Racism, last hired/first fired, undiversified investments, wage based incomes, low education, and who knows what else caused this disparity in economic decline. The bigger lessons are, however, political. As I’ve claimed before, the Tea Party fervor over their economic current plight is justified but exaggerated.
The gap in income and wealth has grown wider and wider during the last 35 years, for whites and everyone else. But white declines are not as great as Latino and Black declines. Either whites are just oblivious to the plight of minorities, which is a likely possibility, or they have other reasons for elevating their own poor situation. It’s probably both.
As I’ve written before, I think that many Tea Party members have racist reasons for savagely attacking Obama, his policies, the deficit, health care reform, and government in general. They are not just oblivious. They are also resentful and fearful, primarily of increasing numbers of Latinos and other foreigners who, they believe, will tap into the government faucet at their taxpayer expense. As Judson Phillips, a Tea Party Nation founder, claimed, “The Tea Party wants America to stop incurring debt obligations and to cut back on the wasteful spending already in place.”
Despite all the silly and irrational talk about how America has to “live within its means,” Tea Partiers have no problem with spending and debt as long as it is for the military. They hate any spending that goes for social programs and yet want to protect social security and medicare. This appears like a contradiction until you realize that they are making a distinction. “Social programs,” such as welfare and food stamps, are the ones that Latinos, Blacks, and the undocumented use. Those other, non-means tested, programs are for the white middle class. Middle class whites are angry and frustrated. They blame and want both political parties thrown out of office. But they are especially angry and resentful about Latinos, Blacks, and the undocumented because Tea Partiers believe that these groups have found a way to suck milk from the government tit provided by taxing the white middle class. It sounds absurd, but how else to explain the extraordinary contradictions in the Tea Party positions as well as the extreme and hateful depictions they offer of President Obama.
One example was Tea Party and Republican Carl Paladino‘s campaign for governor of New York State. At one point Paladino advocated that welfare recipients be placed in some New York prisons that would be transformed “into dormitories for welfare recipients, where they could work in state-sponsored jobs, get employment training and take lessons in “personal hygiene.” Paladino eventually lost the election to Andrew Cuomo, but the racist and moronic ideas of the Tea Party live on. One example is the doctored image below that Paladino sent by email of President Obama as a pimp and his wife Michelle as a prostitute.