Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Anchorage and Wasilla Tax Day Tea Party Events - Part One

Between teaching morning and evening UAA classes, I spent over three hours at the noon Anchorage, and tea time Wasilla Tea Party events Thursday. I took about 40 pictures and interviewed 63 people. I polled them on actions, views and hopes.

It was a brisk and sunny early afternoon in Anchorage, with most people donning gloves for warmth. In the mid-afternoon semi-sun in Wasilla, it was warmer, and people seemed more comfortable with the air.

Though the chill was gone from the air, at first, I felt the people in Wasilla were more icy. Part of the reason for this, was that the Wasilla event was fairly tightly organized, and speakers from a trailer podium egged them on, one stating the local police were there to keep liberals from disrupting the event.

I counted two of us. In Anchorage there had been almost 20. There were no disruptions whatsoever at either event. The Wasilla cheerleader was using red herring pom-poms.

I counted 225 in Anchorage at 1:30. When I left the Wasilla event at 5:20, I had counted about 500. More people were arriving than leaving when I left Wasilla.

My overall impression was one of frustration, more than of anger from participants. Only a few people refused to talk to me, all middle-aged males. Many conversations ended upbeat and warm.

I had hoped to poll about 90 people between the two events, but only got 42 in Anchorage and 21 in Wasilla. Discussions during and after polling slowed the process.

In Wasilla, I bumped into several friends who I hadn't seen in a long time. From coaching, scouting, shooting and directing the Valley's community band for 13 years, I've made a lot of friends from all across the political spectrum. We had catching up to do whenever I encountered old friends. Kids I've coached honked from the Parks Highway, rolled down their windows and yelled messages from their siblings to me, as they waited for lights to change from red to green.

The demography of the Wasilla crowd was very different from that of last year's tax day rally, as my Part Two report tomorrow may clearly show.
I'll go through the polls in a post then. For now, here are some pictures.


Other Alaska Coverage:

Living in Tok - Tea Party

The Alaska Dispatch

The Anchorage Daily News

Andrew Halcro

- intensely dishonest journalism by Jason Lamb

The Mudflats


Anonymous said...

ADN: Anchorage mom Tiffany Borges brought her daughters -- 5-year-old Vivian and 2-year-old Margaret.

"What is liberty?" she asked Vivian, who sat in a wagon with her sister.

"Freedom from being controlled by other people," the girl replied.

"I agree," Borges said.

She's put time and effort into training a child to respond with a set phrase about liberty, and cannot even understand the irony.

Chris said...

Interesting photos and commentary. Thanks for taking the time to check it out. I'm curious as to "part two." Can you talk a bit about the interaction (if any) between the anti-war folks and the anti-tax folks? It sounds like they were across the street from each other.


crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

Thanks Phil for reporting on this.
Probably allot of teabags showed up in Wasilla to make the queen

Anonymous said...

Phill, I was looking for you at the Wasilla gathering. I wanted alittle fame via getting photographed, by you, and put on your blog. My job at the gathering was passing out condoms to all the young men packing a gun.

My free condoms (with a blue elephant on the package) was a hit. All 50 of them were gone in the first hour and half.

Just doing my part for the Mat Su Valley.

(So I do have some white iris seeds and/or root clumps for you and I did bring them just in case we met. Maybe next time.)


freeper said...

Proving only that the 'Tea Party' crowd is very small, and badly misinformed fringe minority which doesn't rate the excess attention paid to them.

The space here devoted to a few wack jobs gathering to congratulate each other on their wackiness could have been used to further more pertinent and more relevant issues and ideas.

As it is, it's thoroughly wasted space.

There is no justification to obsess about this fringe day after day after day.

jamie said...

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner ran a short bit on the "dozens" who rallied up here. Kinda like 4th of July fireworks in the midnight sun: occasionally loud noises but not much of a show.
We drove past to check out the evening performance with the intention of maybe getting a few pics, but it was down to a handful of folks, mostly grim-looking and angry, and probably aware of the hypocrisy behind all the scorn they've traditionally heaped on protesters over the past administration.
Definitely gave perspective to the disproportionate amount of attention and hype of the movement that's supposedly sweeping the nation.

Philip Munger said...


Dang! Missed you. I'll be there at Memorial Day, which isn't too late to plant white iris rhizomes.

jim said...

Hope this isn't off topic, but regarding taxes and the national debt:

I was a Hammond republican, but I got disgusted with Reagan's and Bush's massive debt. Of course Congress has the constitutional power to borrow from the treasury, but the president has obvious powers. Clinton was the only one who held down spending. Then came Bush 2-- what a disaster. Now I don't think Obama has had any choice but to use debt to fund economic stimulus in order to avoid another great depression.

People like Tea Baggers who claim democrats are fiscally irresponsible may be naive. I think democrats are more fiscally responsible than republicans, especially nationally.

