On Virtuous Ingratitude
The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street have, in common, a kind of virtuous ingratitude; rightfully biting the hand that feeds them.
Consider the Tea Party; one of their complaints is government welfare. Many have pointed out that many of these people are explicitly government welfare recipients. The Tea Party is largely Southern and Western and rural; and Federal spending in those areas exceeds taxation; so in effect those regions are net federal welfare recipients.
This is not by accident; in fact it is a relic from the Progressive Era and the New Deal. The idea was for the federal government to offset the corporation’s natural tendency to extract wealth from farmers and ranchers, and move that wealth to the cities. Hence a cycle; corporations extract wealth from the country and move it to the cities; government taxes the cities and gives some of that wealth back to the country.
Now consider OWS. It is the flip side of the Tea Party; for the Wall Street occupiers live in a region that is a net corporate plunder receiver; yet they object to corporate plunder. Both Tea Party and OWS object to precisely the institution that is bringing wealth in to the region. Why such ingratitude?
Because familiarity breeds contempt.
The Tea Party, in the Red areas, knows that Uncle Sam comes bearing money; but the Tea Party also knows what Sam is buying for that money, and they don’t want to sell. And OWS, sitting in at the heart of capitalism, knows that Wall Street is buying, and they too don’t want to sell.