Respect for Parliament has declined to such a state that few can speak about it with any kind of esteem. But that’s not the worst part. Within the House itself, and now by extension to the Senate, many politicians are in danger of losing their own self-respect because they exist in a party system that is forever demonizing opponents instead of working to discover cooperative methods of bringing the most relief possible to struggling families across the country. Doing the party’s bidding in this way reduces an MP to a false caricature of who they really are. Everyone loses in that scenario.
Good and decent politicians have fallen on hard times and understand instinctively that respect for what they do is dwindling. As citizens we have watched this decline in real-time and often deride the heavy partisan blows we witness daily. It hurts us all.
With such negative consequences clear to most of us, why then are so many in the media, corporate and political establishments taking on the same practice towards the Occupy Wall Street participants specifically, and showing such general disregard for the worries of citizens generally? The pundits and corporate denizens have viewed the growing resentment by citizens towards the status quo as a kind of sideshow. They take a page straight out of present parliamentary practice and castigate good and decent individuals as if they are a horde of barbarians. We know what that does in Parliament and we reject it; why then do we permit such cheap shots towards a citizenry that grows more agitated every day.
For a couple of years before the most recent economic downturn, it was becoming clear that something was troubling citizens on a national scale. They watched, and they learned, and they grew more troubled. Yet they didn’t speak out, choosing to contain their insecurities.
Then the corporate barons blew it. Informed that society was going through an adjustment as a result of globalized forces, most citizens had maintained an air of caution. The giant bailouts of capitalist powerhouses were sold to citizens as a way of saving our prosperity and our jobs. But after a couple of years it appeared that neither took place. Instead, many in the industry saved themselves. Rescued by the taxpayer bailouts and the stimulus measures, the financial industry jumped back into the old game, recovering as though little had happened. But the people who had obediently forked over those taxes watched all this and began to feel resentment. The financial industry failed to read the tea leaves, assuming that citizens would be as blindly docile as they were in previous economic downturns.
They were wrong. Small businesses, which some say represents about 80% of the new jobs that would be created in this country, couldn’t get the financial backing required to build their enterprises. People were watching their wages dwindle and their hopes shrink, and they came to the conclusion that the game was rigged against them. Had the financial sector appeared at least humble enough to maintain they had learned their lesson, they might have gotten away with it. Instead, in their arrogance, they kicked over the lantern that has started something of a fire that could yet grow into a conflagration. The public felt duped, used, ignored, and yet when some took to the streets to say that this time was different, that they were tired of feeding off the crumbs of the fabulous wealth of the top 1%, the powers that be turned on them in ways we have all witnessed on television.
A real economy, and those who oversee it, don’t ignore such pain and insecurity among citizens. Consider what has taken place since the worst economic downturn we have faced since the Great Depression. No significant financial policy has been altered. No bill has been introduced that would seriously bring relief to the poor, the middle class, or the struggling small businesses. Instead we get the busting of unions, the deriding of citizens speaking up for themselves and their families, no political leader calling for a serious set of regulations to deal with the lessons learned or for a serious restructuring of how this country handles wealth.
We all know this. Those responsible for overseeing the protection and prosperity of citizens just want to push “reset” and get back to business as usual. Except citizens are calling for deeper action and are being deprecated in the process. We all know what happened to Parliament when that kind of negativity prevailed; consider now how similar actions will undermine our social cohesion. As our cities and townships have to rely to an ever greater extent on property taxes, which disproportionately fall on middle class taxpayers who have most of their assets in their homes, and less and less on the wealthy, whose assets are diversified in the financial sector, citizens are feeling the pain – it’s hitting where they live. Their fears are coming to pass and they are crying out for redress, for a more equitable way of dealing with wealth distribution.
The response? Derision. Well that’s just what a fake economy does – “let them eat cake.” The real economy, and the real financial and political leaders that responsibly oversee it, would respond to the cries with measures of relief because citizens matter. That’s the point we have to get to. The real economy doesn’t react but responds.