Where is the outrage?

UPDATE: 23 Mar 2009: I am re-publishing this and an earlier post from last summer (Why No Outrage?) because of the situation at AIG. In my view, the outrage that has finally boiled over in the AIG bonus scandal has long been simmering.

This is essentially the  question that Tim Iacono asks on his site in the post “Why aren’t Americans rioting?” based on an article from the leftist site Alternet.  I have wondered the same.

Here you have the financial services sector being bailed out left and right.  Large automakers are lining up for handouts.  The steel industry has successfully inserted itself into the stimulus package by appealing to economic nationalism and “Buy America.”  Meanwhile, ordinary Americans lose their jobs, their homes, and their retirement investment.

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There is a deep sense of apathy in the United States regarding this massive economic implosion that remains stunning.

Just yesterday, a reader sent me the following list of civil unrest due to the credit crisis and Depression.  The United States is nowhere on the list (hat tip Scott).  Apparently, Americans are a civilized lot.  The Tom Daschle affair may be a watershed in terms of the ‘populist revolt’ in America.

Here are some details of protests and developments as a result of the global financial crisis:

* BRITAIN:

— A decision by France’s Total to bring Italian and Portuguese workers to build a unit at the Lindsey oil refinery has triggered a week of protests by thousands of energy workers.

— Hundreds of contractors at the refinery walked out again on Tuesday and 600 contractors at a plant owned by ConocoPhillips on the east coast also downed tools. The strikes have not disrupted energy supplies.

* BULGARIA:

— Hundreds of Bulgarians demanded economic and social reforms in the face of a global slowdown in anti-government rallies last month, calling on the Socialist-led government to act or step down.

— Earlier in January, hundreds of protesters clashed with police, smashed windows and damaged cars in Sofia when a rally against corruption and slow reforms in the face of the economic crisis turned into a riot.

* FRANCE:

— Hundreds of thousands of strikers marched in French cities on Thursday to demand pay rises and job protection. Some protesters clashed with police, but no major violence was reported.

— The one-day strike failed to paralyse the country and support from private sector workers appeared limited. Labour leaders hailed the action, which marked the first time France’s eight union federations had joined forces against the government since President Nicolas Sarkozy took office in 2007.

* GERMANY:

— Thousands of German public sector workers went on strike on Tuesday to press for more pay during the worse economic downturn in decades, in action that affected transport and schools across the country.

Public transport ground to a halt in 10 cities across Bavaria, while schools, hospitals suffered walk-outs in northern Germany, service sector union Verdi said. Local authorities and schools were also affected in the east of the country, it added.

* GREECE:

— Greek farmers put up roadblocks across the country, protesting against low prices. Most were taken down last week after the government pledged 500 million euros in aid. Blockades continued on and off at the border with Bulgaria, and on Tuesday riot police clashed for a second day with farmers from Crete.

— High youth unemployment was a main driver for rioting in Greece in December, initially sparked by the police shooting of a youth in an Athens neighbourhood. The protests forced a government reshuffle.

* ICELAND:

— Parties forming a new coalition for the crisis-hit island decided on Sunday its new prime minister will be former Social Affairs Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir.

— Prime Minister Geir Haarde resigned last week after a series of protests, some of which had turned violent. He was the first leader to fall as a direct result of the credit crunch.

— The collapse of the country’s fast-expanding banks under a weight of debt forced the country to take a $10 billion IMF-led rescue package and sparked widespread anger.

* LATVIA:

— Latvian farmers used tractors to block a main road and laid siege on Tuesday to the Agriculture Ministry to protest falling incomes, adding pressure on a government already facing a no confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday.

— Farmers have demanded extra support from the authorities to compensate for the drop in prices for their produce.

— A 10,000-strong protest in Latvia on Jan. 16 descended into a riot. Government steps to cut wages, as part of an austerity plan to win international aid, have angered people.

* LITHUANIA:

— Also on Jan. 16, police fired teargas to disperse demonstrators who pelted parliament with stones in protest at government cuts in social spending to offset an economic slowdown. Police said 80 people were detained and 20 injured.

— Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said the violence would not stop an austerity plan launched after a slide in output and revenues.

* RUSSIA:

— Thousands of opposition supporters rallied in Moscow and the far east port of Vladivostok on Saturday in a national day of protests over hardships caused by the financial crisis. On Sunday hundreds of demonstrators in Moscow called for Russia’s leaders to resign.

— Street rallies were held in almost every major city over the weekend. The pro-Kremlin United Russia party also drew thousands to rallies in support of government anti-crisis measures.

— About 100 protesters were arrested in Vladivostok last month during protests against hikes in second hand car import duties aimed at protecting jobs in the domestic car industry.

* SWITZERLAND:

— Hundreds of people rallied in Geneva and Davos on Saturday to protest against the World Economic Forum, saying the elite gathered for its annual meeting are not qualified to fix the world’s problems.

— In Geneva, where the WEF has its headquarters, police in riot gear fired teargas and water canon to disperse a crowd.

The Robert Reich link below most closely mirrors the sentiment I see developing in the United States regarding business as usual in the midst of a Depression.

Sources
Global financial crisis sparks unrest – Reuters
Why aren’t Americans rioting? – The Mess That Greenspan Made
The Whole World Is Rioting as the Economic Crisis Worsens — Why Aren’t We? – Alternet
Tom Daschle and the Populist Revolt – Robert Reich

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3 Comments
  1. Ranger Turtle says

    The Outrage of U.S. citizens is building up the pressure, to explode in the future.

    Personally, I’m outraged by our congress: it is fast and sure about bailing out banksters and GM, but really slow and (Republicans) AGAINST bailing out Main Street with a stimulus package.

  2. Fred Rounds says

    Pick your outrage: Economy, Irag, Afghanistan, Climate Change, Energy, Health Care, Unemployment, so on.

    Being outraged about problems governments can’t solve doesn’t do any good.

    Use the anger to build community. de Soto describes how the Peruvians who couldn’t find work simply squatted on available land. The numbers were so big the government couldn’t do anything about it, except to basically find ways to make the squatters legal.

    The US has nearly come to the same problem with the new homeless creating tent cities in places near the capitols of states, such as Ohio, California, and Oregon.
    The local governments were forced to respond by finding shelters. Once a person reaches destitution, that person becomes upwardly mobile through the effort to survive from day to day.

  3. kman says

    Because these said american were the ones buying homes hoping they would appreciate and make a bundle before passing on to the next sucker. They knew what they were getting into but now if you want someone to blame go ahead and blame Wall Street…look in the mirror.

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