I would like to do a piece on my blog, Releasing Religion, regarding mixing God & government.  And I'd like to know what opinions people have here about doing such a thing.  Some points to mention are:

Glenn Beck is well known for arguing that we have misunderstood that founding fathers & their desire to keep church & state separate.  Holding his rally on 8/28, he gathered 150.000 people to hear him talk about bringing out country "back to God".  What do you think it would do to our country to "get back to God"? 

The Tea Party has been called racist Chrisotcrats. In their recent convention, most conference sessions began with prayers.  What do you think of the Tea Party?  Do you know very little about them?  Do you know a lot?  Please share your thoughts here.

The piece will be posted on www.releasingreligion.blogspot.com

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It hit me over the head. It was the middle of the financial crisis as I was watching my 401K dwindle away when I realized how important it was that I improve my critical thinking skills. I simply did not feel I could not trust anyone.

It started with religion, then god belief. Both fell pretty easily after reading a few books, and listening to podcasts.

Giving up my political views was much more difficult. The term "conservative" fit me well - like a warm blank. Alas, it just didn't hold up after a careful and objective evaluation. Leaving both of these ideologies was one of the best things I have ever done.

Re Palin, I think she is the prototypical TP. Generally a decent person but incapable of intelligent, independent thought and discourse.
Okay, now I'll attempt to elaborate on a few of their "solutions". I'd tackle more, but as I suggested earlier, these are complicated issues. A "Return to God" just doesn't cut it as a workable solution.

-Lower Taxes: What they fail to understand is that "lowering taxes" doesn't refer to them (or at least the vast majority of them). Any discussion of tax cuts means lower taxes for the wealthy, not for the lower and middle classes. The poor pay no income taxes and the middle class pays very low effective rates. A person that just barely makes the top 10% of income earners, has an effective federal income tax of less than 5% of their total earnings. The vast majority of income earners will pay even less.

-Limit government regulation of private business:
Again, what they don't understand is that this "regulation of private business" protects them! My god (sorry, old habit), but they don't seem to have a clue that the financial catastrophe the we just went through is directly related to the DEREGULATION of the financial industry. Pennies on the dollar spent on regulations and regulatory agencies are insurance against the bank failures that keep the world economy afloat. And they think we should reduce those regulations?

They really have no sense of what life was like before "govt regulation of private business" because they never experienced it and don't read history. They never experienced children working in mines, not having safey precautions, 6/7 day workweeks, poverty level wages, no social safety net, discrimination, smog, etc, etc.

These crimes were committed against their own kind, including many of their recent ancestors. And they want a return to this? So they can get screwed yet again?

-Privatize Social Security: they want this after just having experienced a financial meltdown? How short their memories are!

-Repeal Healthcare Reform: this one really kills me.

They sit there watching their premiums rise faster than other expenses year after year. They see their employer cutting back on health care benefits. They see jobs that used to provide health care going away, to be replaced by part time jobs at Walmart. They get "claim denied" forms back from their insurer. They see people being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. They see their friends, relatives and children going bankrupt due to uninsured/underinsured health care costs.

Perhaps they even know people that have died because of lack of access to health care (45,000 per year according to a Harvard study).

Yet apparently they "like it" because they say "No Govt Run Health care". WTF???

Again, I don't think they are stupid, they are, however, emotional. They let their emotions drive them frantic and they so want to blame someone - anyone for their ills. Then they turn to Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, Marc Levin, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, right wing radio and Fox News to help them understand who the bad guys really are.

Thus, you get the tea party.
This is very good stuff, Larry. So that is what people are talking about when they refer to the Tea Party helping the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

I see your points in all of these. And I think the platform they're standing on is they think Obama is running our county into debt. Is is just about "sticking it to the man" as it were.

Where does the "getting back to God" come in. When tea partiers mention that to me, I wonder, "Which God would that be?" And in what way would they see God getting into the government?
I really don't think even they know the answer to that. They throw that term around like they used to say we should return to the "moral foundation of this country". If they only knew what the moral foundation of the country was really like perhaps they wouldn't be quite so enamored with this idea.
--- LarryL --- Any discussion of tax cuts means lower taxes for the wealthy, not for the lower and middle classes. The poor pay no income taxes and the middle class pays very low effective rates. A person that just barely makes the top 10% of income earners, has an effective federal income tax of less than 5% of their total earnings.

