American Angst

Business Logo for Psychological and Neuropsychological IssuesThere is a tension out there.  It’s in the home, the store and the school.  Tempers are very short.  Frustration tolerance appears to be waning.  If you haven’t lost your job yet, you are aware of many others who have been terminated.  It would be convenient to blame one’s boss, but it is likely they are as fearful as the next person.  Many, if not most, are held hostage to their paycheck.  They fear it will flee without notice, and leave neither food or water for survival.  Since it appears that no one person may be identified as the ringleader, frustration and anger lack direction.  The hapless victims may turn upon each other.

It should be noted that America was warned.  Back in the 1830’s, a highly insightful French bureaucrat offered numerous observations and predictions regarding the future of the young United States.  Mr. A. De Tocqueville opined that the death of our democratic free market economy would come at the hands of business interests controlling the government.  A scant 65 years later, Senator John Sherman of Ohio was able to unanimously pass a set of laws that were aimed at creating fair competition between companies.  At least in part, it was a response to the railroad owners who had the country by its throat.  They essentially controlled the flow of commerce, and a subset of the most wealthy were highly influential within the U.S. government.  The great depression of the 1890’s was believed to be an artifact of the monopolies and moneyed interests that had co-opted the government of the day.  The depression that began in 1929 and really hit in 1931 was largely secondary to unregulated speculation in equity markets.  It was unregulated because few wanted to spoil the party enjoyed by the most wealthy.  Politicians did not want to upset the flow of campaign contributions, and the poor man did not want to spurn the few crumbs that fell from their table.  The middle and lower classes had little to say in the government of the day.  It is as if a salesman questions whether you would prefer the green or red jacket.  The success of this sales strategy is centered on making the customer forget that there are better alternatives.

In the early 1800’s, the white house was largely open to all citizens.  Thomas Jefferson famously gave money to people who visited the white house and were in need of assistance.  This is rather quaint and speaks to a less complicated time, yet it also speaks volumes regarding the current access of American citizens to government.  Many believe that in our highly insecure terrorist world that we live in today, having citizen access to representatives would be sheer folly.  Please note that the world has at all times in its history experienced terrorist actions.  It is not a new phenomenon.  The greater apparent frequency of terrorist events may reflect the increase of international reporting.  There may be less serious threats to the existence of the United States today than there has ever been in its history.  The average citizen is not distant from the governmental power base for the safety of themselves or others, rather it reflects a decreasing respect for the opinion of the individual man.  Those who command wages and men have the potential to deliver votes.  As an elected official, it is more efficient to meet with a man who controls a thousand men, than meet with each of the men commanded.  The American people are given the illusion of choice on voting day.  We are given the choice of a red or green jacket.  Better clothes are always left hanging on the rack.

This historical cycle is not a conspiracy of the wealthy against the poor.  Anyone who inherits or acquires wealth will seek to retain and even augment their wealth.  This is neither evil or unexpected; it is human nature to feather one’s nest.  It is necessary for survival, but not sufficient.  The poison element is the advantages wealth confers on the individual.  An employer may peruse the want adds in order to set the lowest possible hourly wage of their employees, whereas the employees are sworn to secrecy regarding their actual pay.  The wealthy person may hire specialists to influence the American government.  The middle and lower classes do not enjoy these options.  The wealthy play golf with their representatives.  The poor leave messages with “staffers.”  These government employees freely acknowledge that the representative won’t actually read any of these messages from average constituents, but if thousands accrue, it might actually influence their actions!  Currently, the influence of one wealthy constituent is commonly more powerful than concerted independent action by hundreds of poor constituents-if not thousands.

The American people are currently called upon to repay the debts of the wealthy few who were successful in curbing regulation, or smugly circumvented existing laws.  It is as if a wealthy carefree relative spent the last 20 years wandering the globe, spending money indiscriminately; only to return home penniless, and expect the poor relatives to pay for his thrills.  The wealthy relative insists that they were actually doing  the family a favor, because some of the money spent may eventually trickle down to the poor family.  Having convinced his family to loan him more money, the wealthy relation resumes the indiscriminate spending, while the poor relations resume the payment of his old debts.  Few if any people would tolerate such behavior in their family.  Why do the American people tolerate such behavior in their government?

Wealthy people necessarily have a different agenda than poor people.  A poor person made wealthy will soon adopt the agenda of other wealthy people, and that agenda will be to maximize their wealth and power.  The centralization of wealth and power into a few always comes at the expense of the many.  Regulation of business is the sophisticated realization that particular types of people will tend to exploit others if given the means.  It would be lovely if this was not the case.  Lack of enforcement of existing securities and antitrust law may assist these people in robbing both rich and poor.  The lower class relations have little to no control over their rich spendthrift relative.  Not only are they paying for their wealth relatives’ past debts, they will soon pay for his current adventures in banking and international politics.  There is no higher governance to appeal the case, as the officials listen exclusively to the wealthy relation.  What is making matters worse, the wealthy relative has discontinued finding jobs for his poor relations.   It is feared that his poor relations will not be able to pay off the debts of their wealthy relative in the future.

Excuse me if I do not continue this discussion.  I’m feeling a little tense right now…

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