"The Middle-Class Squeeze", Bernie Sanders, Charles Moore, Distrust of Government, Donald Trump, Hilliary Clinton, House Republicans, President Obama, The Middle Class, The Wall Street Journal, WSJ
Illustration: Robert Neubecke
Thanks to an email from CT, I read an article this morning that seems to put some clarity and understanding into what may be an important (and less often discussed) factor behind many issues affecting our country.
Why is Trump hitting a note with some people in the country (beyond his theatrics)?
Why isn’t Obama getting adequate recognition for what in many ways has been a successful presidency (beyond the racism)?
Why is Bernie Sanders also hitting a note with some people in this country (beyond his progressive rhetoric and beliefs)?
Why is Hilary Clinton not walking away with the Democratic nomination (beyond her email issues, her gender, and her sometimes grating personality)?
Why are two to four dozen Republican House members (and some Republican Senators) able to have such a (negative and powerful) impact on the business of the House and the country (despite their safe, gerrymandered seats)?
Why is distrust of government at its highest level in many years (beyond the media’s inadequacy in presenting a clear picture of what is underway in this country)?
While there are differing and numerous explanations for each of these questions, I think one factor that perhaps underlies all of them and has not received sufficient discussion and understanding is contained in a recent Wall Street Journal‘s article, The Middle-Class Squeeze, by Charles Moore.
Check it out and feel free to add your opinion in the Comment section of this post.
Well, your stealth conservative friend had read the Moore column yesterday; my first thought was “send this man a copy of Hayek’s ‘Road to Serfdom’ if he’s serious about answering any of the questions he posed.” Maybe he should start with a basic history book…….or perhaps just Ecclesiastes 1:9 will suffice.
However, in response to YOUR questions….perhaps you won’t hear these in the circles you run in (certainly not from me face to face LOL), so I humbly offer them…
“Why is Trump hitting a note with some people in the country (beyond his theatrics)?”
The media. He’s a celebrity. He’s a good communicator. He’s also an ignorant blowhard, and his rhetoric is wearing thin (ie, “I’m going to make better deals…..I’m going to have the best people…..” “It’s going to be HUUUUGE”….etc.). He has struck a nerve on immigration though. I think even the most staunch conservatives would say, “the more the merrier…..come on in……BUT……no freebies!!!”
If the rest of the field were smart, they would pick up the mantle and offer serious solutions to the immigration mess. The only thing the dems do about enforcing our rules? “Enforce the rules? Are you kidding? More voters!!!”
“Why isn’t Obama getting adequate recognition for what in many ways has been a successful presidency (beyond the racism)?”
Obama has been a terrible president. He has always lacked the emotional maturity to be a leader. Leadership 101…be the grownup. I could cite plenty of examples of his lack of maturity and pettiness…..“The 1980’s called…they want their foreign policy back” sums it up nicely. You never rub your opponents’ noses in it. A leader leads.
And the fact that you throw racism in? Come on….there is no response to that. That always bothered me: the feeling that the country was not really ready for a president of color because people who honestly opposed his policies would be called racists.
“Why is Bernie Sanders also hitting a note with some people in this country (beyond his progressive rhetoric and beliefs)?”
Getting free stuff is always going to hit a note with some people. However, there is a meme that connects progressives with the tea party (i.e.….they both feel that corporations have too much power…..because they buy politicians. Progressives want to give MORE power to government to stop this, tea party wants to TAKE power from the government, ie, take away the power to grant favors to aid and protect corporations).
“Why is Hilary Clinton not walking away with the Democratic nomination (beyond her email issues, her gender, and her sometimes grating personality)?”
You nailed it. Everyone knows she’s the embodiment of Washington corruption. The only reason she had her separate email server was to NOT use the .gov email address. The Clinton Foundation (slush fund?) was getting donations from foreign governments while she was Secy of State. Also…..the grating personality…..every time she opens her mouth, her poll numbers drop. The only hope in 2016 for the dems in Biden. The only way the dems can get elected is if they run a GOOD liar (ie Clinton or Obama, as opposed to a Gore or Kerry).
“Why are two to four dozen Republican House members (and some Republican Senators) able to have such a (negative and powerful) impact on the business of the House and the country (despite their safe, gerrymandered seats)?”
