For the last year and a half we’ve all been treated to analysis of the Tea Party movement: Who these people are, why they are so upset, who they will support in an election, etc. Much of the analysis has been derogatory but more importantly the analysis has been nonsense. Some have said that the Tea Party was tinged with racism, and some wrote it off as nothing more than an uninformed, angry electorate that was anti-incumbent in nature. This is all wrong.
The Tea Party movement is made up of average citizens, and has always been primarily about two things: One, the growth and scope of government, and, two, the out of control spending by the government.
Bill Fleckenstein recently wrote a piece in which he brought up a rather scary notion related to these two matters so dear to the Tea Party. He speculates that we could see a new class warfare, this time between government workers and average citizens. Fleckenstein writes:
In my Aug. 13 column, I talked about the potential for class warfare between average citizens who are struggling and government workers who have the chance to retire on extremely generous pensions. In other words, there is going to be a clash between those struggling in the private sector and those living relatively fat off public money. What I had not realized until recently was just how out of control the numbers had become.
In a newsletter this month, Dennis Gartman shared some data on the subject, which I found very illuminating: In 1949, government spending was 14.3% of gross domestic product. As of 2009, it had risen to 24.7% of GDP (and is obviously higher now). In other words, since 1949, that percentage has grown 73%.
Fleckenstein is on to something here. We face the troubling possibility of a new social/economic clash in which the government employee is becoming part of a new bourgeois…