Monday, April 19, 2010

Is The Tea Party Movement Racist?

Maybe I am blind, but I have seen no evidence that the Tea Party Movement is racist. What gets me are the journalists playing the race card to smear the movement rather than doing real journalism. As one example, E.J. Dionne Jr. in the Washington Post wrote in an Op-Ed column: "The Tea Party: Populism of the privileged" that: "The New York Times and CBS News thus performed a public service last week with a careful study of just who is in the Tea Party movement. ... And the poll suggested something that white Americans are reluctant to discuss: Part of the anger at President Obama among Tea Partiers does appear to be driven by racial concerns." (emphasis added). Pathic journalism.

Why this need to play the race card and smear the Tea Party Movement? As I indicated in my post "The Tea Party Movement - Is it for Real?", I have concerns over whether the movement is real. To address the validity of the Tea Party Movement, journalists (such as Dionne) should be asking the Tea Party Movement leaders how they propose to cut the Federal budget. If Stephen Fincher is a typical representative Tea Party Movement leader, I'm willing to bet that the Tea Party Movement would fall on its face if it had to answer that question. Lets have some real journalism based on the issues at hand.

Update 4/20/2010: Colbert picked up on this issue: P.K. Winsome - Tea Party Consulting. Very funny video.

The Tea Party Movement - Is it for Real?

I have been casually following the Tea Party Movement through news media reports. After all the Movement has a very enticing dream - less taxes and less government. How can anyone argue against those very desirous goals? Nevertheless there is a very troubling backdrop, exactly how are they going to achieve those objectives? I have yet to see any newspaper articles discussing what taxes they would reduce, what government programs they would cut, and how they propose to balance the budget.

One would think that developing a hypothetical Federal budget budget based on their principles would be high on the agenda for convincing people to join their movement. Surprisingly, the webpage purporting to be the official website of the Tea Party Movement is user unfriendly. You have to log in to read their content. So exactly how am I supposed to learn about their movement? (Yes, it is trivial to create a login account, but that is not the point. If you want to sell somebody something you have to make it as easy as possible for them to see what they are buying.)

While thinking about whether to post or not, I ran across the cartoon below on Against Monopoly. I realize that being a Libertarian does not mean that you would necessarily be a member of the Tea Party Movement or that being a member of the Tea Party Movement makes you a Libertarian. Nevertheless, the cartoon humorously makes a very succinct point, if you want small government and less taxes, you need to be committed to that course of action. One way of making that commitment is for the Tea Party Movement to provide a hypothetical Federal Budget.Getting a bit deeper into the commitement issue, the Washington Post wrote the following article: "For tea party, midterms present a choice between ideals, pragmatism". In that article, Amy Gardner discusses Stephen Fincher, a Tea Party Movement activist. The concern with Fincher according to Gardener is that "Fincher accepts roughly $200,000 in farm subsidies each year." Grardener notes Fincher's response as: "But Fincher said that without that money, his farm would have shut down years ago." This is supposed to be a capatalistic country and if you can't make it you go out of business. Based on the facts presented by the Post, Fincher is being a hypocritical. He wants less taxation and smaller government, yet he is willing to accept your tax dollars (in the form of welfare) from the big bloated government he seeks to streamline. Like the person (in the graphic above) standing in front of the burning house Fincher should be saying "No Thanks".

If the Tea Party Movement wants to be considered real, they need to publish a hypothetical Federal budget and obtain leaders who would actually commit to less taxation and smaller government.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thinking it Through

It seems that during the past couple of weeks that there has been a spike in comments made by pundits that are nonsensical when you think them through. Given the posturing of many our supposed journalists, I guess this is not surprising.

Recently the news broke that Goldman Sachs has been accused by the SEC of fraud. In watching some reporters discuss this story, the reporters naturally got into the role of regulation and the adverse effect regulation would have on generating new "innovative financial products". While the reporters mentioned transparency, missing from this entire discussion was any mention that those offering the innovative financial products should act in an ethical manner! So freedom from regulation means an entitlement to commit fraud?

The Tea Party movement has had a series of rallies in "celebration" of tax day. Everyone can sympathize with the goals of the movement, lower taxes and less government. But in casually watching this movement, I have yet to see what a Tea Party budget for this country would look like? So how will the Tea Party movement cut taxes and balance the budget? This little budgetary detail seems to be missing.

In my post on the Colbert Report I wrote how Morely Safer, in conducting the interview of Kevin Noonan, made the unfortunate remark that patents are necessary to provide the incentive for taking financial risk. If you are casually listening, this seems like a sensible statement. If you invest time and resources in developing a successful product you should be rewarded. The problem is that patents were never meant as a means of rewarding someone for simple development not to mention that patents should not be granted for natural products.

On the Glenn Beck program, Glenn had a guest discussing how taxation, by taking his money, deprives him from buying goods and services that help grow the economy. The untruth of the preceding statement is that tax dollars are still being transferred to other people who do spend the tax dollars that they have received to help grow the economy. Of course one can legitimately claim that the tax dollars don't enter the economy as efficiently, but to imply that tax dollars simply "disappear" into some void is simply idiotic.

Perhaps my favorite dumb utterance was made by a female reporter on CNBC concerning executive compensation: "If a shareholder does not like the executive's compensation they should sell their shares." Clearly I must be wrong on the concept that the shareholders own the corporation and that the executives work for the shareholder. Regretfully the reporter's statement is actually quite chilling, the reality seems to be that corporate executives run the companies as their own private fiefdoms, which leaves the shareholder virtually powerless.

Colbert's Formula 01 Liquid Genetic Material

Here is Stephen Colbert's hilarious take on the recent court case finally recognizing that you can't patent natural products: "Formula 01 Liquid Genetic Material". Here's the TechDirt Link to the underlying court case: "Judge: Gene Patents Are Invalid". I hope that we will see many more instances of so-called intellectual property being struck down by the court system for abusing the limits of patent and copyright law.

As a quick summary Mike Masnick writes: "The case was brought against Myriad Genetics, who will surely appeal, so this is nowhere close to over. But it involved a test for breast cancer, that Myriad basically had a monopoly over -- and the claim was that this not only made it more difficult for women to get tested, but it also greatly discouraged other research in the field. In part, this was because the patents that Myriad held were incredibly broad."

An item of interest in Colbert's video clip was a remark by Morely Safer. Morely Safer in conducting the interview of Kevin Noonan makes the unfortunate (devils advocate?) remark that patents are necessary to provide the incentive for taking financial risk. While this may seem, on the surface, to be valid it is actually a totally ludicrous statement. People have been inventing and innovating foe centuries without the benefit of patent protection. Educational institutions, using tax dollars, also do research into solving medical problems. To go a step further, Michael Crichton wrote in 2007, a leading edge opinion piece, "Patenting Life" in the New York Times explaining the numerous problems associated with allowing gene patenting. Moreover, patents are meant for protecting (for a limited period of time) something non-obvious that you have invented. Uncovering a gene, a product of nature, (plain and simple) is not an invention.

TechDirt article: "More On The Gene Patent Ruling: What Happens Next"
New York Times Article: "Judge Invalidates Human Gene Patent"
Here is a copy of the opinion.