Do you remember what September 11th felt like?
That feeling of crisis, expectation…that something special was happening, something of national, global importance? Do you remember feeling the need for action or revenge?
That’s called emergency. Its a suspension of normal expectations, not on a personal level, but on a national or international level. So, like the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Gulf oil spill, the current crisis in the Ukraine, etc.
Emergency (with a capital E) is a dangerous time because it can represent a breakdown in status quo; it can represent military aggression, and it can authorize long term changes that would be unacceptable to a majority of people under normal circumstances.
Remember TARP? That was Emergency. In our fear for the economy, a lot pressure was brought to bear to bail out financial institutions and big businesses that were either making poor products or were doing illegal, shady activities. Exactly when a way of doing things should have been completely reformed, it was bailed out and reinvigorated. Too big to fail; it is one of those phrases that should alert us to corruption and cynical political maneuverings. It should alert us that a time to make a big change has come, and woe to those who patch up a system doomed to fail and crash again like ours is.
The Recession has been going on for years. During this time, corporations have been making record profits, and yet unemployment figures remain high, and the middle class continues to be defrauded of its hard-earned wealth.
We can expect the Emergency of the “Great Recession” to go indefinitely. Far from working, the trickle down economics are a blind to accumulate wealth at the top. Why would it end when it has been so profitable to corporations and the ultra wealthy? To claim that trickle down/ austrian (von hayek) / ayn rand works, you have to ignore the realization that everyone, and every class in society can and should be healthy and earning and spending money, not just those at the top. Second, you have to ignore the reality that these large corporate structures are having a bonanza and have effective control of our government: they will not allow the situation to change if they can help it. On a recent book, Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty, proves through copious evidence that wealthy always grows faster then a national economy. Thus the phrase “a rising tide lifts all boats” is total nonsense. The historical setting for this phrase is the 30 years of economic growth from the end of WWII to the mid ’70s, consistently referred to as a ‘miracle’ by historians and economists (we should pay attention when people who are trained to not use words like ‘miracle’ start using them).
The only way to keep “all boats rising” is to tax wealth. Other wise, like now, we have robber barons and the Gilded Age.
Expect Emergency to be an ongoing thing. Between the natural disasters of global warming, oil spills, and earthquakes from fracking, low level wars over resources and identity triggered by globalization, and the continuous cycle of boom and bust triggered by the financial sector, combined with the fact that the people who pull the levers and push the buttons in our society can buy their ways out of these Emergencies, means that Emergency will increasingly be apart of our daily lives.
This has been called the Age of (personal) Anxiety, the Age of (job) Insecurity; now these things are working their way into the very way our government, society and globe function. Call it the ‘Precarious Earth’.
Mind the Emergency. It’s the cover for when big things happen; a diversion.