Sunday, November 29, 2009

Making A Profit From Teabagging

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Not everyone agrees with me-- and I can see, and even respect, the opposite point of view-- but I've always had it in my head that when you really believe in something, it transcends the profit motive. When I was a college freshman, for example, I really, really believed that all the problems in the world would be solved if everyone got stoned. At my campus there was a small hard core of beatnik types and folkies smoking pot, and there was one senior who sold pot, for $45 an ounce. I was always good at arithmetic and soon figured out that if he was buying a pound for $120, that meant he was making a $37.50 profit on each ounce of pot we were smoking, a profit that came to $600.00 per pound. What a capitalist pig!

I organized the emerging-- as yet unnamed-- hippies and said that we should all take turns going into NYC and buying the pound and then splitting it up so that everyone paid $7.50/ounce instead of $45. Cheers all around. I went first. Everyone was so happy. But no one went second. Lazy, scared, whatever. I set the price at $12.50 so I could pay for my train ticket and expenses and get my portion for free, and everyone was really happy. The old beatnik was soon out of business, and so were the other old beatniks all over Suffolk County.

In politics and in religion there have always been people ready to prey on other people's beliefs. They're always the cynical, the sleazy and the corrupt. They take consulting fees off the top without telling anyone, sometimes consulting fees that are absolutely eye-popping.

The epitome of this in our times is Richard Viguerie, although characters like Paul Weyrich, Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson, James Dobson and Jack Abramoff have made out very well plowing these fields in recent times. It's rare, though not unheard of, to find Democrats motivated by the kind of sociopathic greed and narcissism to go down this path. But needless to say, teabaggery was tailor-made for the kind of chicken-plucking this behavior is akin to. Ken Vogel looked at it in yesterday's Politico: Tea Parties Emerge As Revenue Streams. Surprised?
Tapping into the deep reservoir of anger on the right at President Barack Obama and Congress has turned out to be a financial boon to a diverse collection of tea party-affiliated political groups and candidates soliciting donations and raising money from the sale of T-shirts, books and paraphernalia.

The tea party brand has proved to be a potent source of revenue for new for-profit companies funding-- among other things-- an upcoming convention keynoted by Sarah Palin, for established national non-profit groups soliciting small donations and for political action committees and long-shot candidates raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to overcome sometimes long electoral odds... [T]he fundraising efforts have also prompted grumbling about the monetization of a local grass-roots movement and raised concerns about whether the money is being used to advance the cause of the activists who burst onto the national scene last summer with marches and town hall protests around the country.

The debate over fundraising reflects the tensions of a movement whose internal stresses have raised concerns on the right about its ability to become a factor in the 2010 elections. Already, there are charges and countercharges that the money that has been raised has not been used effectively to advance the small-government, limited-taxation ideals at the heart of the tea party movement.

“There are a lot of questions about money and where all the money has gone,” said Erick Erickson, editor of the influential conservative blog RedState.com, which has emerged as both chronicler of and guide for the tea party movement.

Conservative bloggers and activists have at times accused some tea party organizers of poor budgeting, wasting money on flashy initiatives like cross-country bus tours that critics say don’t do much to advance the cause, or-- worse-- using cash raised from activists to pad their groups’ coffers or their own wallets.

...Tea Party Nation, a for-profit company that runs a social networking website for activists and is now selling tickets — at $560 a pop — to what it’s billing as the “First National Tea Party Convention,” has also come under fire from activists. According to the organization’s website, the planned three-day convention in February is “aimed at bringing the Tea Party Movement leaders together from around the nation for the purpose of networking and supporting the movements' multiple organizations principal goal

The registration fee doesn’t include lodging at Nashville’s sprawling Gaylord Opryland Hotel, where the convention is being held. But it does include access to scheduled speeches by tea party heroes Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Palin, whose speaking fee (reported to be in the six figures) was paid by convention organizers.

“If this were a perfect world, we wouldn’t charge anybody, but to put on an event like this, there are expenses that have to be covered,” said Tea Party Nation President Judson Phillips. He explained that his group is hoping to turn a profit from the event so that it can “funnel money back into conservative causes” through a 527 group it plans to set up to get involved in campaigns.

“This is the source of a lot of disagreement within the tea party movement, where a lot of people say money is a bad thing. But the simple fact of the matter is that you are not going to get candidates elected without money,” he said.

“The tea party movement is a grass-roots movement; it’s not a business,” countered Anthony Shreeve, an East Tennessee local tea party organizer who resigned from the convention’s steering committee after a disagreement over finances. “Most tea party activists won’t be there because they can’t afford it.”

Tea Party Nation’s website sells ads such as the one for a book called “Tea Party Revival: The Conscience of a Conservative Reborn,” which bills itself as “an essential guide” to the movement, and also hawks Tee-shirts emblazoned with “Got Tea?”

And all this begs the question about which healthcare-related companies and Insurance giants have been paying for Dick Armey's efforts-- Astroturfing-- to create faux grassroots "movements" of weak-minded and easily deluded angry people to protest against healthcare reform (often while whining about how badly they've been treated by the very Insurance companies manipulating them).

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13 Comments:

At 10:15 AM, Anonymous me said...

“First National Tea Party Convention,”

Includes 5% discount admission to the Creation Museum?

 
At 11:03 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

I love the case study in Pot Marketing 101. It provides insight into a remarkably wide range of aspects of human behavior.

Ken

 
At 11:13 AM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Tea is tea, no matter how you slice it

 
At 3:13 PM, Blogger lawguy said...

The marijuana marketing story was interesting, but where was this. I myself am much more familiar with the small dealer kind of like Adam Smith's concept of many marketers. The colleges and towns I lived in there were always several people dealing so that the invisible hand really did work.

 
At 3:44 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Suffolk County is the eastern part of Long Island. The school was SUNY, Stony Brook

 
At 10:04 PM, Blogger Bruce said...

Free enterprise at work but think of the business you missed. You could have brought back food for your stoned acquaintances, selling it to them when they got the munchies and fed yourself for free at the same time!
As for the teabaggers, some people just love being duped.

 
At 7:13 AM, Anonymous Beautiful World said...

As for the teabaggers, some people just love being duped.

 
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10 Insulting Words You Should Know That's not the only interesting thing about it:

 
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