Halcro had some interesting comments at his blog-- 82 percent of the national debt was run up during republican presidential administrations. My theory why-- money is power-- the more money you have to spend, the more power you have. Republican administrations ran up debt so they'd have more power, but their successors (often democrats) had more limited resources because they had to undo the fiscal damage done by irresponsible republican administrations (ironically giving future republican administrations more room to inflict more fiscal damage).

And so these cycles will probably continue, Tea Party or not. But as Greece and Spain show, we will need to get our debt under control or we will face the consequences. If Greece experiences a sovereign default, we will all feel it. Greece seems to be heading in that direction.

Philip Munger said...


Andrew Halcro's essay on this was surprisingly good.

jim said...

A possible more rational option to the Tea Party would be the Concord Coalition:

Paul Tsongass was one of the founders, and his loss to cancer was huge.

Anonymous said...

What does the sign "beluga, the other white meat" suppose to mean?

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 1159am:

That's exactly why I'm posting here. What on earth DOES that mean?

freeper said...

JIm has a really stupid suggestion.

The Concordia Coalition is chaired by Warren Rudman,

who helped author the Gramm-Rudman Act.

You know that act that was found to be unconstitutional, not to mention a total failure.

Pete Peterson, the president of the Concordia Coalition is the former CEO of Lehman Brothers (yep, that Lehman Brothers....

Old Pete is currently head of Blackstone, you know, AIG, Kissinger and Associates.

Blackstone was Enron's principle financial advisor. (do I need remind you of what went on at Enron ?)

Blackstone was in charge of Global Crossing. Remember billions of dollars of insider trading scandal ?

Jim imagines that the folks at the Concordia Coalition, (who were directly responsible for massive failure on a world wide scale), might be a rational alternative to the tea-baggers.

Jeeebus, gawd .......we're surrounded by morons.


Chris said...

Hey Jim, don't feel bad. Freeper has a compulsive need to personally insult other people, and an aversion to providing any sort of evidence to support his opinions. I suggest that you don't feed the trolls.

I think both parties are addicted to spending money. Sure, from both sides you hear arguments to "cut earmarks" and "curtain foreign aid." But those things are minuscule parts of the budget. To really tackle the structural problems you need to drastically cut military spending (Republicans won't have that) and entitlement programs (nobody will have that). You need to expand the tax base (Democrats won't tolerate it) and close tax loopholes (neither party is interested). We'll probably need some inflation too (that's easy -- no politician will be blamed for that as long as it is kept to a reasonable level). I am also disappointed by the huge spending of the Bush administration, but doubling down (well, actually tripling down) and simultaneously refusing to address structural long term problems is not terribly impressive either. I mean, ok, maybe we need to spend now -- but the 2011 budget has no game plan for addressing the mid to long term issues which are structural in nature. I'm not an economist but the CBO, Treasury Secretary, etc are all indicating that we need to look at taking action, soon (I'm pretty sure this is where Freeper will tell us that the CBO is a right wing partisan hack).

The solutions will be terribly difficult to impose. Heck, even among the tea party crowd, entitlement programs have broad support. Raising taxes is toxic. Even Democrats don't really want to cut military spending, especially if it impacts a base in their district. Attempting real solutions will be political suicide. I don't know exactly what the solution looks like -- probably all of the above -- but the hyper-partisan atmosphere we have now is not going to help.


jim said...

Thanks Chris.

I'm not concerned about the negative comments, especially from someone who calls it "Concordia" and not "Concord." Wow, he's a real authority on the topic. I like the fact that Phil tries to allow a wide range of views. I agree this person could have made his point politely.

I pretty much agree with your assessment of our government's handling of the federal budget. It seems to rely on just one component of fiscal policy-- borrowing from the treasury. But it sure is difficult for them to run surpluses in good years to try to bring down the debt. Borrowing makes sense some of the time, but not all of the time. I hope our treasury will never default.

Chris said...

No worries, just figured I'd warn you. He also can't tolerate not getting the last word so brace yourself for a return. If you check some of the previous comments you'll see some of the back and forth.

I don't think the treasury will default. I think it is more likely we'll see higher inflation because monetizing the debt is politically expedient.

"By a continuous process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method, they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some....The process engages all of the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner that not one man in a million can diagnose." - John Maynard Keynes Economic Consequences of the Peace, 1920

Eventually there may be defaults on entitlement obligations (such as reductions of SS/medicare benefits) because that is less painful than defaulting to foreign creditors. A sneakier way to do that would be to underreport the actual rate of inflation by manipulating the "basket" of consumer goods, because the benefits are indexed to the government inflation index, not to actual prices. I personally view my FICA taxes as a charitable contribution and do not count on them at all for my retirement. That money is just a tithe (more than the historic tithe, for our self-employment income at least...) to charity. I hope that when I retire, if I actually see anything out of SS, I can donate it all because I will have saved enough on my own to take care of myself.

