- Date published:
7:28 am, March 11th, 2016 - 66 comments
Categories: activism, capitalism, class war, economy, us politics - Tags: anger, demagogues, donald trump, inequality, intergenerational theft, madness
Yesterday I wrote about intergenerational theft, the way that “the millineials” are getting systematically screwed by economic factors such as unemployment, debt, rising house prices, and static incomes. In comments Olwyn objected to the generational framing, arguing that “what we are looking at is the war of international capital against all”. I don’t think it is “either / or”, I think both factors are in play.
Coincidentally yesterday the Washington Post ran this interesting piece (by Jared Bernstein, a former chief economist to Vice President Biden):
Real earnings, real anger
It is pretty widely agreed upon that a good chunk of the electorate is angry.
The electorate’s anger is also fueled by a more basic manifestation of the inequitable economy that even Donald Trump has lamented: the long-term stagnation of wages for various groups of workers. Tom Edsall argues that “[T]he economic basis for voter anger has been building over forty years.” Bill Galston stresses that when the “implicit bargain between average citizens and their leaders” — you work hard, you get ahead — “breaks down because leaders don’t live up to their side of the bargain, all bets are off.” A group of Washington Post reporters contends that the anger behind Trump’s ascendancy “is more than just anger at the political class or rebellion against political correctness. It reflects decades of lost jobs and falling wages for a swath of blue-collar Americans, who saw their opportunities diminish and developed a sense that someone has stolen something from them.”
Bernstein digs in to the data (see graphs in the full article).
Both pictures clearly support the above assertions connecting anger to paychecks: decades of stagnant earnings for blue-collar factory workers and sharp declines in the real earnings of middle- and low-wage white men. … There is a demonstrable link between real earnings and real anger.
History clearly shows us that when people are economically stressed they turn to extreme action and extreme leaders. Bernstein is arguing that the Trump ascendancy is another example of this. Given the massively increasing inequality in the world, and the way that the 99% (especially the younger generations) are treated economically, I guess we can expect a whole lot more anger, and a whole lot more political madness ahead.