Thursday, March 10, 2011

Americans Don’t Want to Pay for the Government They Want

Ron Schiller’s departure from NPR is probably a plus for everybody. His remarks in the undercover “sting” video show that he just doesn’t “get it” when it comes to the Tea Party. The Tea Party probably has a racist or two in its ranks, but to explain away the Tea Party by calling it a racist organization is to miss the point. Racist organizations are despicable and socially unacceptable, but racism doesn’t have the power to drive the world’s biggest economy into bankruptcy. Things would be so much better if the Tea Party was the new KKK because the reality is much worse than that.

Last Friday night (actually it was on PBS) commentator Mark Shields said the smartest thing I’ve heard in years. He said “The American people don’t want to pay for the government they want.” That’s the problem in a nutshell, and leading the charge in this direction is the Tea Party. When you see Tea Party members gleefully registering their passion about this complex problem, they always look like Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney who have just been told that the big high school play is finally going to be a musical. America’s financial crisis— if it can be solved at all (and I doubt that it can)— will be solved, not by passion from well meaning, enthusiastic amateurs who think you can change things with torches and pitchforks, but by informed and committed intellectuals who understand that the U.S. is not above slipping into third world status.

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