Tag Archive: Tea Party

Johann Hari’s article in The Nation on How to Build a Progressive Tea Party is one of the more exciting and inspiring pieces of news I’ve read recently. Hari recounts how a group of Twitter-linked citizens outraged by David Cameron’s £7 billion cuts to social programs when a single company, cellphone giant Vodafone, was allowed to get away without paying £6 billion in British taxes, organized to shut down Vodafone stores across the country.

All the cuts in housing subsidies, driving all those people out of their homes [200,000 in London alone, apparently], are part of a package of cuts to the poor, adding up to £7 billion. Yet the magazine Private Eye reported that one company alone—Vodafone, one of Britain’s leading cellphone firms—owed an outstanding bill of £6 billion to the British taxpayers. According to Private Eye, Vodaphone had been refusing to pay for years, claiming that a crucial part of its business ran through a post office box in ultra-low-tax Luxembourg. The last Labour government, for all its many flaws, had insisted it pay up. But when the Conservatives came to power, David Hartnett, head of the British equivalent of the Internal Revenue Service, apologized to rich people for being “too black and white about the law.” Soon after, Vodafone’s bill was reported to be largely canceled, with just over £1 billion paid in the end.

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inside job


It’s not as good a film as I would have liked — there are too many talking heads, and director/interviewer Charles Ferguson (who remains conveniently invisible throughout) has an annoying tendency to look for “gotcha” moments, when his interview subjects hesitate and stumble in answering his questions, as if these provide the smoking gun that shows us they’re lying, squirming, deceitful cheaters. They probably are (some of them at least), so relying on these techniques isn’t really necessary and it makes too easy targets of them as individuals.

But Inside Job still manages to pack a lot of information into a cogent and easily understandable narrative. It is, in fact, probably the best two-hour summary of what happened to bring about the recent, and ongoing, economic crisis, and of who’s primarily responsible for it. The film points its finger at the deregulator economists and the type-A personalities on Wall Street who took advantage of the opportunities deregulation offered for making millions at the expense of the rest of us dupes, and at the revolving doors between government and capital that have corrupted democracy to the point where it’s bringing about its own downfall. (The first “it” being the corruption, the second being democracy.*)

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letter to a Tea Party sympathizer

As another political season (leading to the midterm elections) winds down here in the US, people get wound up. Here’s part of something I wrote to a friend who happens to be a Tea Party sympathizer – which surprised me when I found this out, but life is full of surprises, and meeting them mindfully keeps things interesting.

[. . .]

“I completely agree with you about special interest groups being too powerful in the U.S. It’s one of the reasons why I originally hesitated to move here when I was offered a job at the University of Wisconsin ten years ago. (The U.S. has ten times as many people, and ten times as many universities, than Canada, so it was likelier that I’d find a job – which I was looking for at the time – in the U.S. than at home.)

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