I like watching how Tea Party radio plays a role in the care and feeding of radical ideas. Here's a small example:
This summer, I had a good honest conversation with Ken Clark, co-host of Grassroots Radio Colorado (KLZ 560AM), about what would happen to kids if the state of Colorado required their parents to pay more for their children's government health insurance.
Clark agreed with me that there's a risk that some kids' health would suffer, but he said there are risks with running up more government debt too. (Sen. Greg Brophy has said the same thing.)
Then my on-air conversation with Clark moved to the bigger picture. He talked about how individual generosity, not government, should replace the safety net in America. That's a theme you hear a lot on conservative talk radio, and often Ayn Rand's name gets tossed in the mix.
Around the same time I had my conversation with Clark, Rep. Mike Coffman published an op-ed in the Littleton Independent taking a similar stand, but pointing to a place, a model, where the economy is booming in the absence of the economy-killing safety net.
Coffman refers to China, which he presents as a model free-market economy, saddled unfortunately with political repression.
Here's what he wrote in the Independent on May 22 about a trip he took to China:
Coffman: No doubt, it felt strange to travel to a country that is the largest holder of U.S. debt, continues to expand its industrial base at the expense of ours, and has enjoyed sustained economic growth based on the free market principles that we have long abandoned in favor of the redistributionist policies of a welfare state.
The ruling elite of China are communists in name only but cling to power based solely on an ideology of economic growth that most of the population accepts in exchange for a complete lack of political freedom. The government knows that if they are unable to sustain economic growth then the Chinese people will question their authoritarian rule and unrest will follow. The Chinese are nationalistic in their pride; in only three decades this economic experiment has already lifted a third of their nation out of abject poverty.
Coffman voted for the Ryan budget, which among other things, phases out Medicare, but this sounds like Coffman wants to go further, to the Grassroots-Radio-Colorado zone, where freedom means the poor and sick and lowly folks rely on donations.
And, lo, who picked up on Coffman's point in early November? Michele Bachmann! For those of you who haven't been paying attention to her lately, here's what she said:
Bachmann: The 'Great Society' has not worked, and it's put us into the modern welfare state. If you look at China, they don't have food stamps. If you look at China, they're in a very different situation. They save for their own retirement security... They don't have the modern welfare state and China's growing. And so what I would do is look at the programs that LBJ gave us with the Great Society and they'd be gone.
Bachmann puts more meat on Coffman's China concept. No Social Security. No food stamps. No pesky Great Society programs to sink the economy and hold back the poor from thriving.
Now I'm expecting Grassroots Radio Colorado to start talking about the beauty of economic freedom in China, to bring things full circle in the Tea Party echo chamber.