18 April 2010

The mindless (il)logic of a Tea Party enthusiast

Early yesterday morning, Valerie and Rob Shirk corralled their 10 home-schooled children into their van for the 2 1/2-hour drive from their home in Connecticut to Boston, arriving just in time to hear Sarah Palin denounce government-run health care at the tea party movement rally on Boston Common.

They thought it would be a learning opportunity for their children, who range in age from 9 months to 15 years old and who held up signs criticizing the government for defying the “will of the people.’’

“The problem in this country is that too many people are looking for handouts,’’ said Valerie Shirk, 43, of Prospect, Conn. “I agree with the signs that say, ‘Share my father’s work ethic — not his paycheck.’ We have to do something about the whole welfare mentality in this country...’’

The couple, who rely on Medicaid for their health care, were also upset about the nation’s new health reforms.

When asked why her family used state-subsidized health care when she criticized people who take handouts, Valerie Shirk said she did not want to stop having children, and that her husband’s income was not enough to cover the family with private insurance.

“I know there’s a dichotomy because of what we get from the state,’’ she said. “But I just look at each of my children as a blessing.’’

Text from Boston.com via Reddit.


  1. Another dichotomy: if they are covered by Medicaid, they probably don't make enough money to pay income taxes, and Teabaggers are MOST concerned about paying taxes to fund other people's insurance.

    If you point out things like this to people, they say, "But that's different." This woman is specifically using government benefits in order to have more children, but if you called her a welfare queen, she'd say "But that's different -I take benefits to have children, and a welfare queen has children to get benefits." What? Meanwhile, we have tons of people with real illnesses and no insurance because they make just a little bit more money than this family, or don't have enough children to qualify.

    Add this story to the many who want the government to stay out of their health insurance while they benefit from Medicare.

  2. There is nothing illogical about her position. Like most of the tea partiers, she is in favor of benefits that come to her but opposed to benefits that go to others. It my be simple minded, but there is a logic to it.

    I think the main reason for the tea party movement is that the election of Obama, a "different" kind of politician, triggered a pent up fear in the heretofore favored class that more handouts could be shifting to "different" Americans.

    Bottom line: They want to keep what they have, even if they already have more than they deserve.

  3. Unfortunately, so true. As someone in favor of smaller government, I still have to deal with people who like the sound bites, but don't really understand what they are saying. My favorite question to ask: Have you looked at the national budget, and if so, what would you cut from it? So far, no one has any real specifics, just the general answers they've heard from talking heads who are big on words and short on reality. The truth is, it would be very painful to cut the budget, but it needs done. I didn't vote for Ron Paul, but he was right: cut our military budget in half. It's the only hope of making a real dent in the deficit.

  4. I agree with Mike; I'd slash the military and have means-testing for Social Security.

    If I were Obama, I'd also cut all farm subsidies and then cancel the 'death tax' for farmers - we'd probably come out ahead a few billion dollars right there while calling their bluff.

    I encountered quite a few older people in Washington DC last weekend, a great many of them probably on social security and Medicare - quite a few probably paying no taxes at all and more than a few can name no areas to cut. Andrew Sullivan has a good post today about where our tax dollars go - 61% go to the military, medicare, and social security.

    If you're going to complain, please have solutions on hand - there has to be shared sacrifice somewhere. I'd be willing to start phasing out the interest on my mortgage over the next five years - it would hurt, but I wouldn't mind it if we were able to get the country back on some stable footing.

  5. Actually, the one thing that no one has suggested is that not only should we repeal toot-suite Bush's Tax Cuts, but in fact we should really reverse said tax cuts. In other words, if you received a 10% cut in your taxes under Bush's plan, now you'll receive a 10% INCREASE in your taxes, above and beyond what Bush cut or in other words a total of a 20% tax increase. In other words, TAX THE RICH. Doing that, and cutting the military would certainly help with the deficit. But that's not going to happen anytime soon

  6. Do you all really think that this woman is representative of all tea partiers? I would think you would be a little more open-minded and less likely to name call. You seem like an intelligent person...It really bothers me to see so many of my "liberal" friends jump to this type of judgement, assuming all tea partiers are racist rednecks. You really have no idea how you sound, do you?