I thank you for your insider insight, but am curious where you got those figures? When I was at an average income of $20,000/year my taxes were right around 13%. At $10,000 /year around 10%. I barely make enough in unemployment right now to maintain a homeless lifestyle and I'm still being taxed. The crux of my financial demise is my tax debt from my 9/11 layoff.

That said, as one coworker put it when our company bragged about our 3% pay raise; "3% of zero is zero." Likewise, a percentage point or two change in my tax rate either way has very little noticeable effect. A 3% change in a millionaire's tax rate is, to them, also hardly noticeable, but to the rest of us, a huge help (or hurt, depending on which way that tax change swings).

On limiting regulation - I hear ya. I for one am quite glad that the grocery store isn't allowed to let the raw fish touch the cooked fish, and that the brakes on my vehicle, by law, have to work.

On privatizing Social Security - Oh yeah. That will work. *eyeroll*

On health reform - My first one-on-one with a Teabagger on this was a woman on both social security and medicare. On medicare; crying "No government health care!"

Words escape me.
US tax bracket info.

Jo, I'm not sure if you're referring to gross income or Adjusted Gross Income, but your income tax rate would only apply to the amount of AGI over the $8,375 figure. Of course, there are additional payroll taxes, so the overall tax burden is more complicated than the income tax rate.

Your overall point is correct, however. Lower income people cannot escape paying certain taxes, whereas wealthy people can. One of the stupidest things in the tax code is the Social Security tax maximum earnings amount of $106,800 for 2009 and 2010 (it didn't change this year because CPI inflation was so low). I was fortunate enough to earn above the cap (it was lower then) for several years. Every fall, my take-home pay would go up for the remainder of the year, because I had already paid the maximum FICA amount. How the hell does that make any sense? Give a tax break to people who earn enough not to need one? Social Security would be in a helluva lot better shape if they just did away with the annual cap, which many executives hit by spring. Working stiffs have FICA withholding on every dollar they earn.
Frankly, I was using myself to come up with my numbers. I'm in the top 10% of income earners (barely). After all my deductions, and the expected refund, my effective federal income tax is 5 or 6% compared to my GROSS income. Yes, my tax rate is higher than that on my taxable income, but I think the gross income comparison is a more accurate representation.

I'm also done paying FICA for the year. Frankly, while I like the bigger take home pay, it's a little embarrasing.

I ran some numbers on this the other day. The REALLY high income earners, like professional athletes, are done paying FICA on their first paycheck of the year.
Overall, I think their rally cry of fiscal conservatism carries enough weight in a lot of american's eyes to do very well in 20 days, but I hope their real platform of social conservatism backfires in their face.

I think it may be falling into the Dems favor because I think most voters aren't on the fringes of social and economic lines and the tea party comes across as extreme.
And yet with this upcoming election, they are stating that the Republicans will reclaim much of the government. The Tea Party must be carrying some weight in this. You mention that the Tea Party "comes across" as extreme. Do you think that's accurate? Do you think they're getting treated unfairly by the media?
Traditionally, the minority power almost always does well in the midterms. So either way it would/will take a small miracle for the Democrats to retain control of both houses.
I don't know any Tea Partiers personally. From what I've gathered from all of the news media is that the Tea Party is irrational, unreasonable, delusional, racist and slightly insane. It bothers me that this many people might think in those ways. It's insane! Their message is very mixed. The parts of their message about government seem to follow basic Republican lines with a heavy Libertarian bent. The underlying theme of Christian unity to take America 'back to god' is an attempt to change history. Which is again ridiculous because the rest of the entire known world knows the truth. It could never work. The separation of church and state is pretty clear in the constitution. The Supreme Court would smack down any overtly religious amendments.

As to Glenn Beck, he is obviously either delusional and unable to reason or he is a liar. There is nothing about our founding fathers that was devout or fundamentalist. The ones I learned about in school were part of the Enlightenment. Liberty from government forever was their number one agenda. That is why we have the Bill of Rights. It is called the bill of RIGHTS because we have the right to not have some religious authority make the laws for the rest of us people. No church in government. What kills me is that government officials are citizens and as such have the right to not have any religious authority over themselves as government officials and they refuse to exercise it. Government officials have all the authority they need and they don't need religious authority on top of what they have. Our founding fathers saw that one coming.

Glenn Beck is a morally bankrupt human being. The worst kind. I don't understand how anyone can believe anything he says.
So Jacob, I hear the same things about the Tea Party (irrational, racist, unreasonable). Do you think those are true portrayals of them, or is the media portraying them in a negative light?




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