THE BLOG
04/19/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Ignorance Is No Longer Bliss

When you find yourself in a hole, the first order of business is to stop digging. That maxim seems to be lost on the Tea Partiers.

The Tea Party phenomenon, its members having the vaguest, barest, of notions about how we came to be in a Great Recession, are motivated by a sudden realization that the economy is pretty shaky for regular folks. Had they been paying attention prior to this Great Recession, they might have known how close to the edge we were running for three decades and why. Since they have been in the total darkness of complacency for thirty years, it is not surprising to see their new-found outrage directed at the adversaries of the past. Hint Tea People, the Soviet Union no longer exists and Red China is making global buffoons out of capitalists through capitalism itself. It's a whole new world and you have much to learn in catching up.

The New York Times, as only it has the patience to do, published an in depth and person on person expose of the rudimentary foundations of the Tea Party phenomenon HERE. The NYT draws no conclusions, makes no contrasts, it simply reveals what is inside the skulls of those flocking to a nominally anti-establishment movement that can only be objectively described as the most potent force available for supporting the establishment.

Tea Persons, the establishment is Wall Street, the banking industry, mega and multinational corporations, all of which are the backbone of the Republican party. And in mouthing messages identical to those with which the Republicans have badgered the left for years, you forfeit any claim to independence from that party. You are a defacto part of it, you just don't seem to be able to recognize this stone fact. With no inkling of what is going on and no imagination to create a coherent mission, you are doomed to be absorbed by the party from whom you have adopted talking points, wholesale.

Tea Partiers, you have concluded that there is a great conspiracy of the left to make life worse for the American people. Odd then that Social Security and Medicare were designed to and do make it better for the vast majority. It is as if the American people of whom you purport representation are only those which show up at a Tea Party. They are those who feebly aspire to wealth and have mysteriously identified socialism as the obstacle between themselves and attaining it. You fail to recognize the most fundamental of all capitalist statistics, not everyone will be rich. In a pure capitalist system, some 90% of you are going to be poor no matter how hard you try not to be. Darwin pretty much spelled it out a century ago.

In the Tea Party milieu, lefty socialists have accomplished ruining the world by taking over Wall Street, the banking industry, the Federal Reserve and any other of the bastions of right wing capitalist political domination you can imagine. The absurdity is staggering. The disconnect from reality is jaw dropping. The denial of history and political theory is just incalculable.

The conventional wisdom is that insanity is defined by continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result. But, there is an alternate definition, turning Arthur Clarke's observation on its head. Clarke observed that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." The reciprocal might be that any stupidity sufficient enough to appear insane is insane. Clinically, the insane might be best described as anyone who is an inherent danger to self or others. Tea Party, you test the limits.

In the Tea Partiers, we have a collection of political neophytes who, in their own words, reveal to the NYT that they have the philosophical sophistication and sense of political history of 6th graders. Many, apparently, have just discovered that there is a Federal Reserve. That same level of sophistication might be attributed to many in our society, but it is not often that any collection of the ignorant is quite collectively stupid enough to believe that they have the wherewithal to recalibrate the principles of democracy.

Armed with a copy of the Constitution that is little more than a magic word to them, Tea Partiers decry the result of 234 years of political evolution that is America.

The concept of taxation appears to be particularly troublesome to them. While naming themselves after a colonial tax revolt, they appear not to have any appreciation that the taxation by King George was followed closely by levies for support of our brand new nation. The income tax, as we know it, was placed into effect by the Sixteenth Amendment in 1913. Prior to 1861, the taxes required to operate the country were levied exclusively on the rich and through protectionist tariffs. The graduated tax rates we have today are a result of Democrats opposing the more regressive flat tax rates of the Civil War era. Minds as seemingly divergent as Adam Smith and Karl Marx supported a progressive tax. Hilariously, taxation of Americans is currently lower than it has been since 1917. Scores of Laissez Faire advocates have attempted to prove taxation unconstitutional and none have succeeded. What new breakthrough in thought will make the Tea Partyists succeed at an argument where the better minds of the effort have failed on Constitutional grounds for a century?

