Endless Curiosity

May 17, 2010

Why do I bother?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 7:50 am

There are two interesting articles in the NY Times today. Well, there are probably quite a few, but I’m just going to talk about two of them.

Ross Douthat makes the point in The Great Consolidation that in a crisis, the powerful use the opportunity to consolidate and enhance their power.

From Washington to Athens, the economic crisis is producing consolidation rather than revolution, the entrenchment of authority rather than its diffusion, and the concentration of power in the hands of the same elite that presided over the disasters in the first place.

A good crisis is a terrible thing to waste. Of course, that will be old news to anyone who has read Naomi Klein’s wonderful book, The Shock Doctrine. If you haven’t read it, I strongly encourage you to do so.

In the other article, Going to Extreme, Paul Krugman says

When the economy plunged into crisis, many observers — myself included — expected a political shift to the left. After all, the crisis made nonsense of the right’s markets-know-best, regulation-is-always-bad dogma. In retrospect, however, this was naïve: voters tend to react with their guts, not in response to analytical arguments — and in bad times, the gut reaction of many voters is to move right. That’s the message of a recent paper by the economists Markus Brückner and Hans Peter Grüner, who find a striking correlation between economic performance and political extremism in advanced nations: in both America and Europe, periods of low economic growth tend to be associated with a rising vote for right-wing and nationalist political parties. The rise of the Tea Party, in other words, was exactly what we should have expected in the wake of the economic crisis.

To me this is fascinating. My guess is that in times of insecurity, people tend to adopt an attitude of “to hell with the people lower down the ladder than I am.” Since people tend to associate the Democrats with trying to help the poor, the homeless, and the disenfranchised, they move away from the Democrats and towards the Republicans. What they forget is that Republicans have the same attitude of “to hell with the people lower down the ladder than I am“, and to elite Republicans, these right-moving people are lower down the ladder. So people move away from the party that might care about their plight, and towards the party that doesn’t give a damn.

They forget that it was the Republican free-market ideology that caused the current economic crisis by not regulating the mortgage market or the CDO/CDS markets. They flock to Sarah Palin without realizing she cares about money and adulation, not about them.

So why do I bother voting to help the same people who don’t want to help themselves? Beats me. Perhaps because I care about the world my daughter will grow up in.

1 Comment »

  1. awwww. how nice that last sentence is. i think the world is screwed…maybe not though. that’s positive thinking haha

    Comment by Nikki — May 20, 2010 @ 1:31 am


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