Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Why aren't Americans mad?

by Macdoogles

  • A few years ago we started to see the rise of Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party movements, both of which I believe tapped in to anger among the working class over inequities and injustices in American society but those things seem to be dying down and I just can't understand why the average American isn't angrier then they are. Some pretty ridiculous things have been happening recently:

    Yet another banking giant, this time HSBC, has gotten a pass on criminal charges further proving that the US has a two tiered justice system where the rich can do whatever they want while the rest of the public pays the price. HSBC execs admitted to laundering billions of dollars in Mexican drug cartel and terrorism money, yet won’t see a single criminal charge for it. Instead, the bank agreed to pay $1.9 billion to the feds last week, which is about five months of revenue. The reason given was that putting executives from a ‘systemically important institution’ in jail for drug money laundering would threaten the stability of the financial system. source. For the rest of us who aren't "too big to jail", criminal drug offenses could result in the seizure of all of your property and long prison sentences. The US has the largest prison population in the world, with almost 700,000 more people in prison than it's closest competitor China, despite having a population that is 4 times smaller.
  • In less than two days a lame duck government in Michigan passed anti-union laws in a state that has traditionally been a union stronghold, inciting massive protests. Regardless of your position on "right to work" legislation what's clear is that the law was clearly unpopular which is probably why the bill was pushed through so quick, disallowing any time for debate or political action. Even more disconcerting is that it was passed during a lame duck session in which 52% of the party that supported the bill lost. Many politicians said they didn't have enough time to read it with one Democrat claiming "this is where democracy goes to die." Some of the politicians, Governor Rick Snyder in particular, had previously said they wouldn't sign such legislation. The law makes it difficult for unions to match political donations from corporations and wealthy individuals. It has been said that one of the biggest reasons for the decline of unions is government legislation. Sorry to take sides on this issue, but I did find this map of "right to work" states vs. this map of former slave states a bit sobering.
  • EDIT: I forgot to mention that the emergency management plan also in Michigan. The pubic voted it down through referendum but, in a lame duck session where the politicians who supported were also on their way out, put it back in place. Again, putting aside the details of the actual legislation, what seems most troublesome is the lack of respect for the democratic process. It certainly appears that these politicians are not interested in respecting the will of the people.
  • Talks about the US "fiscal cliff" continue. Regardless of what solution is adopted, if any, austerity measures are probably coming. The last I heard Obama was ready to increase the the income level of those who he wants to raise taxes on from $250k/yr to $400k/yr while reducing "future cost of living" increases in social security and some other cuts. Source
And it's not like any of this stuff is new. Corporations and governments doing stuff the people don't like seems to be the norm now. Over the years we've seen unpopular health care changes, unnecessary wars, wiretapping and a growing surveillance state, massive student, consumer and home owner debt and even torture. At what point do Americans start getting mad?

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