I have a good friend, Robert Fleming. He’s a modest, humble, B-F-D elder law attorney—with serious national credentials—who still tolerates my wandering into his office without advance notice—he works next door to me—to share work and this and that. (We are reaching our limits with Max, who semi-hangs with Robert’s Corgi, Odin, and latches onto lots and lots of chew toys. GF LB did observe, at the Seder on the 15th of Nisan aka April 23, that if I bought some toys for the boy, maybe he’d stop latching onto toys belong to Odin, as well as Doug, the black Lab rescue who hangs, downtown, upstairs. On it, LB and RF.)
So here’s Robert’s comment to It’s the Stupid, Stupid!:
I don’t mean to belittle real pain, but I’m getting more and more skeptical of assertions that “people are angry — and they have a right to be.” Are they really, or is the conservative news generator just continuously churning out angry bits to convince us all, and to make us angry?
I think the economy is in better condition than it has been in a decade. Yes, income inequality is also higher, but unemployment is much lower, inflation has been under control for that decade, interest rates are at historic lows (that’s good for everyone but investors — admittedly including retirees). No doubt there are real problems, and individual stories of real hardship, but aren’t we actually justified in being, well, happy, rather than angry?
And here’s my response:
Let me be clear at the outset: I was not advocating for justifiable anger. Not at all. The anger is way over sold, and largely crap.
Some people are struggling, and many of them will always struggle. Then there are those people who just want to be feeling badly about their life. Finally, there is the group for whom the economic decisions really matter.
We’ll take groups in order. Many people who struggle in the 2016 economy will always struggle. They clean our houses, pick our fruit and vegetables, serve us at fast food restaurants and convenience stores, etc. The Great Recession did not help them, but it mattered less to them than anyone wants to admit.
My second group are the well-fixed Obama-haters. They are upper-middle class Americans, paying the freight and thinking the 1% and .1%-ers are their peers, because maybe they belong to the same country club, or serve on some committee with them. This crew of often influential people have been happy to keep their children on their employer-provided insurance until age 26, enjoy the growth in their 401(K) / 403(B) accounts—yes, plenty work for the government and nonprofits—while they bitch about Obama, sailing along, merrily.
I’m a business attorney, so I know more than I ought too, often. Without mentioning names, I’m here to attest to the fact that there is an inverse relationship between a person’s willingness to attribute success to his own efforts, and his own efforts. (Yes, it’s more often than not a male thing, which begs all sorts of questions we won’t address here.) Not always, but often enough to feel comfortable making the point here.
The third groups elicits my sympathy. They know from the the last stages of Industrial Revolution. Auto and steel jobs—and the like—provided pay sufficient to pay for cars, motor homes, boats, etc. Maybe a lake house. The good life, for sure! And then it was gone. Donald Trump won’t bring it back, blah, blah, blah, and immigrants didn’t steal it from these people. Capitalism moves at its own pace—it’s a fast pace, and one that accelerates always—and it leaves human beings in its wake. Capitalism also has no conscience!
So who’s angry, and not going to take it anymore? Some Upper-Middle Class folks who believe they are America, that the national nightmare which began on November 4, 2008 will end soon, and that regular order will begin again, soon. (They’re wrong, and it’s really, really hard not to smile about their upset!) And the class of people who have really been left behind, not because they were always at the bottom of the ladder, but because they weren’t.
Donald Trump is, separate and apart from everything I have written, a false Prophet. In this Passover season he is Aaron, selling a shiny Golden Calf. It’s a crying shame that he’s selling this load of crap and people are buying it. Alas, it is what it is, and it’ll be what it’ll be.