Thursday, August 11, 2016

Wonder why the U.S. is in a societal and political upheaval? It's the economy stupid!

Economic conditions are funny things, as they can engender demands for change when teetered on both ends of the pendulum.

When jobs are plentiful, wages are high, and the economy is good, rebellion against the norm is usually centered around a few ideologues who's own traumatic past causes them to try to seek to impose changes on the nation that aren't really necessary.  And they can attract affluent benefactors to their causes who may feel guilt from their own good fortunes.

A great example of this is the creation of 'Earth Day', where a small group of individuals established a cause which over the course of time has forced people and businesses to change their lifestyles, and at the loss of economic and monetary wealth.

Radical environmentalism is the last crusade modern youth can dedicate themselves to absolutely and ferociously. All talk of tolerance, nuance, empathy, and shades of grey goes out the window, replaced by a Manichean struggle of good versus evil, angels versus devils, the wise and concerned against the blind and selfish. That kind of moral certainty is exhilarating. People who have been raised not to seek it in most other areas of their lives desperately need a hit. 
Climate change mythology has crowded out most of the environmentalist concerns from previous generations, in part because industrial technology has done such an amazing job of addressing them. There’s always room for improvement, and there are some other environmental issues pop up on the radar screen from time to time, but it’s remarkable how much Green energy (of the political variety) has been pumped into the climate change movement. It gives people an easy way to assume intellectual superiority with virtually zero effort. It’s the eternal crusade, the insoluble problem, the hypothesis that can never be falsified, so it provides sustainable fuel for countless rallies and political power grabs. - Breitbart
Yet on the other end of the economic pendulum the responses are much more open, and much more violent.  As wealth inequality and the potential of making less than our parents did becomes the norm for much of the Western world, the activism that emerges from this side of the economic scale becomes much more vocal and much more public.

And whether we are talking about Occupy Wall Street, the rise of radical right-wing political parties in country's such as Greece, Italy, and France, or anti-establishment candidates such as Ron Paul and Donald Trump, these movements are intrinsically tied to ones economic state, and the real potential for individuals to move beyond their current situation.

Most people growing up in advanced economies since World War II have been able to assume they will be better off than their parents. For much of the time, that assumption has proved correct: except for a brief hiatus in the 1970s, buoyant global economic and employment growth over the past 70 years saw all households experience rising incomes, both before and after taxes and transfers. As recently as between 1993 and 2005, all but 2 percent of households in 25 advanced economies saw real incomes rise. 
Yet this overwhelmingly positive income trend has ended. A new McKinsey Global Institute report, Poorer than their parents? Flat or falling incomes in advanced economies, finds that between 2005 and 2014, real incomes in those same advanced economies were flat or fell for 65 to 70 percent of households, or more than 540 million people (exhibit). And while government transfers and lower tax rates mitigated some of the impact, up to a quarter of all households still saw disposable income stall or fall in that decade. - McKinsey
The goal is to find that happy medium where the majority of a nation's people are economically content, but not too affluent where they lose their drive and ambition to move beyond a certain economic status.  America had this in the 1950's and early 60's, but lost it in the search for materialism during the 80's and 90's.

Now however, the belief that one cannot succeed if they work hard, get an education, and play fairly is growing in every increasing measures, and this is one of the most important factors as to why the West is seeking radical change, and why some form of change has to inevitably come.


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