The nuances of the Second Amendment elude the Tea Parties as well. The Supreme Court, a very conservative instance of it, ruled in 2008 with mixed results in District of Columbia et al. v. Heller, that cities and states have the absolute right to control firearms in light of the overarching consideration of the Constitution, the public welfare.

These and thousands more examples of how our Constitution has evolved should put Tea Party adherents on notice that possession of a simple copy of the document is insufficient to make one an expert on government. By startling contrast, the personification of their myriad dissatisfactions, President Obama, is an expert of the highest order. Many in Congress are experts too. I mean you'd have to hope so. Without too much political experience it becomes obvious that government is not so much a matter of understanding the right thing to do, it is a matter of finding someone that will pay your way in order to get it done.

In the sad melodrama that is the Tea Party, conspiracies are the intoxicant of choice. This or that socialist conspiracy is responsible because of how heavily socialist candidates are backed by corporate war chests? The multinational corporations are hell bent to put themselves out of business by promoting and funding the antithesis of their capitalist philosophy?

Glen Beck is an opportunist and craven enough not to care who gets hurt, or even which wars he starts. The Republican party could not have a better spokesman for purposes of exploiting the Tea Party's lack of focus or coherent mission. Glen Beck is as incoherent as they are. The Republicans have a long history of appropriating the emotional energy of the losers in a democratic process. The Reagan Democrats of the South, the Christian Coalition and now the Tea Party crazies have already been channeled and harnessed and controlled. At this juncture it just benefits the Republicans to let the Tea Party loose to damage the opposition with Republican time proven talking points. The lockstep phalanx of political discipline can wait for now.

Tea Party goers, if you have not yet realized that what you agitate for, scatterbrained as it is, is an empowerment of the worst of the status quo, then the odds of you ever figuring that out are slim. To voice your dissatisfaction with an economy in ruin and a legacy of debt is one thing, but to not understand from whence this dilemma arose is from lack of trying or craven denial. Wall Street, the banks, the Republican controlled Federal Reserve under the guidance of Alan Greenspan, a political pupil of Aynn Rand, did it to you. The Laissez Faire invisible hand voodoo rational self interest markets did it to you, and now you extol the virtues of the political figurehead of what ruined you, Aynn Rand.

Serious minds read Rand 40-50 years ago and dismissed her as a crackpot. Greenspan, universally recognized as the man at the core of our troubles as head of the Federal Reserve for the twenty five years of our undoing, was a devotee of Rand. How Rand's influence guided him to bloat the American economy on easy credit is not easily detailed to the novice in economics.

What is easier to understand is the ideology of her other devotee, Ronald Reagan. His voodoo supply side economics, derived from yet a third Randian, Milton Freidman, emboldened your very own boss or your competitor, or you, to ship American jobs to China. These three men, this tiny cadre of ideologues, in compliance with the half baked philosophy of Rand, sank this country to the state which you Tea Baggers now lament. Republicans were just exploiting them to gain and hold political supremacy in order to protect their banks and stock portfolios.

It was not socialism that created the dire strait into which we have sailed. It was Rand's Rational Self Interest that she prophesied would cause markets to be self regulating. Rand simply underestimated the irrationality of greed, perhaps because it had been curbed by New Deal financial regulations during her lifetime. Her protege, Greenspan has since recanted and apologized. My sincere sentiment is that Rand would be apologizing too, had she lived to see her philosophy bring the world to its economic knees.

We may have to deal with you Tea Partiers as a mercurial voting block of some sort, uninformed and unfocused as you are. A double edged sword, out of ignorance you can damage the effort to reign in the banks and Wall Street and health care by simply not knowing anything. Democracy does not embrace discrimination on the basis of voter competency. But it is time, yet again, to refer to the admonition of Jefferson, the original Democrat:

"I know of no safe depository for the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion" -- Thomas Jefferson 1820

Tea Party goers, your discretion is going to be informed whether you like it or not. Just pray that you do not totally sink the ship before you understand how it operates.