If you are over a certain age, something you will remember is that the economy used to be a central part of the daily news feed. People talked about the economy because it was always in the mass media. Of course, you had lots of news about finance, especially the stock market. This dovetailed with the stories about the federal budget and the resulting deficits. People used to talk about the federal debt because it was a number that was easy to conceptualize.
All of this has been pushed aside in favor of other topics now. Look at the front page of the New York Times on any day and the one thing you are not going to see is news about the debt or even the economy. Instead it is foreign affairs or perhaps a long story on the fight against Trumpism. The Washington Post is pretty much just a copy and paste operation, relying on press releases from government agencies. It is as if the economy and related topics no longer exist.
One reason people are not talking about the economy over lunch is the mass media has been told to drop it. The real power of corporate media is the power to ignore, which is what they have done with economics. When was the last time the New York Times did a big story on the finances of the government? There was a time when this was a stock feature. People used to know the size of the federal debt because it was a number that was made meaningful by the media.
Another reason econ-talk has moved to the fringes of the public debate is the people in charge launched a culture war against the people back in the Bush years. That is when the great shift in media focus started. Bush became Hitler and the Left reorganized itself around the great crusade against fascism. This academic psychosis started to spill into the retail politics of the Left. By fascism they mean anything and anyone that opposes the grab bag of incoherent beliefs now called the Left.
The great leaving alone of the economy was also made possible by the fact that the system seemed to be on autopilot. The mortgage meltdown of 2008 did not result in bread lines or mass unemployment. The accounting scandals from the prior decade had no impact on daily life. We have had several market crashes over the last twenty years and no traders have leaped from their office windows. Like war, the gyrations of the economy have been “made for television” events.
The truth is the economy is something people care about and it is something they can know about without the media. If you are a Dirt Person, you have been watching your food bill tick up over the last year or so. You have chatted about this with people at work and with friends at parties. Food inflation is becoming a feature of life. Now gas prices are starting to creep into the conversation. The solons in the mass media may not notice it, but everyone else sees it when they gas up.
The last time inflation was a thing, Reagan was going around the country while running for president, saying, “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man.” This sounds way over the top, but it resonated with people because at one level he was right. Crime is about social trust and the crime of inflation robs the people of their trust in the basic functioning of society. Inflation puts everything about economic life up for grabs.
Compounding things now is the fact that the core demographic responsible for there being an economy has lost all trust in the government. The inflation numbers recently posted were met with scornful laughs. Everyone knows they are under-gunning the inflation numbers, because these are people who have lied about everything for the last decade or more. The same people who wear ceremonial face gear and lie about the Covid problem are now reporting seven percent inflation. Right.
This is why inflation should be the number one topic on people’s minds as we proceed through the long dark winter Biden has inflicted on us. Even the fake numbers the government released say that something must be done. The Fed has committed to tightening the money supply starting in March. History makes clear this will result in a recession and an uptick in unemployment. Put another way, the bad news on the economy is just getting started.
How will the public respond to the first real recession in decades? How will they respond to the rambling about it by a geriatric old fool who can barely put two sentences together? How will Americans respond to the stream of managerial sociopaths that will be sent out to insult our intelligence? How will the media respond? They have been the Greek chorus for the system for so long, are they even capable of dealing with a practical issue at this point?
This long vacation from reality that our ruling class has enjoyed since the end of the Cold War is about to end. They can stick to whatever theories they remember from their grad-school seminar on diversity and equity but the reality of the human condition has not changed. The ruling class of any society is responsible for the general welfare of the people in that society. When they fail, they are held accountable. This is an immutable law of human organization that never goes away.
This is why the situation in Canada bears watching. Trudeau is a simpleton who has no business being in charge of anything. Contrary to the old chestnuts about democracy, he is not the ruler the people deserve. He reflects the competence of the ruling class that installed him in office. The people who thought this feckless pansy was right for the job are so far proving to be incapable of managing this trucker crisis. They have made Canada the first English speaking dictatorship.
The American people are far more docile and subservient than Canadians, but until a few weeks ago people assumed the Canadians were a beaten people. It turns out that there is still some life left in Canadians, which suggests there may be a flicker of life left in Americans as well. Put enough pressure on people and they will find the courage to rebel against their masters. Inflation, recession and widescale unrest is the sort of pressure Americans may need to find their spine again.
The holiday from reality is over and we are about to enter into a period in which serious topics with real meaning return to the fore. The reckless sissies and addle minded old fools who have been playing make believe for the last few decades will now have to face a real crisis. Similarly, a lethargic and prostrate people will now have to remember how to stand up for themselves again. It will not be long before the last few years of the culture war seem like a golden age of tranquility.
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