The New York Times raises a good question about the ability of the Tea Party to survive when the economy recovers because many of the members' participation seems driven by unemployment. (I think it's actually driven by worse urges, but that's a discussion for another day.) But I've been struck by something else, based on, unfortunately, personal knowledge of the unemployment system. And I could be completely off base if none of them are actually collecting unemployment benefits but still, something seems off, especially with those below retirement age.
a. How can people who are unemployed afford to travel around from state to state joining protests? Assuming that at least some people are doing that and, based on some of the people interviewed, many seem to be hitting multiple protests. So is someone funding their travel? Is this all Freedomworks or something else? Is money flowing under the table? It seems to me that it's time to stop focusing on signs and move on to deeper exploration of this phenomenon.
b. Some states impose restrictions on the ability to collect benefits. You have to be available for work, and that means you can't be traveling out of state.
c. Are some of them getting paid? Are they really all volunteers?