“Chicago Tea Party”? Don’t Think It Can’t Happen
February 20, 2009 3 Comments
Rick Santelli was riled today when he reported on CNBC from the trading floor in Chicago. On national television he said he’s about ready to organize a Chicago-based tea party. This in response to the federal budget plan to subsidize the mortgages of fiscally irresponsible Americans using the tax money of solvent Americans. He makes a good point. Several good points, in fact.
First, fiscally responsible Americans don’t want to pay the bill for borrowers who can’t keep up with their mortgages.
Second, fiscally responsible Americans shouldn’t have to pay the bill for borrowers who can’t make their payments.
Third, this plan doesn’t rob the rich to give to the poor. It takes from every tax-paying American and turns it over as free cash to people who can afford to rent but can’t afford to buy.
Fourth, there are ways to get the federal government to pay attention, ways the government is totally unprepared for.
For example, what do you think would happen if 30% of all Americans with an income of $50,000 or more organized to do the following two things:
- Convert all of their assets held in the stock market and at banks and credit unions into cold, hard cash (or gold bars holed up in their bank’s safe deposit boxes)?
- Refused to pay income tax for 18 months (or indefinitely)?
The second action might provoke the government to garnish their assets and leave them all out on the street without food and shelter. But would the government go that far? It would surely compound a crisis.
What about the first option? Why shouldn’t Americans start cashing all their payroll checks and keep minimum deposits in their accounts to write checks as needed? Maybe their money is safer under the mattress at home than it is in the coffers of large banks.
For good measure, they could pledge a moratorium on unnecessary spending. They could close their credit card accounts. They could cancel subscriptions to everything there is to subscribe to, including cable television. They could reduce their use of cell phones to one per family. They could buy groceries instead of eating out. They could stay home and work in the garden instead of taking vacations. They could limit their use of gasoline to what they need for getting back and forth to work.
Heck. They could get to know their spouses and children. Maybe even some of their neighbors. They could have more BBQs. They could find more creative ways to entertain themselves—like read a few of the books they’ve purchased over the past ten years. They could listen to all the “crazy right-wingers” who dominate the airwaves—at least until radio stations are no longer able to pay their bills because nobody can afford to advertise what nobody’s buying.
Some Americans already feel like the President’s “stimulus” package is tantamount to garnishing their assets. When it comes to elections, economic concerns trump most other concerns. People vote to preserve their capital, or to get a slice of the capital earned by someone else. But what do the People do when they’ve just had a general election and the next opportunity to vote is four years away—and they’re scared to death?
The answer might depend on how far the President goes with his apocalyptic pronouncements about the economy and how much fear it causes. There’s no telling what people who fear for their economic future might do.
Was Rick Santelli serious? Maybe. Maybe not. But the stock market is at a six-year low as of today. So things are happening, even without a concerted effort.
Note: I attended a small gathering for one of our U. S. senators today. The senator commented on the recently passed stimulus bill. The bill was well over 1000 pages long, and senators were allowed eight hours to digest its contents and vote. At today’s gathering, the senator suggested that this was deliberate. So sponsors of the bill got what they wanted. But I wonder, will they get what they bargained for? In due course, the bill will be digested and re-digested. It will be subjected to close examination and the truth will be outed. And it won’t be too late for a vigorous electorate to experience rage, even with the President’s signature on it.