good pic

jonathankaplan


Onward

...wherever you go, there you are...


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the sun will come out tomorrow.
good pic
jonathankaplan
Populism makes me nervous. I'm a nervous guy anyway, an ex-risk manager (a psyche one never manages to overcome, at least, not me, not yet), a conservative person with paranoid tendencies. Populism is, on one level, about the masses feeling discord with the system, and with the "elite" that succeed in that system.
In very recent times, there has been ever-increasing dissatisfaction with the system (in the US, at least). As an adjunct, two populist movements have sprung up, the Tea Party and OWS (Occupy Wall Street). Although these two groups come from different parts of the political spectrum, they have considerable similarity. The Tea Party thinks that the DC elite has corrupted the system and too greatly diluted the US Consitution and Bill of Rights. Even non-Republicans know that DC is corrupt, that money runs the system, that there is something wrong. The OWS group thinks that the Financial elite has corrupted the system and, through tricky machinations, has stolen a chunk of their wealth. They don't know HOW exactly, but they know it was done, cause they feel the pain. Even non-Dems feel the economic pain. Right now, the different leaders of these two groups are relatively unsophisticated and naive at using the popular emotion these groups symbolize. So far.
Arab Spring has some similarity with these concepts, and the various leaders of the successful movements, now that they have "won" power, are a little lost. This creates a power vacuum, and who knows exactly what future gets sucked into that void. The same has happened with the Tea Party and with OWS. Their leaders are not strong enough, not clever enough, to coalesce into a civil movement of change. If they can't do it, then the masses can easily transition to what the masses do best/worst, become a group of angry mobs. Perhaps OWS is a little behind the Tea Party in this rut, but they are catching on quickly, I see that Rev. Sharpton (and various labor unions) have been visiting some with the OWS....ugh. If when these movements, here in the US (and/or in the Arab Spring) are "taken over" by more powerful, charismatic leaders, we better hope those leaders are not as nefarious as they could be. If not, we could (in a bad scenario) end up with far less freedom, both political and economic, than we currently delude ourselves into thinking we have.
Populism is majoritarian. I am a very visible individual in an historically persecuted minority. The idea of mobs forming, then showing up outside my door banging loudly, makes me nervous. Do you think I should be anxious about this?

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My take is we’re too comfortable for an Arab spring situation. Protestors with iphones and Aeropostale shirts aren’t going to overthrow the government if they even know what they're angry about. I think the Pee Party crowd mostly want attention, and to get baked. Many of these protestors have yet to work a day in their lives. They’ve been resource sinks for 25 years, and they’re mad at the system? Please. If they died today their tombstone would read "Contributed nothing."

They remind me of Rage Against the Machine. Multimillionaires from Orange county, employees of the billionaire Sony conglomerate, sitting poolside at the mansion writing songs about how unfair the system is, maaan. Die in a fire.

I guess what I'm saying is, don't worry.

there is much good thinking in your reply.
thanks a ton!

really? The description of the protests reads like a bunch of regurgitated right-wing and "serious centrist" tropes to me.

There are some pretty legitimate complaints:

1. the greater and greater tournamentization of the economy (nearly all the growth goes to a very small cadre of lucky (mostly also high skill) winners, while 80% of the population is actually losing ground).

2. The complete lack of government response to the economic collapse and the fact that we are still in a hole with huge unnecessary unemployment.

3. That those most responsible for the crisis have been largely bailed out (top execs/traders/marketers at investment banks), while everybody else gets a pile of rhetoric about how we have to tighten our belts, and maybe cut SS benefits, etc.

Of course, most of the people at the protests don't really have a good sense of the esoteric details of which policies have helped to get us here or what could be done about it. OTOH, many are talking about legitimate strategies.

I met somebody at Zuccotti park who was handing out flyers discussing about modern monetary theory, and the benefits of NGDP targeting or "helicopter drops." This might not do much about point 1, but could help immensely on point 2. I've also noticed that monetary strategies mostly limited to blog-discussions over the last couple years suddenly got recommended by some economists at Goldman Sachs and discussed all over the NYT and WP -- a few weeks after the protests started.

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