As the Euro bail-out moves closer, chances of a global economic collapse are receding. American growth has today been rerated at 2.5% – nothing compared to China’s 9% but quite respectable considering the state of the economy.
The Euro rescue package being put in place is an enormous victory for the top 1%, and will allow the richest to continue to accumulate wealth on a grand scale. Do not expect fighting in the streets, because most people who currently have jobs and own houses will keep both. Yes there will be mass protests at public spending cuts and there will be a VERY large minority who will be foreclosed, fired or both.
Almost every ordinary working American and European will feel the threat of redundancy, of not being able to meet mortgage or health insurance payments. In America there will be little in the way of a welfare net for these unlucky ones, especially the middle aged, once they have had their two years of benefits.
So the need to have an off-grid plan is increasingly obvious to growing numbers of people who see they are moving backwards. They also see that others are advancing thanks to what they perceive as tricks, special privileges and corner-cutting. This is not about hopes sparked by others doing well, but about the collective rage at an elite doing obscenely well while the rest backslides.
Over a century ago Alexis De Tocqueville wrote that Americans’ higher tolerance for inequality relative to Europe’s was the result of more social mobility in the US.This is over; at least for now. The long, peaceful coexistence with income and wealth inequality is ending. Americans are now infuriated by the fact that chief executives at some of the nation’s largest companies earned around 340 times more than a typical American worker.While the numbers are unnerving and US income disparities are growing even more unequal, this is not new. What is new is the intolerance towards the hoarding by the “few” of unfathomable wealth, and also towards their profiting even in the midst of the crisis. The rich are seen to be either benefiting from bail-outs and other stimulus measures, or to be immune to the fiscal austerity that governments in many countries have had to adopt to stabilise their economies.We know we have entered new political territory when Mitt Romney, the leading contender for the Republican party presidential nomination, who initially called the Occupy Wall Street movement “dangerous”, is quoted as saying: “I look at what’s happening on Wall Street and my own view is, boy I understand how those people feel …The people in this country are upset.”
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