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November 9, 2011

The Long-Term Fear Factor

Kevin E. Dayhoff

Recently the political turmoil in Italy and Greece, France’s increasing financial troubles, and the lack of leadership in Europe and the United States, are slowly edging the planet from an economic crisis to a long-term fear factor.


Not to be overlooked are the troubled national economies of Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and Japan, punctuated by the sharp populist rhetoric of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign attacks on “the rich,” banks, Wall Street and big multi-national corporations.


Economic and political uncertainly is one thing. However, the growing social instability exemplified by the civil unrest in Greece and the Occupy Wall Street protests in the United States should give most thinking Americans, with sense of history, pause for thought.


In spite of the fact that the message of the Occupy Wall Street protestors is muddled, if not incoherent; putting an exclamation point on the generalized perception of dismay and unease over the current state of economic affairs could easily be understood as a call for action.


Not so much for the crime, destruction and increasing anarchist-meaningless actions of what has evolved into the rampage of a hate-filled mob.


After dire ‘the sky is falling’ prognostications by the mainstream media that the Tea Party demonstrations would devolve into a hate-filled mobocracy, a hate-filled, anarchist violent mob showed-up on the national landscape in the form of Occupy Wall Street. The very same Democratic Party and the mainstream media sang its praises and egged it on.


A theme expanded upon well by John Hawkins in “10 Quotes That Tell You How Bad The Occupy Wall Street Movement Has Gotten,” was published Monday on


However, both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street have their merits. Jonathan Kay explained it well in “All recent mass movements, from trade unions and anti-globalization protests to Tea Party rallies and Canada’s Reform Party, attracted bigots. But intelligent people don’t judge a movement on the basis of the fringe haters they inevitably attract.”


Here’s the thing! “Even though Occupy Wall Street is sort of a smellier, dirtier, less focused, more violent bizarre-world version of the Tea Party, some of the people attending the protests do mean well – and they do have at least one legitimate grievance,” explained Mr. Hawkins, the author of Right Wing News in “5 Myths Helping to Drive Occupy Wall Street,” published in


“Both parties in power gave the thumbs up to TARP and the bailouts, which were really little more than ‘heads, we win; tails, the taxpayers lose’ crony socialism,” continued Mr. Hawkins. “Whether it's banks, big agriculture, solar firms, General Motors, or Chevrolet, big business shouldn't be given our tax dollars. If they can only make it with an infusion of taxpayer dollars, then it's better for the country in the long run if they don't survive.”


Although I tend to lean toward Mr. Kay’s analysis that the Occupy movement is not “one big Democratic-supported, anti-Semitic jamboree,” the problem is the further instability that it adds to the current toxic witches’ brew of global uncertainty, which is alarming.


The yeast that is giving rise to the increased uncertainty and instability can be found in what Politico writers Glenn Thrush and Scott Wong observed on October 5: “Obama’s team has been looking for ways to signal, if not overtly express, its support for a growing wave of anti-Wall Street protests that progressives hope will be the left’s answer to the tea party movement.”


The context is the downfall of Greece’s Prime Minister George A. Papandreou and the possibility of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi leaving office will not solve anything.


There is no leadership or political party in either country, the eurozone, globally, or in the United States, which is willing to tackle the fundamental economic policy changes necessary to address the challenges of crushing sovereign debt.


The only exception may be France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy or German Chancellor Angela Dorothea Murkel, (arguably the current most powerful leader in the world.)


Yet, to make matters worse, you can now add France to the growing “list of countries with troubled financial situations,” according to Douglas A. McIntyre in


In the United States “Liberals have long argued that a message calling for the wealthy to pay their fair share is broadly popular — and indeed, most polls show voters support abstract proposals calling for higher taxes on the rich. But it’s rarely worked in practice,” wrote John Kraushaar recently in the National Journal.


The so-called “jobs bill,” highly touted by President Obama, will not create any new jobs. It is nothing more that any failed attempt to increase debt and government spending in the form of a stimulus package. It is called a jobs initiative because that term is poll-tested – and the word “stimulus” is toxic.


Not only is the populist political rhetoric causing problems, it is compounded by the president’s actual economic policies or lack thereof, which are making the global social, economic and political volatility worse.


Dr. J.D. Foster explained it well for The Heritage Foundation: “In this environment, Congress need not enact bad policy to weaken the economy. Threats suffice to do real damage… The President’s repeated insistence on raising taxes on high-income workers and investors slows the economy even without the policy being enacted. It does so by raising the uncertainty about the tax consequences of various actions. It does not stop all such actions, but it stops some…”


However, in a competition for what could possibly be the scariest repeating chorus in this little-shop-of-horrors opera, it is the populist rhetoric that glues together the civil unrest, the peril of sovereign debt, continued volatility of the financial markets and the political turmoil.


Add it all up and the only conclusion is that the problem with the planet is no longer simply explained as the weakened economy, the fear factor is the steady erosion and deterioration of democracy as a form of government.


. . . . .I’m just saying….


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