Tag Archives: 99%

Populism and the Silent Majority – NYTimes.com

3 Nov

The legacies of Nixon’s pursuit of the silent majority can be found across the political spectrum. In 1972, the community organizer Saul Alinsky portrayed the silent majority as “up for grabs” and promised to “show the middle class their real enemies: the corporate power elite that runs and ruins the country.” In 1980, the Religious Right televangelist Jerry Falwell proclaimed that “God is calling millions of Americans in the so-often silent majority to join in the moral-majority crusade to turn America around.” In his 1981 inaugural, Ronald Reagan updated Nixon’s formula by informing the “heroes” of America — an allegedly classless majority made up of factory workers and entrepreneurs — that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” . . .

Mr. Obama’s challenge in 2012 is not the ideological fervor of Tea Party conservatives, but rather the recognition by many working-class and middle-class voters that both parties favor Wall Street over Main Street. While activist groups on the right and left compete to portray big government or big business as the enemy, the silent majority is still out there in the volatile political center, up for grabs.

via Populism and the Silent Majority – NYTimes.com.

Percentiles — Crooked Timber

14 Oct

I’m now much more sympathetic to the ‘99 per cent’ analysis. First, a closer look at income growth figures suggests that, while the 19 per cent have enjoyed rising incomes, they’ve only barely maintained their share of national income. The redistribution of the past three decades has gone from the bottom 80 per cent to the top 1 per cent.

That suggests the possibility of a policy response in which the main redistributive thrust would be to reverse this process. This would almost certainly involve higher tax payments, but this would be offset by the restoration of public services, which are in economic terms a ‘superior good’, valued more as income rises. The top 1 per cent can buy their own services, and are largely unaffected by public sector cutbacks, but that’s not true of the 19 per cent.

Another important factor is the growth of economic insecurity. The myth of the US as a land of opportunity for upward mobility has been replaced by Barbara Ehrenreich’s Fear of Falling (another good source on this is High Wire by Peter Gosselin). Even if people in the top 19 per cent are doing well, they are less secure than at any time since the 1930s, and their children face even more uncertain prospects.

via Percentiles — Crooked Timber.

Occupy Wall Street

11 Oct

Dead Face of Domination

For an explanation with a positive, if silent, ending, see Wall Street: The Dead Face of Domination.

On why the protests won’t stop, see The Banker’s Don’t Get It.