Please read my election note at the end of the essay.
There are many sources of rage: injustice, the destruction of truth, powerlessness. But if we had to identify the one key source of non-elite rage that cuts across all age, ethnicity, gender and regional boundaries, it is this: The Ruling Elite is protected from the destructive consequences of its predatory dominance.
We see this reality across the entire political, social and economic landscape.
If I had to pick one chart that illustrates the widening divide between the Ruling Elite and the non-elites, it is this chart of wages as a share of the nation's output (GDP): 46 years of relentless decline, interrupted by gushing fountains of credit and asset bubbles that enriched the few while leaving the economic landscape of the many in ruins.
The Ruling Elite once had an obligation to uphold the social contract as a responsibility that came with their vast privilege, power and wealth (i.e. noblesse oblige).
America's Ruling Elite has transmogrified into an incestuous self-serving few unapologetically plundering the many. In their hubris-soaked arrogance, their right to rule is unquestioningly based on their moral and intellectual superiority to "the little people" they loot with abandon.
Rather than feel a responsibility to the nation, America's Elite views the status quo as a free pass to self-aggrandizement.
Much has changed in America in the past 46 years. Not only have wages and salaries declined as a share of "economic growth," but the wealth that has been generated has flowed to the top of the wealth/power pyramid (see chart below).
Social mobility has also declined drastically: Restoring America’s Economic Mobility, as has trust in government and key institutions.
As Frank Buckley, the author of The Way Back: Restoring the Promise of America observed:
"In a corrupt country, trust is a rare commodity. That’s America today. Only 19 percent of Americans say they trust the government most of the time, down from 73 percent in 1958 according to the Pew Research Center."
The top .01% has seen its share of the household wealth triple from 7% to 22% in the past four decades, while the share of the nation's wealth owned by the bottom 90% has plummeted from 36% to 23%.
As I described in America's Ruling Elite Has Failed and Deserves to Be Fired and Now That the Presidential-Election Side Show Is Finally Ending...., the economy is rapidly undergoing structural changes that tend to reward the top 5% class of technocrats and managers and the top .1% with millions in mobile capital, while leaving the bottom 95% in the dust.
Rather than address this rising inequality directly and honestly, the Ruling Elite has parroted propaganda and policies that protect their gains while obfuscating the reality that most American households have been losing ground for decades, a decline that has been masked by replacing real income with rising debt.
The ceaseless parroting of the Ruling Elite and the Mainstream Media that prosperity has been rising for everyone is nothing less than the destruction of truth. This propaganda has one purpose: to mask the inequality and injustice built into the American status quo.
The rapid concentration of wealth has also concentrated political power in the hands of a few who seamlessly combine public and private modes of power.
This wealth and power protects the Ruling Elite from the perverse consequences of their dominance. Their precious offspring rarely serve at the point of the American military's spear, they never lose their jobs or income when corporations shift production (and R&D, etc.) overseas, and they are never replaced with illegal immigrants paid under the table.
Rather, the Ruling Elite is pleased to pay immigrants a pittance to care for their children, clean their luxe homes, walk their dogs, etc.
This is why we're enraged: we bear the consequences of the Ruling Elite's dominance. The system is rigged to benefit the few, who use their wealth and power to protect themselves from the destructive consequences of their self-serving dominance.
This rage is as yet inchoate, sensed but not yet understood as the inevitable result of a broken system and a predatory Elite that exploits the system to maximize their private gain by any means available.
ELECTION NOTE: As I write this Tuesday evening, it appears Donald Trump may win the presidency. For those who cannot understand how anyone could possibly vote for Trump, please read the above essay again and ponder what people were voting against by voting for Trump.
They may well have been voting against the corrupt, self-serving status quo rather than voting for the individual Donald Trump.
There are very few opportunities for powerless non-elites to register their disapproval of the nation's Ruling Elite and the corrupt status quo. Voting for an outsider in a national election is one such rare opportunity.
As I noted in October, The Ruling Elite Has Lost the Consent of the Governed (October 20, 2016).
If you still don't understand how Trump could win, please read the above essay as many times as is necessary for you to get it: the status quo of corrupt self-serving insiders generates injustice and inequality as its only possible output.
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