Thursday, April 16, 2009

Keith Olberman meets Peter Griffin

The propensity on the left to refer to the tax protesting as "tea bagging" is, at best, adolescent (Beavis: They're teabagging, heh, heh. Butthead: Yeah, heh, heh, heh) and, at worst, intentionally derisive of people who they assume must be socially conservative. For those social conservatives, who may be open to arguments for a more expansive use of government to, say, reduce poverty or equalize economic circumstances, it is offputting.


Pete Gruett said...

The left referred to these protests as "teabagging" because that's what their organizers called them.

References to teabagging on left-wing sites and shows invariably included pictures and clips of protest signs, letters and Fox News personalities exhorting people to "teabag" Obama/Congress etc.

Yesterday's coverage indicates that someone at FNC may have belatedly consulted Urban Dictionary.

If I were you I'd be more indignant about the fact that one of your precious social-conservative, marriage-inequality organizations (the lolcat one) is currently hawking a support drive under an acronym that's precisely what you'd use to solicit a gay three-way on Craigslist. Way to connect with the younger generation.

Rick Esenberg said...

Oh please. Whatever some supporters of the movement called it (and googling teabagging in connection with tax protest yields links to far more critics than supporters), the use of the term by opponents is accompanied by this smirking (often explicit) sense of coolness.Didnt' they know?As far as whatever organization and support drive you are referring to, I haven't a clue.

As far as

Pete Gruett said...

Apart from being funny on a smirky "they said teabagging" level. It also speaks to the lack of self-awareness of a bunch of people who would hold an anti-tax rally to protest a tax cut or cry socialism about a tax system that's nowhere near as onerous (or progressive) as it was when we were actually still in the cold war. If Obama's a communist, what the hell was Reagan let alone Eisenhower?

And I was referring to the National Organization for (against) Marriage. NOM's Two Million for Marriage (2M4M) campaign makes them look like a couple of swingers in search of a third.

If we took these people seriously, we'd just get angry, so we don't.

Anonymous said...

Whether Pete Gruett takes "these people" seriously is irrelevant. (Who in the hell is Peter Gruett?) However, when CNN and MSNBC fail to do so, and snicker at "these people," they unnecessarily alienate millions of potential viewers and continue to make it easy for Fox to thump them in ratings.

Anonymous said...

8-11 PM ET -- RATINGS:

FOXNEWS 3,390,000
MSNBC 1,210,000
CNN 1,070,000

jp said...

Why am I not surprised by Peter's location (Madison)?

Dad29 said...

We expect condescension and a total lack of respect, not to mention sniggering.

That's the SOP for 7th grade.

John Foust said...

They laughed at the Internets, they laughed at the tubes. (Personally, I defended his analogy.)

What's next, Professor, an essay on how the conservative kids are actually the "cool" ones on campus?

Heaven knows it's hard to talk when you're teabagging. Oh, no, did the lefties just accidentally make fun of someone with an ambiguously wide political stance?

I think one of the writers for Beavis and Butthead rode the same school bus as I did in Oconomowoc. Coincidence?

You think it would be hard to imagine that the language routinely used by say, Julaine Appling, might be a little offputting to anyone who doesn't think gay people should be stoned in the public square? Or as she put it, “I think we’ve been extremely tolerant in allowing them to live wherever they choose."

Why did Fox News and the teabag contingent emphasize the OMG-the-world-is-ending anti-Obama theme instead of the potentially bigger tent of tax simplification?

William Tyroler said...

a tax system that's nowhere near as onerous (or progressive) as it was when we were actually still in the cold warMaybe. I don't know. But here's the most recent CBO table I found (includes '06 data). It shows that the top quintile (248+k) pays over 69% of the total federal tax load; the next quintile (89+k) pays over 16%. In other words, the top 40% of income-earners contribute 85% of all federal taxes. As the CBO says, "The overall federal tax system is progressive—that is, effective tax rates generally rise with income." I'll leave it to others to say whether or not it's more "progressive" now than, say, a quarter-century ago.

Seems to me that a) someone is going to have to pay for the mountain of debt Obama and the Dems are running up, but b) there's not much room to soak the "rich." And I rather suspect that the "tea bag" protests were animated by a similar suspicion.

Anonymous said...

Well, what Mr. Tyroler says makes it sound like we've got a very high degree of progressivity in our tax code. But let's look more closely at the report he cites. The first reason the top quintile pays such a high percentage -- 69.3% -- of all federal taxes is "because they earn a disproportionate share of pretax income," namely, 55.7%. The second quintile, which pays 16.5% of federal taxes, earns 19.5% of pretax income. So the top 40% of earners pay 85.8% of all federal taxes -- but they also earn 75.2% of all pretax income. This doesn't sound all that progressive to me; sounds almost flat (i.e. proportionate), in fact.

The federal income tax is fairly progressive. Payroll taxes are not. Taxpayers in the top quintile, the top ten percent, even the top one percent pay the same, in outright dollars, for payroll taxes as taxpayers somewhere in the second quintile (and this is assuming their income is wage income; in fact, more of the top quintile's income is likely to be dividends, capital gains, tax-free municipal bond income, or other investment income not subject to FICA; and, as recently reported in the press, the top quintile's true income is more likely to be underreported, since it's easier for business owners to fudge than for wage slaves to do so). As a percentage of income, payroll taxes are a lesser part of the top quintile's earnings than they are of all lower quintiles' earnings. This regressivity has increased over time, as FICA rates have increased since the immediate postwar period from something like 3% to the current 15% or so, including the employer portion. (The increases in the cap on the earnings on which FICA is imposed have been a countervailing force, reducing the regressivity somewhat.)

So, is there room to make the incidence of federal taxes more progressive than it is now? Yeah, I'd say there is. The Social Security system needs a fix. Increasing the incidence of payroll taxes on the wealthy -- perhaps by having them kick in again, maybe at a reduced rate, on incomes in excess of $250,000 -- would be a place to start. And increasing the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6% or so -- what it was in the Clinton years -- as Obama has proposed eventually doing, would not be a bad idea. (We don't need to go back to the 50% marginal rate that prevailed during most of the Reagan years, or the rates in excess of 70% that prevailed during the Eisenhower administration. Heaven forfend that we adopt the confiscatory tax policies of those Republican presidents!)

Anonymous said...

Personally, I am rather proud of the fact that I did not know what "teabagging" was colloquially and am now sorry that I do. It is another sad commentary on America today that: 1) We have such a colloquialism 2) That mainstream media would refer to the colloquial meaning as if to make a connection between it and an anti tax rally and 3) That people like pistol Pete defend the usage by finding another incidence of multiple meanings for phrases/acronyms and citing it as a point of indignation. Until '2M4M' is copyrighted as a gay request for extras, it really can be used for anything else that fits the acronym. It could also stand for two Mangoes for Mom in a text message, should the news cover it?

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