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79% of Americans Want an Audit of the Fed, Only 21% are in Favor of Confirming Bernanke, and Only 20% Think Geithner is Doing a Good Job

George Washington's picture





 

79 percent of the American public is in favor of auditing the Fed,
according to a new poll by Rassumussen. Because another 14% are not
sure, that leaves only 7% opposed to an audit. And as Rassumussen, the
support for auditing the Fed is nonpartisan and very widespread:

#333333; display: block;">Unlike many issues tracked by Rasmussen Reports, there is virtually no partisan disagreement on the issue of auditing the Fed.

#333333; display: block;"> 

#333333; display: block;">Similarly,
investors and non-investors are equally supportive of the idea.
Generally speaking, there is overwhelming support for such auditing
across all demographic categories.

Another poll by Rassumussen shows that only 21 percent of Americans favor confirming Bernanke for another term as Fed chairman.

Rasumussen also points out:

 

Americans
continue to be critical of another key player on the economic front,
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Forty-two percent (42%) of
Americans say Geithner has done a poor job
handling the credit crisis and federal bailout programs. Twenty percent
(20%) rate Geithner’s performance in these areas as good or excellent.

 

Consumer confidence as measured by the Rasmussen Consumer Index has fallen to a four-month low.

Small Businesses Have Lost Confidence Also

You
might assume that - despite the public's lack of confidence in
Bernanke, Geithner and the economy - at least businesses are confident.

However, as Rassumussen notes:

After three months of gains, the Rasmussen Employment Index
dropped more than four points in November to its lowest level since
July. Just 14% of workers now say their employers are hiring, the
lowest total since February.

 

Economic confidence
among America's small business owners in the Discover (R) Small
Business Watch(SM) index plummeted in November, as more owners cited
serious concerns about cash flow and saw economic conditions for their
own businesses getting worse.

Specifically, Discover reports:

 

Economic
confidence among America's small business owners plummeted in November,
as more owners cited serious concerns about cash flow and saw economic
conditions for their own businesses getting worse. The Discover Small
Business Watch index fell 12 points in November to 76.5 from 88.5 in
October...

  • The mood of small
    business owners generally has soured in November for three straight
    years, as economic confidence dropped from October to November in 2007
    and 2008. The November 2008 index of 67.5 is the low point for the
    Watch since it started in August 2006.
  • 52
    percent of owners say they have experienced cash flow issues in the
    past 90 days, up from 44 percent in October. Forty-one percent of
    owners say they have not experienced cash flow issues, which is the
    lowest response in this category since the Watch began. The remaining 6
    percent said they weren't sure.
  • 53
    percent of small business owners see conditions getting worse in the
    next six months, up from 43 percent in October; while 19 percent report
    that conditions are improving, a sharp decline from 29 percent in
    October; 23 percent see conditions as the same, and 5 percent weren't
    sure.
  • 62 percent of small business
    owners rate the economy as poor, an increase from 55 percent in
    October; 30 percent rate it as fair, and 8 percent say it is good or
    excellent.
  • 53 percent of small
    business owners think the overall economy is getting worse, up from 44
    percent in October but still significantly lower than the 69 percent of
    owners who felt that way in February 2009, the last time the Watch
    index was this low. For November; 28 percent say the economy is getting
    better, down from 35 percent in October; 16 percent see it staying the
    same, and 3 percent are not sure.

Wall Street
might believe that everything is grand, but small businesses are the
engines which create job growth in America, and if they are
pessimistic, they won't hire.

The Economy Cannot Recover Until Bernanke and Geithner are replaced

As I have repeatedly written, the economy cannot fundamentally stabilize until trust is restored.

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich wrote that Wall Street's biggest problem right now is the collapse of trust:

The
problem is, government bailouts, subsidies, and insurance aren't really
helping Wall Street. The Street's fundamental problem isn't lack of
capital. It's lack of trust. And without trust, Wall Street might as
well fold up its fancy tents.

A 2005 letter in premier scientific journal Nature reviews the research on trust and economics:

Trust ... plays a key role in economic exchange and politics. In the absence of trust among trading partners, market transactions break down.
In the absence of trust in a country's institutions and leaders,
political legitimacy breaks down. Much recent evidence indicates that
trust contributes to economic, political and social success.

