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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Reich: Why the Anger?

Robert Reich:

Why the Anger?: Why is the nation more bitterly divided today than it’s been in eighty years? Why is there more anger, vituperation, and political polarization now than even during Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s, the tempestuous struggle for civil rights in the 1960s, the divisive Vietnam war, or the Watergate scandal?

If anything, you’d think this would be an era of relative calm. ... And yet, by almost every measure, Americans are angrier today. They’re more contemptuous of almost every major institution — government, business, the media. They’re more convinced the nation is on the wrong track. And they are far more polarized.  ...

Undoubedly, social media play a part... Meanwhile, cable news and yell radio compete for viewers and listeners by being ever more strident. ... Within this cacophony, we’ve lost trusted arbiters of truth — the Edward Murrows and Walter Cronkites...

We’ve also lost most living memory of an era in which we were all in it together — the Great Depression and World War II — when we ... understood how much we owed each other as members of the same society.

But I think the deeper explanation for what has happened has economic roots... — ... for the last three and a half decades, the middle class has been losing ground. The median wage of male workers is now lower than it was in 1980, adjusted for inflation. ...

Meanwhile, income, wealth, and power have become more concentrated at the top than they’ve been in ninety years.

As a result, many have come to believe that the deck is stacked against them. ...

When average people feel the game is rigged, they get angry. And that anger can easily find its way into deep resentments — of the poor, of blacks, of immigrants, of unions, of the well-educated, of government.

This shouldn’t be surprising. Demagogues throughout history have used anger to target scapegoats — thereby dividing and conquering, and distracting people from the real sources of their frustrations.

Make no mistake: The savage inequality America is experiencing today is deeply dangerous.

    Posted by on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at 12:01 PM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (83)


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