Um, maybe because they’re doing what their voters want? “Negative” is your opinion….they are trying to limit the damage the man-child in the White House is doing….”Powerful”? Hardly….they are up against President PenPhone.
“Why is distrust of government at its highest level in many years (beyond the media’s inadequacy in presenting a clear picture of what is underway in this country)?”
Again, Ecclesiastes 1:9. The country is founded on a healthy distrust of government.
As far as all the gloom and doom, and the nonsense that the next generation will have things worse than the current generation……I would suggest people get a grip. The poorest of the poor in this country should be called “50%’ers” by the rest of the planet……Maggie was right….we want to create a society of “haves”.
And this: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/01/29/50-reasons-were-living-through-the-greatest-period.aspx
Gracious. One of the things I do find disappointing about the Internet (other than the fact that we’re all addicted) is that it can be anonymous, which allows for people to feel comfortable writing such poorly thought-out responses to your thoughtful questions. The only thing I do agree with Anon-2 about is the fact that Uncle Joe probably can’t win (and that we’re founded on a healthy distrust of government), but Biden is certainly not the only white knight Democrat out there.
That being said, I don’t have answers to your questions, but I have been mulling over them since reading this article in the WSJ yesterday, and I do think you have a point about the political spectrum pulling way left and way right because the middle doesn’t seem to be posing good enough answers. I especially found Moore’s various solutions fascinating, especially when posed through the lens of the few “bourgeois” becoming the more numerous “proletariat” given what happened in 2007/08. Not quite sure what class that puts Jamie Dimon and Jeff Smisek in…perhaps a new one of “ridiculous” that we only continue to allow because enough of us secretly hope to be one of them one day. Or at least earn their salaries.
Given that the NPR fund-raising drive is on and my husband is starting a new company, I have been thinking a lot about the importance of employees (or listeners) “owning” the company that they work for. In fact, this solution to the banking crisis was posed during multiple business school classes, and it’s extremely logical. It’s hard to play roulette with your pension. However, it can miss the fact that very few people work for the same company for our entire career anymore, so therefore how do you structure an ownership program that gives people long-term stakes without beholding them to the company for the long-term? Detail question, but one that’s important.
I’m rambling. Thank you for pointing out the article and asking more questions on top of it. I’ll keep mulling.
Richard Miller said:
Anon-2 & Lydia,
I do prefer folks who comment leave a name, or at least initials.
I understand, however, there are a few readers of this site who feel strongly that they do not want to or cannot sign their names. As long as an anonymous comment is respectful, I will leave it posted.
Thank you both for taking my post seriously and giving others your thoughts.
Richard, it is much appreciated.
I am often sarcastic, so I hope I don’t come off as disrespectful….it’s a fine line with black and white type.
If I used my name, would I get away with backhanded insults such as Lydia’s? (“allows people to feel comfortable writing such poorly thought out responses to your thoughtful questions”). She could have said “i disagree” without the belittling. I noticed she didn’t address any of my responses….
Hey! I told you you’d not hear this in your circles! Oh…btw….she misunderstood me….”The only thing I do agree with Anon-2 about is the fact that Uncle Joe probably can’t win”. That’s not what I said…..I said Joe is the ONLY dem that has a chance. So there is another thing we disagree on!
Oh….may I add….Moore had much insight, but also a lot of old myths….
In free markets, owners of capital get to keep it only by serving others.
Moore says, “the owner of capital decides where money goes, whereas the people who sell only their labor lack that power”.
Firms that buy labor are not competing with labor….they are competing with other firms….when a firm needs to hire someone, they need to offer a competitive wage. This empowers labor. The greater the supply of capital, the great the power of poor consumers and workers to determine “where money goes”.
swati ramanathan said:
Richard, the article is interesting, as are the comments – I provide a viewpoint from India…
The big unexpected bolt has been globalisation. No longer is building the society of haves restricted to the developed nations. With the financial porosity ushered in by globalisation, comes the rebalancing of prosperity at a GLOBAL level. Developed nations cannot have their societies of haves at the expense of deliberately keeping(the Raj) or being comfortable with other nations being societies of have nots.
The golden era of a nation has to now be replaced with a golden era for all nations…which i presume Adam Smith would include across nations when he said ALL (i’m paraphrasing – the ability for ALL “men” to have financial well being for basic comforts, to then pursue what they truly want to do)
All the best on the coming elections!