Forbes wrote an article in 2006 entitled "The Economics of Trust". The article summarizes the importance of trust in creating a healthy economy:

Imagine
going to the corner store to buy a carton of milk, only to find that
the refrigerator is locked. When you've persuaded the shopkeeper to
retrieve the milk, you then end up arguing over whether you're going to
hand the money over first, or whether he is going to hand over the
milk. Finally you manage to arrange an elaborate simultaneous exchange.
A little taste of life in a world without trust--now imagine trying to
arrange a mortgage.

 

Being able to trust people might seem like a
pleasant luxury, but economists are starting to believe that it's
rather more important than that. Trust is about more than whether you
can leave your house unlocked; it is responsible for the difference
between the richest countries and the poorest.

 

"If you take a
broad enough definition of trust, then it would explain basically all
the difference between the per capita income of the United States and
Somalia," ventures Steve Knack, a senior economist at the World Bank
who has been studying the economics of trust for over a decade. That
suggests that trust is worth $12.4 trillion dollars a year to the U.S.,
which, in case you are wondering, is 99.5% of this country's income. ***

 

Above all, trust enables people to do business with each other. Doing business is what creates wealth. ***

 

Economists
distinguish between the personal, informal trust that comes from being
friendly with your neighbors and the impersonal, institutionalized
trust that lets you give your credit card number out over the Internet.

Similarly, market psychologists Richard L. Peterson M.D. and Frank Murtha, Ph.D. wrote in 2008:

Trust is the oil in the engine of capitalism, without it, the engine seizes up.

Confidence is like the gasoline, without it the machine won't move.

Trust
is gone: there is no longer trust between counterparties in the
financial system. Furthermore, confidence is at a low. Investors have
lost their confidence in the ability of shares to provide decent
returns (since they haven't).

And two professors of finance write:

The
drop in trust, we believe, is a major factor behind the deteriorating
economic conditions. To demonstrate its importance, we launched the
Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index. Our first set of
data—based on interviews conducted at the end of December 2008—shows
that between September and December, 52 percent of Americans lost trust
in the banks. Similarly, 65 percent lost trust in the stock market. A
BBB/Gallup poll that surveyed a similar sample of Americans last April
confirms this dramatic drop. At that time, 42 percent of Americans
trusted financial institutions, versus 34 percent in our survey today,
while 53 percent said they trusted U.S. companies, versus just 12
percent today.

 

As trust declines, so does Americans’
willingness to invest their money in the financial system. Our data
show that trust in the stock market affects people’s intention to buy
stocks, even after accounting for expectations of future stock-market
performance. Similarly, a person’s trust in banks predicts the
likelihood that he will make a run on his bank in a moment of crisis:
25 percent of those who don’t trust banks withdrew their deposits and
stored them as cash last fall, compared with only 3 percent of those
who said they still trusted the banks. Thus, trust in financial
institutions is a key factor for the smooth functioning of capital
markets and, by extension, the economy. Changes in trust matter.

They quote a Nobel laureate economist on the subject:

“Virtually
every commercial transaction has within itself an element of trust,”
writes economist Kenneth Arrow, a Nobel laureate. When we deposit money
in a bank, we trust that it’s safe. When a company orders goods, it
trusts its counterpart to deliver them in good faith. Trust facilitates
transactions because it saves the costs of monitoring and screening; it
is an essential lubricant that greases the wheels of the economic
system.

America knows that Bernanke and Geithner have acted
in the interests of the largest banks, and not done much to help Main
street or the American people.

Trust will not be restored until
Bernanke and Geithner are replaced with people whose loyalty is to the
American public and small businesses, rather than the Wall Street
giants, and whose track record demonstrates that they will put the
entire economy as a whole - rather than the big boys - first.

 


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Tue, 12/08/2009 - 00:52 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 12/08/2009 - 00:50 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 22:45 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 20:20 | Link to Comment windiepink
windiepink's picture

...79% you say? And this assumption is based on?

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 20:03 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 19:45 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 19:43 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 20:42 | Link to Comment Cheddar Bob
Cheddar Bob's picture

short and sweet.

