"...There are the protected and the unprotected. The protected make public policy. The unprotected live in it. The unprotected are starting to push back, powerfully.
The protected are the accomplished, the secure, the successful—those who have power or access to it. They are protected from much of the roughness of the world. More to the point, they are protected from the world they have created. Again, they make public policy and have for some time.
I want to call them the elite to load the rhetorical dice, but let’s stick with the protected.
They are figures in government, politics and media. They live in nice neighborhoods, safe ones. Their families function, their kids go to good schools, they’ve got some money. All of these things tend to isolate them, or provide buffers.
...Because they are protected they feel they can do pretty much anything, impose any reality. They’re insulated from many of the effects of their own decisions.
...If you are an unprotected American—one with limited resources and negligible access to power—you have absorbed some lessons from the past 20 years’ experience of illegal immigration. You know the Democrats won’t protect you and the Republicans won’t help you. Both parties refused to control the border. The Republicans were afraid of being called illiberal, racist, of losing a demographic for a generation. The Democrats wanted to keep the issue alive to use it as a wedge against the Republicans and to establish themselves as owners of the Hispanic vote.
Many Americans suffered from illegal immigration—its impact on labor markets, financial costs, crime, the sense that the rule of law was collapsing. But the protected did fine—more workers at lower wages. No effect of illegal immigration was likely to hurt them personally.
It was good for the protected. But the unprotected watched and saw. They realized the protected were not looking out for them, and they inferred that they were not looking out for the country, either.
The unprotected came to think they owed the establishment—another word for the protected—nothing, no particular loyalty, no old allegiance.
...Similarly in Europe, citizens on the ground in member nations came to see the EU apparatus as a racket—an elite that operated in splendid isolation, looking after its own while looking down on the people.
...What marks this political moment, in Europe and the U.S., is the rise of the unprotected. It is the rise of people who don’t have all that much against those who’ve been given many blessings and seem to believe they have them not because they’re fortunate but because they’re better.
...In places with failing schools, they choose not to help them through the school liberation movement—charter schools, choice, etc.—because they fear to go up against the most reactionary professional group in America, the teachers unions. They let the public schools flounder. But their children go to the best private schools.
This is a terrible feature of our age—that we are governed by protected people who don’t seem to care that much about their unprotected fellow citizens.
And a country really can’t continue this way.
In wise governments the top is attentive to the realities of the lives of normal people, and careful about their anxieties. That’s more or less how America used to be. There didn’t seem to be so much distance between the top and the bottom.
Now is seems the attitude of the top half is: You’re on your own. Get with the program, little racist.
Social philosophers are always saying the underclass must re-moralize.
Maybe it is the overclass that must re-moralize.
I don’t know if the protected see how serious this moment is, or their role in it.
"...Governments and other protected classes have borrowed unmanageable amounts of money and are now maintaining their power by squeezing workers and savers. Corporations lower their costs by shipping jobs overseas while governments cut their debt service by reducing (or eliminating) interest rates on the bank accounts and bond funds that once allowed savers to build capital and retirees to eat.
In this sense, QE, ZIRP and NIRP are a declaration of war on the unprotected, and as the victims figure this out they’re lining up behind anyone who promises to 1) raise the minimum wage, limit immigration, and prevent corporations from moving jobs overseas; 2) break up big banks and jail Wall Street criminals; 3) hand out free stuff, paid for by confiscating the ill-gotten gains of the 1%.
...This is starting to look like the French Revolution, with bankers, CEOs and their favored politicians in the role of Marie Antoinette."