- Unemployment or underemployment.
- Poverty, stagnant economies & concentration of wealth.
- Nonrepresentative government.
What’s past is prologue
Certainly the first two conditions are true in the U.S. 9.1% of American people are unemployed and another 10 million people have given up looking for jobs or are working part time against their preference. The country’s wealth is becoming more concentrated: “As of 2007, the top decile of American earners pulled in 49.7 percent of total wages.”
The only point up for discussion is whether our government is acting in the the people’s best interest. While I would argue not, it probably doesn’t matter. What matters is how people perceive the government is acting. Clearly, satisfaction with the federal government is pretty damn low. We agree on that!
So what’s standing between us and civil unrest?
Until a year or so ago, I would have said that the American public was so distracted by wars (heroism, sacrifice), social issues (abortion, gay marriage), false dichotomies in patriotism (civil liberties, security), and social divisiveness (racism, anti-immigrant sentiment) that they were blind to the increasing inequality in our society. That we were so distracted by social issues that we didn’t notice how bad the governance was – or maybe we didn’t care.
It feels different lately. People are focused on the issues of governance- spending, budgeting, priorities – but our discourse is so distinctly uncivil, so horribly without empathy, that the histrionics prevent solutions. So the situation deteriorates, the rhetoric escalates and sensible people walk away from the discussion.