Monday, October 10, 2011

Political activism comes from the current zeitgeist of malaise

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I suspect that the Tea Party Movement and Occupy Wall Street movement are symptoms of the same underlying situation.

I don't think most Americans fully understand the current social and economic situation and I am sure that Americans don't agree about what to do about it, but I think the following are determining the zeitgeist:

  • We are in the midst of what has been called the Great Recession
  • Unemployment is high
  • People have lost a lot of what they thought of as their saving when the housing bubble burst and when the stock market dropped like a rock
  • Many homes are under water, their mortgages greater than their current value
  • The politicians in Washington seem more interested in making points against each other than in helping the public; neither the public nor the rating agencies trust them to do the right thing
  • The politicians in Europe are squabbling about the financial crisis there, and no one trusts them to do the right thing to resolve it
  • If either the United States or Europe gets it wrong, we might see a global depression
  • Globalization has undermined many aspects of the U.S. economy; the rust belt is visible
  • The rise of economies in China, India, Russia, Brazil, and other countries means that the United States, which produced about half the world's goods and services in 1845, produces a much smaller portion today and the portion is likely to continue downward
  • The rich are getting richer, the poor are staying poor, and the middle class is getting poorer; the trend is decades old
  • Wall street seems not to care at all about main street
  • America is no longer the place of upward mobility, there is less upward mobility here now than in many European nations
  • We are in a couple of wars that most Americans want to end, they are draining our economy, and neither party seems to care enough about what the public wants to push to get out
  • Most electoral districts are safe for one party or the other, politicians seem always to get reelected, and they dance to the tune of the most radical of their supporters -- the ones willing to get out and push for their positions
  • Elections are dominated by big money, politicians spend too much time and effort seeking money for reelection, and the deep pockets have too much influence through their lobbyists
So people want change. They communicate with others who not only share their malaise, but who share their political ideology. 

We have seen Arab Spring in the news, and the idea is spreading that public demonstrations and political networking can bring change.

I would guess that the movement will not succeed in changing the fundamental processes that are leading to all these things which both people!

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