There seem to be a few folks with too much time on their hands and a huge amount of frustration over losing the election last November. And tomorrow they're going to have a little tea party -- a nationwide protest in 500 cities and towns is scheduled for Wednesday -- to let everyone know just how angry they are. I have no problem with this in theory. As long as they pay their taxes, they have a right to express their opinion about how the government is spending "their" money -- though the tea-bagging ceremonies strike me as a little bit like throwing spitballs in sixth-grade history class.

If the teabaggers were real patriots, however, they would come up with real alternatives to fix the problems about which they're complaining. As best as I can tell, teabaggers draw their inspiration from an on-air rant by CNBC's Rick Santelli back on February 19 when he complained that Obama's $75 billion bailout of mortgage defaulters "rewarded bad behavior." Interestingly, Santelli has no problem with the other $12.725 trillion -- out of a total of $12.8 trillion -- being spent to bail out Wall Street's bad behavior.

Santelli's complaint about the 0.6 percent of the government bailout for those who took on mortgages they can't afford to pay back has inspired others who don't like the $787 billion stimulus package and President Obama's $3.6 trillion budget. While the people Santelli is defending may account for a large proportion of CNBC's viewers and advertisers, the only way they will account for a meaningful portion of the electorate is if they can convince enough people to vote against their economic interests.



That's because between 2001 and 2008, median income fell while the cost of living rose so much that the only way the average family could keep up was to borrow $2.5 trillion. Meanwhile, U.S. federal debt rose from $5 trillion to $11.3 trillion as the government developed a record $1 trillion budget deficit.

The teabaggers might get a kick out of mailing tea bags to Washington -- but that is why sixth graders are not running the country. Teabaggers have every right to stomp their feet and carry on, but as citizens it would be helpful if they channeled their anger into better solutions. Here are six principles I think we should follow to fix things. What do you think?

Peter Cohan is president of Peter S. Cohan & Associates. He also teaches management at Babson College. His eighth book is You Can't Order Change: Lessons from Jim McNerney's Turnaround at Boeing.


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