a de facto requirement of 60 votes to pass any contentious legislation – which has no foundation in the Constitution. And yet, what Tea Partier has objected to that?

Equally, none of them are economists – or they wouldn’t be woefully complaining about the TARP and the bank bailout as much as they do. The bank bailout was absolutely necessary to save the US economy from further pain. In the end, it probably cost the US Government less money than if they failed to enact it – since social security benefits etc would skyrocket under a Great Recession scenario. In any case, the US Government actually made a profit on the bailout package, if you exclude AIG and the small banks.


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