The economy is the new terrorism

posted by Jeff | Thursday, July 12, 2012, 3:03 PM | comments: 0

I recently wrote about how I feel the voting public is being played with tales of "class warfare," a convenient theme for politicians who want to get elected because they position themselves as being on your side. I find the idea of rich people and corporations keeping the "common" people absurd, seeing as how they need those people to buy whatever it is that they provide. It doesn't mean they don't do greedy and immoral things, but conspiring to crush the majority is pretty silly.

In the last decade, our politicians used the threat of terrorism as a platform for everything from re-election to laws like the Patriot Act that trample all over your rights. While a lot of people look at it as a way to seize and retain power, and there's certainly some of that, I think it's more because politicians want to keep their jobs. Do it for the children, and keep them safe. This was the theme, even if the actual threat of terrorism was materially very low.

This election year, terrorism has been replaced with the economy. Again, I believe the politicians are dictating the conversation, and the voters are playing into it. I admit that this is hard for a lot of people to believe, because from where they're sitting, they believe the economy really is bad. After all, unemployment is declining at a slow, nearly stopped rate.

But is the economy really bad, or is it just politicians using fear to get elected (again)? I tend to argue that the economy isn't exactly bad, but rather it's different. It's the change, not "badness," that people can't adjust to.

For example, the value of your home isn't coming back. Sorry. It was extraordinarily overvalued in the first place. I know that sucks, but it is what it is. A lot of jobs are gone, and not coming back, but there are different jobs going unfilled, and we see stories on this constantly. State and local government work is also being hurt by a smaller tax base. Those jobs aren't coming back either, and they account for a huge part of the unemployment problem.

I also have a hard time believing that the economy is "bad" when the amusement industry is kicking ass and taking names. Cedar Fair is having another great year. The house across the street sold in a month for what mine was listed for two years, same model, on a smaller lot and with no improvements. Restaurants and movie theaters are packed. Gas is $3.22 here in town (remember, the politicians promised $4 this summer).

Let me be clear... I'm not saying the economy is awesome. I'm not saying that everything is groovy. But just because it's not good, doesn't mean it's bad. The noise on TV and the Internet is, "Economy! Unemployment! Republicans! Democrats! Class war! Corporations! 1%!" And you, dear American public, are getting sucked into that noise and adding to it.

When you scrape all of that crap away, and stop being scared of everything you hear, what's left is a different economy with unprecedented opportunity. The conversation shouldn't be about how fearful you should be, and all the divisive bullshit that pits you against someone else. It should be about what we do to adapt to this different economy.

Regardless of the reality, no president can change it going forward, and previous presidents didn't get us here (with the possible exception of the Bush's unnecessary war on Iraq, an expense that has caused massive debt hemorrhaging). Stop letting them and their political action committees shape the conversation. What we need from them isn't solutions, it's leadership to encourage solutions and set the conversation to a constructive dialog about adaptation to the new reality.

I don't understand why our culture always has to be scared of something. If it's not terrorism, it's the economy, or gays getting married. Stop playing into that nonsense.


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