  7. I'm not liberal, but far from it. I think the "illogic" can be easily found no matter what side you are looking at. The reason is because of human nature & psychology. I've studied people for a long time. We are ALL prone to holding irreconcilable beliefs at the same time. It's quite fascinating actually. I can even see it in myself (and you could also see it in yourself if you were truly honest with yourself. Try it) It's one of the reasons government has it so hard. The leaders must deal with these contradictory beliefs, and make policy. So they give us what we want, but then they make "future generations" pay for it, since we aren't willing to shoulder the cost.
    We think congresspeople should all be kicked out (and the vast majority of us are in favor of term limits), yet we keep voting our own congresspeople back in year after year. More contradiction.

    To answer your charge, 'Anonymous', I certainly don't think tea-partyers are racist rednecks. In fact I know for a fact many (most) are decent people, and the major concern is large government. I am sympathetic to that, though I haven't attended any rallies as my friends have.

    I SHOULD have posted in my first comment my objection to the title of this post, as it is demeaning and crude, and beneath the dignity of the blogger. So I will register my disappointment here now. The use of the word 'tea-bagger' is offensive and derogatory. You could do better, Stan.

  8. Thank you, Mike. Well said. I agree with your stance on smaller government. Thomas Jefferson once said, "A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have." The first time I heard this quote, I really started questioning Everything...on both sides.

  9. This woman is hardly representative of Tea-Party members ("tea-bagger" is a demeaning term used in an ad-hominem attack on the person, rather than the ideals, and as such I don't feel it has any real place in polite language). Like Mike said, she's for anything that can help her, but against anything that won't, even if it "won't" in her mind only.

    I'm sad to see the story, but I'm also sad to see this type of political tripe posted here.

  10. "So they give us what we want, but then they make "future generations" pay for it, since we aren't willing to shoulder the cost."
    -This sums up the entire idea of being conservative for me. Greed, that is. You just said it better than I would have.

    "We are ALL prone to holding irreconcilable beliefs at the same time. It's quite fascinating actually. I can even see it in myself (and you could also see it in yourself if you were truly honest with yourself."
    It's what was in my mind when I replied to the first quote.

  11. I really tried not to jump in on this, but couldn't help it. My first thought with regard to the "Tea Party enthusiast" is, briefly, go figure. It is easy to find fault with the actions of others, even when you are guilty of committing the same offenses, but justify them with some ridiculous excuse for reason. I certainly do not agree with her reasons for making use of Medicaid. Seems to me it's at least a case of biting the hand that feeds you.

    As for taxes. I certainly do not like paying higher taxes (actually, taxes in general), but consider just three of the things funded by taxpayer dollars--public roads, public libraries, public schools--then think about what the situation would be like if these things were privatized. I seriously doubt that there would be much savings for the individual.

    One other observation as I passed a state lottery sign in Tennessee recently: there are folks who complain about paying taxes for things that benefit them on a daily basis, but then take their hard-earned money and buy lottery tickets week after week with the hope of striking it rich. I have no problem with state lotteries, but sometimes I just don't understand the logic of some people.

  12. The biggest difference between a lottery and a tax is one is voluntary, the other is compulsory. Not quite apples to apples, wouldn't you say?

    As for the public roads, libraries and schools, I think the biggest reason that there really aren't any private roads has more to do with the logistics involved in one person or corporation buying land required for them - the costs outweigh the returns. Besides, the government has eminent domain. There are private libraries, hundreds of them, and I think they work just fine, thank you very much. And you must be joking if you really don't know about private schools.

    Make no mistake - whether you tax individuals or mom & pop businesses or corporations, the consumer shoulders the burden. Saying that you will tax the rich is like saying you'll just borrow from one credit card to pay another. The money comes from somewhere, and they didn't get rich by accident (the ones that stay rich, anyway). Whether you mandate that people must carry health insurance does nothing for the quality of health care received, and hiding costs of boondoggle programs just lets you sleep better at night, pretending that your hard earned money didn't go to those projects you didn't whole-heartedly support.

  13. I love how once again the actions of a few are used to paint an entire conglomerate of people. According to the literature I've received from my local Tea Party, of which I'm a member, the Tea Party's primary platform plank espouses fiscal responsibility. I think that the opening lines of the Mount Vernon Statement explains it the best: We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding. Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law. They sought to secure national independence, provide for economic opportunity, establish true religious liberty and maintain a flourishing society of republican self-government.

    We should as well.


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