Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"In Nothing We Trust"

In someways I am as guilty of this as the people I'm about to chastise and blame for this... which must beg the question, where did my own mistrust come from?... Nevertheless, I'll deal with my own issues later.

This is an important piece from the National Journal - In Nothing We Trust - and for most of this I blame the demagogues in conservative media. 

"Muncie is a microcosm of a nation whose motto could be, “In Nothing We Trust.” Seven in 10 Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track; eight in 10 are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed. Only 23 percent have confidence in banks, and just 19 percent have confidence in big business. Less than half the population expresses “a great deal” of confidence in the public-school system or organized religion. “We have lost our gods,” says Laura Hansen, an assistant professor of sociology at Western New England University in Springfield, Mass. “We lost [faith] in the media: Remember Walter Cronkite? We lost it in our culture: You can’t point to a movie star who might inspire us, because we know too much about them. We lost it in politics, because we know too much about politicians’ lives. We’ve lost it—that basic sense of trust and confidence—in everything.”"
When you are drilled by the conservative pundits on a daily basis that our President is an evil socialist/ communist, Muslim intent on destroying everything you were raised to believe was good... how the hell can we possibly be shocked when the people don't trust the President?  And, as Reagan famously preached, you've been drilled since childhood that "Government is the problem, not the solution!"  how can you possibly believe in it?  But, on a more substantive level, I would suggest the following is  the real key to our malaise, and may address my own schizophrenia on the issue:

 Whitmire is a story of Muncie, and Muncie is the story of America. In this place—dubbed “Middletown” by early 20th-century sociologists—people have lost faith in their institutions. Government, politics, corporations, the media, organized religion, organized labor, banks, businesses, and other mainstays of a healthy society are failing. It’s not just that the institutions are corrupt or broken; those clich├ęs oversimplify an existential problem: With few notable exceptions, the nation’s onetime social pillars are ill-equipped for the 21st century. Most critically, they are failing to adapt quickly enough for a population buffeted by wrenching economic, technological, and demographic change.
 As I've argued before we're in the middle of a fundamental change in our economy - globalization, demographics, and technology are completely changing the way we live, work, and learn.  And, as the piece suggest, neither we nor our institutions are keeping up with the pace of change.  The fundamental contract that suggested if you worked hard, kept your nose clean, went to school and studied hard then you could be assured of at least some minimum standard of living is broken.  Companies no longer have to hire people to make record profits, this last recession has proven that... Rapidly accelerating technology and lean manufacturing mean they can produce stuff without having to deal with employee's issues.  The great question going forward is how the hell will those displaced prove in the future they are worthy of at least a minimum standard of living?

This election will be won or lost by candidates and parties that will suggest they can fix this moving forward... but, I hope they both realize they can't.  It's going to take bolder initiatives than they're throwing out on the table, or could possibly get momentum at this point (just look at the pitiful education "reform" agenda's as an example)... and sadly, it appears the situation is going to have to get much worse before it get's better... the question we'll end up betting on is whether it will be too late.

No comments: