Understanding the Tea Party

So, I'm trying to understand the argument that the "tea party revolution" has, and I'm outlining some of the arguments they make in this video and this post. The latter is specific to the health-care plan, but so be it. This will be long, and I will be using a lot of quotes, because I want to get this first draft as accurate as possible. Then, later, I'll try to characterize the ideas behind them as fairly as I can (which is to say, I can't honestly do it fairly, so it will be biased, but hey, it's my blog).

  • Obama represents unlimited government, which is evil.
  • Obama represents unlimited spending (of money the gov't doesn't have), which is evil.
  • The stimulus money hasn't been spent, yet we're getting back on track, and the gov't is holding on to the money.
  • One person said "I don't know where [the government] got the idea that you can spend yourself into prosperity".
  • Obama represents tyranny, which is evil. Some have said his actions are a "despotic abuse of authority".
  • The government must be smaller. "Reduce the size and scope..."
  • The government has far exceeded the scope of the Constitution.
  • We need to return to the ideology of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.
  • Taxes must be lower. The government is taking too much of its people's money.
  • They want "smart, hard-working American people to be given the opportunity to earn, and to keep what they earn as best they can." ("That's what this country is all about.")
  • The government is taking away people's choice. Some have even said "he's trying to take away our way of life."
  • The government is getting involved in areas which it has no experience accomplishing.
  • Obama's allies will "attempt to destroy your business and reputation" if you "offer any [alternative] ideas" as in the case of Whole Foods' CEO recently.
  • Obama hasn't met with a single Republican on health care reform since April, despite calling himself bipartisan.
  • Obama claims to be centrist and willing to fight his own party, but only does so on straw-man points.
  • The health plan will destroy large businesses and force small businesses to stay small to avoid health insurance costs.
  • The health plan forces every American to have insurance, and doesn't allow them the choice not to have it.
  • Insurance companies are sure to lose money because they will have to insure those with irresponsible lifestyles.
  • Insurance companies are sure to lose money due to "mammograms and colonoscopies, on demand, no matter how needless your visit may be".
  • Government-run options "have in nearly every other arena" "crowd out" private competition, and Obama is lying when he says otherwise. Interestingly, in the same breath, they'll say things like "As we all know, if any organization has demonstrated an uncanny ability to control costs, drive innovation and foster competition, it's been government."
  • If a gov't-run insurance company could "pay for itself" and "change the dynamics of the competition", then, they argue, why can't a private company?
  • Obama is lying when he says the health care plan will cost nothing to you, and that it will not affect the deficit. They point to "the Congressional Budget Office's $900 billion estimate (and The Lewin Group's $1 trillion estimate)."
  • The health care plan may lead to government rationing for seniors.
  • It is unreasonable to expect to extract $1 trillion dollars in savings from cutting "waste" in the insurance companies.
  • The health care plan represents mandates, which are evil.
  • The health care plan represents price controls, which are evil.
  • The health care plan represents regulations, which are, for the most part, evil.
  • The health care plan represents added costs, which are evil.
  • Obama is acting politically, to push "his very own entrenched ideology."

Other things to note:

  • Most of these people are quick to say that Bush was equally guilty.
  • Most of these people are not pro-war.
  • Most of these people are not pro-life. At least, that's not their beef for now.
  • Most will identify as "former Republicans" and "Libertarians".

Problems with this analysis:

  • I am biased against it and cannot provide a fair account of their beliefs.
  • All of these are quotes, representing individual's ideas, not the beliefs of "the movement", which is a more slippery beast.


r_b_bergstrom said...

Insurance companies are sure to lose money due to "mammograms and colonoscopies, on demand, no matter how needless your visit may be".

Clearly, anyone who makes such a claim:

a) Has never had a mammogram or colonoscopy

b) Doesn't understand the procrastination or denial elements of human psychology very well, especially in regards to avoiding bad news from your doctor

c) Has some really kinky fetishes


d) All of the above

Jeremy Rice said...

While I do enjoy a good jibe at a bad argument's expense, I believe the underlying point was more one of hypochondria and frivolity in using doctor's time and hospital's resources.

...Which, by the way, is a micro-example of the whole exercise I was attempting yesterday: taking irrational arguments and trying to dig out the rational pieces of them underlying all the huffing and puffing.

And, indeed, when you ask the question about "what do you do in the < 1% of patients with hypochondria and frivolous cases?", I would likely agree that some kind of action should be taken to minimize the expenses that those few people drop in the bucket. Sure.