Saturday, October 1, 2011

Social inequality in the recovery from economic recession: setting the stage for a bitter national general election?

Keywords or Terms: Social Inequality; Occupy Wall Street Movement; Financial Institutions; Recalcitrance; Self-Preservation; Failure to Act in time; Recession; Bank Bail Out; Anarchy; Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff; Financial Default or Repression; and Proactive Behavior.

For months, Republicans in the United States Congress have focused on the game of numbers in election; and, unseating the current occupant of the Whitehouse. While many Americans languished on unemployment lines, Republicans created atmosphere of recalcitrance over the business of lawmaking which has made it difficult for congress to work the way it’s should: delivering bills that the Whitehouse can sign into law. Democrats have not been far behind on the issue of recalcitrance; and, a few political observers indicate that all is well and that was how our forefathers had anticipated the process of law making in congress. Unfortunately, as more people lose their jobs and homes due to the recession and the recalcitrance in congress, it became obvious to many in the middle and lower class, that their concerns were neither important to the congressional lawmakers they elected into office in what was termed the Republican wave in the 2010 elections, nor sacrosanct. That’s why you are seeing what may end up being a grassroots movement to change the national discuss; and, probably ignite a culture of service on both aisle of congress.

For many diligent observers, the Occupy the Wall Street movement is long overdue. Others argue it is not obvious what outcome organizers of the Occupy Wall Street movement wanted. This was not the case, when in 2008, banks, automobile industries and big insurance companies were bailed out. Chief Executives Officers at many of the bailed out financial institutions were all too happy that Uncle Sam had their backs; and, as they rake in millions in subsequent quarters, very few of them have been reinvesting to create a buoyant economy that can support jobs creation. If anyone is still mystified, the costs of the foreclosures, unemployment and sluggish economy can be found in the resolution of some marchers as they chant over the past two weeks: “We are the 99 percent” and “The banks got bailed out, we got sold out”. 

The concerns of the current movement may seem undefined at this time to an unsuspecting public; however, there are some insinuations that the concerns of this group may end up setting the stage for a bitter general elections in 2012. The spread across the nation of prototypes of Occupy the Wall Street movement is beginning to look more like the beginning of no return for many who have been disenfranchised by the economic recession. A few participants of the movement assign blame to congress which has failed to do its job in raising bills that may create jobs for the teaming millions; or, ameliorate the challenges or pains of an economic recession. Furthermore, a few in the movement assign blame to the Whitehouse for not showing enough leadership to address the Nine percent plus National Unemployment. 

Upon all the confusion over where the buck stops, is a real awareness that the economy may not turn for the better very soon and many more people would fall through the cracks. Many of the twenty-something, who have remained unemployed, many of them college graduates and a few who have been laid-off for just too long, are choosing to take their future in their hands. Their current onslaught and seat out on Wall street, partly comes out of the conviction that the money men on Wall Street hardly cares about their welfare and if no one is going to act on their behalf, they are ready to do something, anything, to bring about change that may position them for better opportunities.

Did I hear the term Anarchy?  Well, the question on the minds of many people who are paying close attention as the mainstream media looks away, is: Can a situation like this turn to unruliness and probably all out class war? Given that a few in the movement have been arrested for disorderly conduct; and, some of them are vowing to remain put around their encampment, no one can truly say how long they are willing to stay. There were similar protests reported in the cities of Seattle, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago and probably more. If the state and national securities become overwhelm by the length and probably size of the protests, it is not impossible that innocent citizens may end up being molested. For now, no one is saying this is happening; however, where anarchy festers there are going to be some disorderly conducts that may make life unbearable for many.

How did we get here and where are we going? Well, look at what has been happening all around your neighborhoods and you get a better sense of how we got here. For months, the attention of our lawmakers has remained in areas that had little impact on jobs creation; although Democrats would argue otherwise and Republicans will repudiate their advancements. The snipping between Republicans and Democrats sends a message to the average Joe Six Packs and Wendy Wine Cooler that Congress is not responding quickly to their immediate concerns. Given the situation that many in this class have faced and the slow to act demeanor of probably the whole Washington to jobs creation, the social inequality is becoming more pronounced. The results of this new normal, have led to many families sleeping on the streets and patronizing the Food Banks. Much as many Republicans may want to criticize the President for attempting to start a class war by recommending that revenue raising be part of the necessary reform to accentuate efforts of the congressional super committee looking into the issue of the nation’s deficit and budget woes, the reality on the street is that, there are already signs of class wars incubating from the general nature of the economic recession and the initial steps taken by government to address the associated problems. 

There are many ways the government could have achieved continued improvements in jobs creation, but in a world where self-preservation of a lawmaker’s position in congress is rather more important that doing the work of the people, many great initiatives have been allowed to languish and some that could have been copied from past experiences of national recession have been overlooked. Building an economy that has fallen apart due to unpaid foreign wars and deregulation of the home and mortgage finances has to take more than budget re-engineering. If the opinions of economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff are to be taken into consideration as presented in their talk at the Institute for International Economics: “When government takes on debt after a meltdown like the one that struck the U.S. in 2008, the historical pattern is that countries either go through some form of default or introduce forms of “financial repression.” This means adopting interest rates caps on bank deposits; and or, requiring financial institutions to hold more government debts on their books.

When most people in congress, believes in taking action that steers away from job creation and uniting behind political ideologies that nearly pushes the tethering economy to the cliff, the suffocation-effect on the working class of an underperforming economy leads to a common purpose of these classes to fight the power that be. Further, in a ‘me-me’ culture, where collaboration is often absent and selfish tendency dominates, competition for national resources, steps up. People cannot remain static for just too long as the high unemployment rate in the economy has remained. This is why you are probably seeing a social justice group in the name, occupy the Wall Street movement. Whether this group or factions of it will stand up to the extremism of another group, the Tea Party in the Republican Party, may end up setting the stage for the 2012 national general election debates. We are now in uncharted waters and none of us knows where the ship will duck after drifting through the storms of the recession.

To build an equitable and egalitarian society as envisaged by those who were here before us, there is going to be the need for competition and compassion. Absent these may lead to social strife, a condition which no responsible government can entertain. Without an active employment of public policies that directly addresses the immediate needs of the people for work, we begin to brew  socio-economic disaster; as social inequality that precipitates financial repression leads people to do unimaginable things. The Occupy the Wall Street movement is symptomatic of perceived social inequality, whether they truly exist or not. Deprivation and suffering during a recession teaches people to get into survival mode as each ends up following a script or checklist of how to overcome the oppressions of the privileged or under-performing economy; whether perceived or real.

The new normal, where unemployment remains at a little over nine percent, demand revolutionary thinking, where congressional lawmakers are committed to sacrifice and team work to resolve the long standing problem of high unemployment, is hardly frowned upon. The current snipping between the two major parties in congress leaves room for too much uncertainties; a situation where citizens feel helpless and disgruntled to the extent of taking the law into their hands. Many people in the Occupy the Wall Street movement would probably inform any listener that they are in a proactive mode, since no one in government has taken it upon himself or herself to address their immediate concerns for a job. The concerns for those in the Tea Party and by default the Republican Party, maybe the high and climbing public debts; however for now, the concerns of those that are sitting in on Wall Street and City Halls, is the protracted suffering of millions, due to the biting recession, home foreclosures and the inaction of the congress to attend to laws that could turn the tides of misfortune.
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