You don't need me to tell you that things are getting bad in the United States. More and more families are falling behind on their bills and the smell of desperation is filling the air. Forced from their homes by foreclosures and job losses, tent cities (called Obamavilles by one smart-alleck commentator) have begun to spring up in states as far apart as Florida, Nevada, Michigan, and New Jersey. Protests against the financial industry by a group referring to itself as the 99% have also started to spread from Wall Street to other major cities in the country, including Chicago. On Tuesday evening I witnessed about 35-40 protesters marching from Chicago's Federal Reserve Bank to the campaign headquarters of President Barack Obama in the Aon Center.
Americans are seriously pissed off. Men and women who have worked hard all their lives to achieve a comfortable middle class life with a modest house, car, a few kids, and some nice electronic toys are waking up to the fact that sometimes doing the right thing doesn't do any good. Class lines that once were lightly sketched onto the fabric of the nation are now hardening into thick and rigid lines. Increasingly credit score is destiny and few are those who can boast 650 (average) let alone 700.
Where will all this frustration eventually lead? History tells us that such unrest can go in a number of directions. One is towards violent revolution of the kind that transformed France in the 18th century and Russia in the 20th. The other is to the edge of cataclysm leading to reform. This restless energy is what gave us the New Deal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It's too early yet to know which path our nation will take. One major cause for concern, however, is the large number of young men and women amongst the ranks of the disenfranchised. A visit to the site "We are the 99 Percent" <http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com/> shows a disturbingly high percentage of young college educated people among the ranks of the unemployed and underemployed.
A nation that cannot find gainful employment for its future generation is in serious trouble. Washington, D.C. has shown itself incapable of making any meaningful contributions to this problem. Bankers and large businesses, most of which are international corporations, have shown themselves largely indifferent to events on the streets. After all, if things go bad here they can simply pick up their money and go somewhere else. So what's to be done?
Beats me. But I'm keeping my eyes and ears to the streets. We live in very interesting times and they're only going to get more colorful.