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 18:02 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 17:50 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 16:33 | Link to Comment trav777
trav777's picture

WTF...someone is cribbing my goddamned writing!

I am the one person I've ever seen who uses "zugzwang" in economic writing and now I see it pop up in an article by Clive Maund

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 16:12 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 15:50 | Link to Comment DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture
79% of Americans Want an Audit of the Fed, Only 21% are in Favor of Confirming Bernanke, and Only 20% Think Geithner is Doing a Good Job....and four out of five dentists recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum What else is new. They all suck. Gordon Gekko's Got it Right. Start from Scratch.  This batch is spoiled   
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 15:31 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 15:26 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 14:00 | Link to Comment anarkst
anarkst's picture

"Trust will not be restored until Bernanke and Geithner are replaced with people whose loyalty is to the American public and small businesses, rather than the Wall Street giants,..."

 

Trust??  America is full of liars.  Nobody trusts anybody anymore.  All of these characters are infinitely interchangeable and replaceable.  If the professional class knows how to do anything, it knows how to lie, cheat, and steal.  America needs to confess, repent, and only then can confidence be restored.   

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 13:16 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 19:32 | Link to Comment Cistercian
Cistercian's picture

 Unfortunately, the discussion of the American, and proper recourse to this problem is banned from this site.This is due, in no small measure, to the anti-American totalitarian reality in which we now exist.If the "reset" you refer to occurs, have no illusion as to how the mess will play out.

 I agree with your premise.I wish I could discuss the actual ramifications of it and what it would entail.Complete collapse....it seems so close.It must seem closer to those who are homeless due to job loss.They are already in the sad vanguard of where we are headed as a nation....total dispossession.

 Was not Thomas Jefferson's prescience incredible?

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 13:03 | Link to Comment Neo of Zion
Neo of Zion's picture

The entire value of our currency is trust - look at the back of your dollar.

IN GOD WE TRUST

and no other...

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 23:34 | Link to Comment Hephasteus
Hephasteus's picture

The dollar is like the FED and the SEC. In GOD we trust. Everybody else is under suspicion.

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 13:02 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 12:55 | Link to Comment Careless Whisper
Careless Whisper's picture

We need a triple play; Bernanke, Geithner, Summers. They are sooo 90's and everything that is wrong with the way things are headed.

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 13:05 | Link to Comment Neo of Zion
Neo of Zion's picture

ZH so 2008, Fed so 2000-late

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 12:49 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 16:51 | Link to Comment Miles Kendig
Miles Kendig's picture

It is supremely unfortunate that the fine lady that stands outside of or atop most courthouses in America has indeed had her blindfold ripped off, been trafficked, scales tossed aside, forced to wear a pastel micro-mini, clear heels and charges by the minute. Until this wonderful lady upon whom our society rests is restored we are in for rough sledding.

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 12:46 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 12:24 | Link to Comment trav777
trav777's picture

Trust won't be restored.  We have larger problems.

You may trust your counterparty, but if his business plan has no hope of succeeding, you aren't committing capital to it.

The business plan of world economics is to GROW out of this mess.  We have an economy that works like a tumor.  Grow and consume.

Firing Geithner and Bernanke won't make a single bit of difference.  Their stupidity or inability to accept reality won't make the real world function differently.

Every move these guys have made is foreordained.  Look at NeObama...he was calling to pull the troops out during the campaign.  Now, he gets in and what does he do?  The opposite.  That is because he doesn't HAVE the option to do what he wants or what he promised.

This is like sitting down to a chessboard played by somebody else and you're already in the endgame.  The moves are already determined at that stage of the contest.  Al Gore would have invaded Iraq because of the oil supply situation and impending Peak, which Dick Chainy talked about repeatedly.  This is zugzwang.

The die really is already cast here, and everybody must fill their roles in the play.

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 20:37 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 20:12 | Link to Comment Ripped Chunk
Ripped Chunk's picture

I have to say I agree with everything you write here.

