STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
American Anger Is All the Rage
By Staff News & Analysis - August 24, 2009

Seven months after President Barack Obama took office promising change and offering hope, another emotion is clanging in American ears: anger. Anger over massive job losses in a wounded, perhaps healing, economy. Anger over fat bonuses paid to bankers and Wall Street executives bailed out on the public dime. Anger over foreclosures, mortgage fraud and the plight of gullible or greedy homeowners duped by predatory lenders. And now – genuine or manufactured – anger over possible health-care reform. – Quad Cities

Dominant Social Theme: Annoyed? …

Free-Market Analysis: We don't agree with this analysis. We've written before that we think the West and especially America, has entered a second (or third) phase of the Internet era – and that the ‘Net is indeed a game changer. The Internet has provided a new view of the world for many users, one that has upset many otherwise settled beliefs. When belief systems begin to fail, those who hold them, often feel anger and frustration. Here's some more from the article excerpted above:

Stephen Caliendo, an associate professor of political science at Illinois' North Central College, said anger exhibited by forum-goers is genuine. But he also believes the anger is about more than just health care. In recent months, people have watched their jobs and homes disappear. College costs are rising. Retirement accounts are down. "I think the anger is very real," Caliendo said. He said people are anxious, frustrated and fearful. They want to fight, so they're fighting. The town-hall meetings have become the arena, and health-care reform is the punching bag. Psychologists even have a name for it: "incidental anger." "When something appears that allows us to focus or channel that anger, the anger in that new situation becomes intensified," said Harvard University psychologist Jennifer Lerner. On the positive side, MU's Collins said that "anger energizes and it mobilizes … and almost all of us can see examples in the past of righteous anger."

To explain the anger that Americans feel as "incidental anger" generated by bad economic times certainly sounds logical. But something else is stirring. There was anger in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s but there were no tea parties, town halls or liberty rallies for libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-Tex). The so-called anger is akin to the anger that many apparently felt once they'd read the original Bible courtesy of the Gutenberg Press. The various practices, rituals and rewards that the Roman Catholic Church had claimed were necessary to pass into heaven were nowhere to be seen, and eventually these distortions and lacunae led to the Reformation. Worshippers felt betrayed.

There are rituals – or at least themes – abounding on the Internet including Peak Oil, Environmentalism, Global Warming, Central Banking, Stock Market Investing, Retirement Planning, Fiat Money, Democratic Rule, Muslim Extremism, etc. In our humble opinion, these constituted the spiritual nourishment of the late 20th century. And bankers and money-men were (in hindsight) positioned via the media as Shepherds of the Age. The promotions of the monetary elite, buttressed by ever-higher barriers-to-entry, were designed (when married to actionable legislation) to generate an endless stream of wealth and control. But the Internet, in providing these promotions, also provided information to undermine them.

The Internet has made this financial crisis and this spate of recession-generated anger different from any other. People are losing faith in the memes of the 20th century in the 21st. The last real downturn of long-term significance was in the 1970s and there was a good deal of contrarian thinking and writing that took place then in the West. Gold and silver eventually traveled up significantly as did price inflation.

After Thoughts

But the late 2000s make the 1970s look relatively tame, in our opinion. The contrarian thinking and writing has already influenced a generation and it is likely helping to produce the current disenchantment and disenfranchisement that is translating into what the mainstream media sees as anger. This is truly an age of apostasy, and we await with interest the schisms that will inevitably arise as a result. Lutheranism and then Protestantism arose from the wreckage wrought by the Reformation. What will arise from the disenchantment that is growing regarding central banking, environmentalism, global warming, etc? A gold standard, as we have discussed, might be just the start.

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