I also expect to see more "stealth" taxes. By that I mean taxes which "soak the rich" but are not indexed to inflation, causing more middle class people fall into them each year. We've already seen this in the healthcare bill; a lot of those taxes are not indexed at all (like the dividends taxes) or are indexed to the CPI, not to inflation in medical care (which has tended to outstrip general inflation), so more and more people every year will have "cadillac" plans. It is the same phenomena we observe with the annual ritual of raising the AMT cutoff. We may also see more stealth taxes which are not immediately obvious to the citizens but which are passed on to the average Joe nonetheless (like a VAT or the healthcare bill's tax on rental income). Sin taxes are also obvious; more taxes on booze, tobacco products, "extravagant" vehicles, "extravagant" vacations, rental/vacation homes, etc.

I wish that we could deal with these issues openly and up front. There would likely be less corruption and waste then, and a higher chance of actually developing a sane budget. But that seems unlikely. Nobody -- on either side of the aisle -- has an incentive to act responsibly on this issue.


freeper said...

jim slides effortlessly past addressing any of the facts that demonstrate the substantive idiocy of his suggestion that the concord coalition was, or could ever have been considered a sane alternative to anything at all.

After your suggestion, jim, was categorically proven to be nothing but the unintelligent idiocy it was, your only fallback was to give unwarranted importance to a misspelling that was immaterial to the otherwise quantifiable validity and accuracy of the evidence I had offered up to demonstrate that your suggested 'alternative' was something clearly ill-conceived, idiotic and uncomprehendingly doltish and dimwitted.

And Chris can only make a statement as fraudulent as this ,

"Freeper has .... an aversion to providing any sort of evidence to support his opinions. continuing to ignore, and continue to demonstrate he's basically incapable of responding to the evidence I most surely did provide.

Suppose you support your contention that the Concord Coalition and the policies supported by the leaders of the Concord Coalition could provide sane direction, jim ?

No ?

You want to distance yourself from your own suggestion ?

I don't blame you.

(that doesn't mean I'd be willing to elevate or alter my determination that you and your suggestion remain idiotic and daft.)

But that is your only spoken concern in reply.

You think I was 'impolite'.

Poor you. Cue up the smelling salts and bring out the feinting couch, jim is liable to swoon at any moment.

Spare me your overweening and imperious enfeeblement, and your fragile delicate sensibilities

You say you'd be accepting of a polite dismissal of your idiotic and moronic boneheadedness ?

Provide the 'polite' verbiage that says the same thing, jim, and I'll endorse your preference for that verbiage too.

Either way you wish to slice it or dice it, it would have to mean the same thing.

Your suggestion was idiotic.

Don't forget imprudent means the same thing as unintelligent, ill-advised, thoughtless, short-sighted and rash.

Reckless and unwise idiocy can't be dressed up to be anything other than what it is.

You desire polite discussion of polity ?

Proffering asinine suggestions, (such as you surely did), isn't civilized, sophisticated, diplomatic or deferential.

Offering up the suggestion you made is only tactless, disrespectful and impertinent.

(or in simple summation, descriptive in one word, ...rude)


Chris said...

Jim, I'm going to lean out and make an unsolicited suggestion here. I'd advise that you just ignore Freeper. Anything you write will just encourage him. You can review some of our discussions over recent posts; I've tried to engage him in polite, reasonable discourse like an adult in civil society, but at this point, time-out is the best policy.

On another note, thanks for the point out to the Concord Coalition. I wasn't really familiar with them at all, and while I'm not deeply familiar with any potential controversies -- or their executive leadership's affiliations -- it looks like a reasonable and sane organization, at least at face value. Co-chaired by Bob Kerrey (MOH winner), at least somewhat bipartisan, and most importantly, trying to reach some sort of fiscal sanity with regards to our mid and long term budget. Their analysis of complicated and emotional issues like the recent HCR bill seems at least somewhat evenhanded and sober. Seems reasonable to me! I'll have to keep an eye on them in the future.


Anonymous said...

Having no clue what it is he might be talking about, Chris now claims the Concord Coalition is sane.

How sane is the Concord Coalition ? Not at all sane.

The Concord Coalition lobbied for extending all the Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy even after Bush was ousted.

But here's Chris, self-described arm-chair advisor and all around go to guy, advocating for the adoption of Concord Coalition style policies.

And he touts none other than Concord CoChair Bob Kerry to bolster his uninformed burbling about 'fiscal sanity'.

Bob Kerry voted for Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, making Kerry one of the principles in leading the nation to economic ruin.

Fiscal sanity ? Bob Kerry, or the Concord Coalition ?

Bob Kerry's record is littered with his support for deregulation, corporate welfare, and all around fiscal insanity.

Needless to says, Bob's and the Concord's fiscal policies caused massive failures.

But here's Chris saying that represents fiscal sanity.. Moronic idiocy.

I see Chris mentions Kerry's medal of honor.

I see he doesn't mention Kerry's participation in war crimes in Thanh Phong or the chance he was fragged by his own Seal team.

One has to wonder what this right wing loon is doing camped out at a blog site that's called Progressive Alaska when Chris hasn't done anything but advocate for the tea-bagger style Repugnant Libertarian idiocy through repetition of wingnut talking points.

Chris is a transparently moronic and idiotic fraud.