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 12:03 | Link to Comment Miles Kendig
Miles Kendig's picture

Trust - A state where our political class tell us one thing while doing another. (See Bush and a "minimalist foreign policy" or Obama "Change we can believe in")

Confidence - A condition where we are led to believe that commerce and exchange can be accomplished with continuity while actively destroying the value of that very medium of exchange.  (See the Bush & Obama policies of supporting a strong dollar vs the history of the DXY.  While Bush said deficits don't matter while sustaining the "heart of the nation" - The money center banks with the ownership society, Obama acts like with the trillions he is giving away (23.7 trillion known to date) to sustain full employment and the mandated minimum wage in said heart of the nation he must up the ante on the crumbs tossed to the masses to sustain said confidence while fighting a losing battle against total collapse and default by state, county and local governments across the nation.)

Full Employment - A condition where given the number of citizens with employment capable of sustaining economic development (That thing called the entrepreneurial spirit) and economic sustainment (Where those things called wages payable in a currency - See "confidence" above) are sufficient to maintain the economic balance of the debt service of that society.  (The needs of the banks and the government that serves them is paramount to the security and health of the nation.  Not some quaint, romantic ideas about small businesses being sustained by the psychology of a nation premised upon the entrepreneurial spirit and free enterprise.  Laughing stock concepts that trust and confidence are marketable commodities easily manipulated via a Broad Street or Madison Avenue ad campaign.  At least we now know who is the very personification of GOD on earth thanks to the good Lord Blankfein and his Broad Street campaign.)

I suspect that given these operative conditions many Americans find themselves in it is no wonder so many are rejecting these constructs of trust, confidence and full employment and finding themselves labeled 'unable to adapt" and cosigned to a life of Ritalin, Xanax, Porzac and all of the other pharmaceuticals so necessary to keep trust & confidence going. As more and more folks examine the structure and decide that the citizens who reject the construct are in fact reacting normally to an abnormal situation and these citizens come to terms with the reality that it is the so called heart of the nation and those that populate and perpetuate it that are quite sick. 

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 11:45 | Link to Comment earnyermoney
earnyermoney's picture

In my opinion, trust will be restored when perpetrators of financial fraud are prosecuted for their crimes. This includes individuals in the public and private sector.

If an audit of the Federal Reserve were to happen, I'm confident it would reveal the criminal nature of the Treasury and Federal Reserve.

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 17:17 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 11:28 | Link to Comment Ned Zeppelin
Ned Zeppelin's picture

It's time for another Zero Hedge status update and push on the Audit the Fed bill.  The Bernanke "hearings" and inevitable reconfirmation are not worth the political energy.  There is a slight chance that Audit the Fed could pass, I think, but we'll never know unless we push it here and elsewhere as hard as we can.

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 11:27 | Link to Comment SWRichmond
SWRichmond's picture

Mises, in his masterful essay "Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth", showed clearly why command economies must fail: by thwarting price signals, capital and resources are misallocated and economic activity breaks down.  The fact that "our servants" can still believe that we can lie our way out of this mess shall stand as a lasting monument to hubris.  Trust cannot be restored until truth is restored, and truth cannot be restored until a critical mass of players loses faith in the command economy.  When the looting stops, that will be the signal. 

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 15:17 | Link to Comment B9K9
B9K9's picture

SW, I generally like your comments, as they tend to be unique & insightful, but like a few other intelligent posters, you really need to dispense with the naivete.

Mises, to his everlasting credit, was an intellectual, much like Rothbard, who believed in the product of his work. Hence, his conclusions that command economies fail primarily due to technical reasons such as misallocation of resources, etc.

Hayek has much better insight and gets right down to the crux of the issue: forget such niceties such as inefficient pricing signals, etc. The bottom line is that ANY top heavy social structure will INEVITABLY produce a Hitler-esque environment.

The assignment of monopoly power to various state functions, to the detriment of the private sector, simply ensures that pathological criminals will be attracted to the most valuable, yet weakest link in the economic system.

Our servants, as you call them, no more believe that they can lie their way out of this mess than they believe in Santa. The point is that they simply DO NOT CARE whether or not you recognize that they are looting in broad daylight.

The criminal class are "all in" that nothing will personally happen to them. Right now, it's getting to the point of a wolf pack killing frenzy, where the predators are experiencing an endorphin high of complete nihilistic behavior.

