Publisher's Note: Angry folks
A few days ago I ran into a man in his 80s who got so angry about the state of things he could barely speak. But itís not just him. Itís seems that almost every day I run into someone angry about things and by things I mean some form of our government or President Barack Obama.
Many times I ran across people who didnít like presidents George Bush or Bill Clinton, but they werenít spitting mad about it.
Anger isnít new in politics, though. We need only look back to the 1960s to see angry people in the streets. Nor is angry right or wrong from my perspective; itís just unusual.
On the face of it, it seems kind of obvious why many of us are angry now: weíre poorer now than we were five years ago and many of us are still out of work.
But I donít think thatís it, or at least thatís not all of it. Most of the really angry people Iíve met have jobs or are retired. I find it hard to believe people are actually angry about the debt; itís been rising for years. The same goes for health care. Itís hard to have a strong emotion about something that actually hasnít happened yet. Favor it or oppose it, no one knows what effect it will have on patients, hospitals or the government.
As my wife tells me, anger is frustration turned outward and that seems a reasonable definition given that when people were angry in the 1960s they were frustrated with how the system treated them.
So what are people actually frustrated about now?
I think at the core itís fairness ó or lack of fairness. In most of my discussions about this, someone is getting something for nothing. While the housing bust has hurt all of us, some people are getting government help while most of us are paying for that help. That doesnít sound fair. If my income has gone down but Iím still working and youíre collecting unemployment (that Iím paying for) when I know you can work, that doesnít sound fair. How about bankers still making millions in salaries when our tax dollars are bailing them out? Fair?
While most of us feel that we owe our fair share for the cost of running the schools, roads, an army and other needed public services that are shared by all, we have a problem with public monies that benefit just our neighbors. Thatís probably why anger has not been directed at a particular minority. Historically thatís unusual too.
A big question remains: will this era of anger lead to the kind of wholesale changes seen in the 1960s?
Good economic news: Ford Motor Company turned a profit during the last quarter (July through September) and the federal government is selling some of its shares in General Motors. Though itís unlikely to break even on its bailout of GM, the government will do a lot better than expected. As the government winds down some of the bailouts, the cost of the bailouts keeps falling.