Economist Leader on Occupy Wall Street–Rage against the machine

The protesters have different aims in different countries. Higher taxes for the rich and a loathing of financiers is the closest thing to a common denominator, though in America polls show that popular rage against government eclipses that against Wall Street.

Yet even if the protests are small and muddled, it is dangerous to dismiss the broader rage that exists across the West. There are legitimate deep-seated grievances. Young people””and not just those on the streets””are likely to face higher taxes, less generous benefits and longer working lives than their parents. More immediately, houses are expensive, credit hard to get and jobs scarce””not just in old manufacturing industries but in the ritzier services that attract increasingly debt-laden graduates. In America 17.1% of those below 25 are out of work. Across the European Union, youth unemployment averages 20.9%. In Spain it is a staggering 46.2%. Only in Germany, the Netherlands and Austria is the rate in single digits.

It is not just the young who feel squeezed. The middle-aged face falling real wages and diminished pension rights….

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, Psychology, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, Young Adults

7 comments on “Economist Leader on Occupy Wall Street–Rage against the machine

  1. David Fischler says:

    [blockquote]Young people—and not just those on the streets—are likely to face higher taxes, less generous benefits and longer working lives than their parents.[/blockquote]

    And for that, I’m sorry to say, they have no one to blame but their parents, who took advantage of the wealth built up by the World War II generation to allocate themselves benefits unheard of by any previous generation. In the process, they stuck their children (and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, etc.) with the bill. I hope baby boomers (of which I am one) are happy with the burden they’ve saddled on their descendants.

  2. Dan Crawford says:

    It seems to me that many of the bright minds who got us into our present mess were born in the ’70s and ’80s and while it is certainly PC to blame everything on the baby-boomers. one or two other generations can claim a good share of the blame.

  3. J. Champlin says:

    In line with #2, the fundamental changes that escalated Social Security benefits were enacted in the early 1970s — at the time the boomers ranged in age from roughly 24/26 to 14/16. If anything, charge that one to the “silent generation” — who, along with the much vaunted WWII generation, were the main beneficiaries. The escalating cost of medical care is a more difficult issue, although it’s hard to see how that one lands on the doorstep of any single generation. BTW, it’s interesting to note how little indignation is expressed on T19 for the unfunded prescription drug benefit of the Bush years relative to the outrage at “Obamacare”. Just sayin’ . . .

  4. Teatime2 says:

    #3 — Maybe because people realize that without that prescription benefit, their loved ones would be dead. When it comes to things like cardiology in particular, prescriptions are a life-saving bargain that oftentimes take the place of expensive surgeries, procedures, and care after a heart attack (which they can often prevent in the first place). But the prescriptions can’t work if average people can’t afford to buy them.
    Please God may this not turn into a survival of the (financially) fittest debate, sigh.

  5. J. Champlin says:

    #4 — My point was not the benefit; it’s that it was unfunded — usually anathema in this part of the woods. Please God and AMEN to your last sentence.

  6. Clueless says:

    The reason prescriptions are so expensive is because of government subsidies, government regulation and litigation. Take away the subsidies, take away the regulation and the legal jackpots, and prescriptions fall.

    There is no reason to enslave younger generations in order to provide inexpensive medical care. What needs to happen is that government needs to get out of both medicine, pharmaceuticals, there needs to be a “loser pays” civil tort system, and government needs to stop certifying physicians, nurses pharmacists and the like. That would result in a GIGANTIC drop in costs. However it would require the boomers giving up the “I want it now and I want it perfect and I want somebody else to pay for it” mentality. Gen X and Y are tapped out thanks to our selfishness.

  7. J. Champlin says:

    I’ll go toe to toe with anyone on this blog in my low opinion of sixties counter-culture and everything derived from it. But the anti-boomer rhetoric on this thread is simply out of place. AARP is a creation of the WWII generation — you know, “the greatest generation ever”. The beneficiaries of the escalation of Social Security and Medicare benefits [b]were[/b] the WWII generation and the Silent. My father (WWII) told me that he would receive every penny he put into Social Security plus a reasonable return in the first year and a half or so that he collected benefits — as it happens, he enjoyed a 15 year retirement. Those days, of course, are gone. The current beneficiaries of the system are and have been the “silent”, with the boomers only just coming on the horizon. When AARP runs ads announcing a take-no-prisoners stance on deficit negotiation, it’s speaking on behalf of the “silent”. As a boomer with ten years to go, I fully expect that my future benefits will be restructured and reduced.