Monday, January 10, 2011

It's a Class War, Stupid!

There have been a lot of instant analysis of the Tucson shooting that occurred over the weekend. Some have characterized the gunman as a "whack job" and pointed out his ramblings, others have viewed it through a political lens and blamed the hate mongers and their enablers on the Right.

The Class War begins?
I believe that the causes are more fundamental: It's the Class War. The chart below from Economix shows the pace of job recovery in the United States of this cycle compared to past cycles. Analysts have described this recovery as tepid, but "tepid" doesn't even begin to fully characterize this upturn.

I have also written before about the risks in the rising gap between rich and poor. The chart below from the OECD relates the Gini coefficient, as a measure of income disparity, to social mobility. The US has a high level of income disparity but also a low level of social mobility, indicating that the "American Dream" is just that - a dream.

Now the chickens are coming home to roost. Consider this chart of the uneven recovery. Wall Street (the elite) wins and Main Street (everyone else) loses.

Despite last week's Non-Farm Payroll gain of 103K jobs, look at the participation rate showing how discouraged workers have quit the workforce:

As the "recovery" continues and the vast majority of the population doesn't get its share, is it any wonder that people are getting cranky?

We may blame this specific shooting on the crazies on the Right, along with the Libertarians and the Tea Partiers. As the fruits of this recovery gets more and more uneven and we have to deal with the fallout (examples here and here), don't be surprised if there is a reaction from the Left in the not too distant future.

We used to call that "going Postal". I call this the first shot in a Class War.


quasarito said...

When I first read about the shooting, I thought the same thing: "And so it begins, the start of social unrest in the US".

With the long-term unemployed unable to find work, people losing their houses, house values underwater for those who can still pay their mortgages, there is frustration everywhere. But I think it is not only politicians who should be worried about the masses being stirred up. I think the banks better gird themselves up to be the target for such pent-up frustration. Whether deserved or not cannot be debated because when dealing with actions that are illogical, the wacky cannot be handled with reason.

And the world is not immune either, with European austerity measures and food price inflation, I don't think any part of the world will be spared.

Michele said...

This shooting is an indicator of a coming class war? I think not. I think you had it right in your first sentence: the man is a rambling whack job. That's the sum total of it. I believe it is an error to underestimate the docility of the American public at large.

When they tried to raise the retirement age in France by a few years, there were riots in the streets. In America, we have people patiently queueing up to remove their shoes and get themselves electronicly strip-searched just to get on a plane.

For all the guns and rhetoric here, the US simply does not have the "pitchforks and torches" tradition that so many other countries do.