A few posters @ ZH get it; others who aren't so subtle get banned/regulated. I am patiently waiting for you, Deadhead, et al to stop with the "if they just did this, then perhaps things could get better" line of reasoning.

There's only one solution, and that is a complete re-build after this sucker goes down.

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 21:57 | Link to Comment SWRichmond
SWRichmond's picture

Do not imagine me naive.  Many different stripes come here to ZH and read, bringing many different grasps of the elephant. I have engaged in this discussion with many different people with may different outlooks, some of whom are totally immune to or dismissive of any discussion of corruption as the cause for failure (they will assert that all systems are corrupt and cite examples of systems that continued to exist for hundreds of years).  I know there is a criminal class running the show.  I have clearly stated elsewhere, and perhaps here on other occasions, that "we are living in a criminal conspiracy and we are the marks."  Merely repeating this message will continue to fail to reach those who are dismissive of it; believe me, I've tried. 

I consider it possible, though, that some who might ignore a message based on corruption might be receptive to one that is more technical, especially since this is a technical market site.  And it is a fact that command economies must fail, in spite of everything else, because no one is smart enough to correctly divine the  wants and needs of hundreds of millions of individual souls, and because ultimately no one produces anything of value anymore, and for all the reasons outlined by Mises.  It does no harm to point to the great body of scholarly research that exists but remains largely unknown because it is not what TPTB want people knowing.

Those of us who have studied history must do everything in our power to bring as many to our side as possible and prepare them for the crisis; it is out of the crisis itself that Hitler arose.  The uninformed and unprepared will want a strongman to fix things for them.  Scary times indeed.  When I look across the water at the control and surveillance society that UK has become I see where we might be headed in just a few years' time. 

Edit: "When the looting stops" is a reference to the time when there is nothing left worth taking and the efforts by the government to prop up the system will cease.  That is when they will try to implement martial law.

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 16:32 | Link to Comment BoeingSpaceliner797
BoeingSpaceliner797's picture

B9K9,

A thoroughly corrupted system, as a direct result of its thorough corruption, cannot be rehabilitated/fixed/etc.  It is, in many ways, like a condemned building. 

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 10:40 | Link to Comment Cursive
Cursive's picture

The turn is coming.  Many posting here and elsewhere have expressed the usual cynicism that the American people are too lazy and too stupid to make the necessary changes to fix our economic and social problems.  I believe we will.  We've all got to keep doing our part, though.  WRT trust, we'd be a lot better off if we really trusted in God and not the promised utopia's of imperfect beings such a Man.

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 16:26 | Link to Comment janchup
janchup's picture

Trust God. That is funny but it is true, people really do trust hallucinations.

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 11:00 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 10:18 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 10:16 | Link to Comment Steak
Steak's picture

<America knows that Bernanke and Geithner have acted in the interests of the largest banks, and not done much to help Main street or the American people.>

Both men would almost certainly say that theirs is a problem of communication and not of actual poor (let alone disastrous) performance.  Indeed they would (and have) claim that their actions helped save the world.  And that speaks to both men's true skills: politics.  Bernanke did all but fellate Greenspan in terms of sucking up to the guy.  Geithner has proven time and time again he can cultivate high powered allies without actually DOing anything.

Another typical DC debating tactic is to question an opponent's facts in mind numbing detail, dismissing entire theses at the first possible quibble.  "Qana is in the SE of Lebanon, not SW as you claimed, all your points about the middle east are bunk" for example.  So Geithner and Bernanke surely say to the Prez that this disapproving public could not set forth a list of indictments against them and even if they tried the facts would be inaccurate, and that is technically true.

But for all that people dismiss the collective wisdom of the American people, we can tell when we're being screwed.  The objective political scientist in me says that the longer these asshats stay in, the more likely we'll see a Republican legislature and WH in 2012, if on nothing else but a wave of anti-incumbent sentiment regardless of party.

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 17:20 | Link to Comment Miles Kendig
Miles Kendig's picture

Steak, the practiced political observer that I am is convinced that many folks believe that it matters not the party, the results will be the same.  Many younger participants have become deeply disillusioned with the discovery that they have been used like a cookie at a capitol hill Bar-B-Que.  This while seniors realize that there can be no hope of financial stability in government spending without their consent at deelectrification the third rail of American politics for the sake of sustaining the minimum wage on Wall Street.  That isn't gonna happen either. 

So, what we have here is what Peggy Noonan has called the collapsing bell curve of popular support that any segment of political or industrial leadership is actually capable of leadership. Given these operative conditions I suspect that turnout will be at historic lows during the mid-term elections.  While the "loyal opposition" discovers that history and actual ideas and how to rally support to enact and sustain them does matter.  Then the 2012 cycle will continue the process of self enforced disenfranchisement and further splintering of the electorate with each segment becoming more embittered with every other segment. Given these conditions the process of looting will continue unabated until it collapses of its own weight.  At that time, without a significant change in operative conditions our society will have become even more fragmented than either of us consider possible with the attendant effects upon the process of transition to wherever we will go as a society from there.

BTW, happy 4:20 pal.

Tue, 12/08/2009 - 01:50 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 10:11 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 11:25 | Link to Comment Ned Zeppelin
Ned Zeppelin's picture

It has never recovered from the loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs and there is absolutely no hope on the horizon for it to improve in any shape or form. The story of this city has been repeated thousands of times all across the U.S.

The data speaks.  Who has benefitted from our policies? Who believes "free trade" is such a great idea? Transnational corporations, not the demos. Not the former inhabitants of those towns, who once worked and earned a working wage, and had hopes and dreams.  Did anyone ask the question: which policies support our fellow citzens now and into the future?  

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 10:05 | Link to Comment Daedal
Daedal's picture

79% of Americans Want an Audit of the Fed, Only 21% are in Favor of Confirming Bernanke, and Only 20% Think Geithner is Doing a Good Job

First, I want to acknowledge that I agree 100% that auditing the Fed, as well as firing Geitner and Bernanke, is necessary.

Having said that, the statistics about what most Americans think is of little value. We had the same caliber of people in charge 2000-2007 and if you did the survey in 2007 I'm sure most of those people would've approved of Bernanke and not cared about auditing the fed (as was the case).

Before we start using statistics to support our point, we should at least acknowledge that people are reacting to the economic situation they are in, and are simply pointing figures. They just happen to be right, but only as a byproduct of circumstance, not as a result of any rational understanding.

Point being: even if everyone was approving of Bernanke and Geitner and did not want the Fed audited, doesn't mean that the Fed ought not be audited, or that Tweedledee and Tweedledum ought not be fired.

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 16:47 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Mon, 12/07/2009 - 09:25 | Link to Comment moneymutt
moneymutt's picture

Great insight too little emphasized in these times. I often think of this in more general times...just compare a neighborhood or a country where it is in a time of Pax, low crime, trust, optimism, to a neighborhood or country in a time of war, crime, corruption, fear and you find two worlds inhabited by people of almost same make-up but of wholly different results. Think of a working class neighborhood during time of good jos, things are stable, crime is low, people don't lock their doors. During times of segregation in US, 40s, 50s, 60s black neighborhoods were poor compared to white, but US economy was doing quite well and working class was doing quite well, and these nieghborhoods were stable and safe, few locked their doors, but check back 15 years later, same people more or less but everything is bombed out, shot up, and drugged up. Same thing happens in working class areas in England, like Liverpool, people don't just fall on economic hard times, everything falls apart, crime, drugs run rampant.

Michael Moore did a bit in one of his movies about Canadians not locking their doors, I don't think Canadians are more moral than US, but I think a culture, a country goes through times where they are happy and stable and secure and times where they are fearful and insecure.

Mexico gives a recent example of a country on such a descent. Trust is gone, streets are war zones. Drugs and crime. Compare them Costa Rica's progress or even say Peru's progress in last 15 years.

The need for security and protection in a rough culture is such a parasitical wasteful drain on the commonwealth.

It seems to me the "plenty" dissappears first, then trust, then a death sprial decrease in both. What seperates any neighborhood or country from good times of PAX and bad times of war, crime, insecurity seems like a scary thin line.

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