Why was this unrest we see today not manifest during the Bush administration? The auto companies were run by private entities out of Detroit, the financial institutions were run by private entities out of New York, and people’s individual wealth was found in their homes and savings plans. Today – in a few short months – the auto industry and the banks are given their marching orders by czars in Washington; individuals have seen their personal financial security blankets shredded. And now they see Washington reaching to control how and where they can get their health care. In short, they see the wealth and power in this country being sucked via a gigantic power grab into the hands of a small, insular elite in Washington run by a man in whom they have no confidence that he is up to the task of running their lives in the most intimate way.
A study of civil wars by two Oxford economists, Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler suggested that really intractable arguments are rooted in a competition for resources. The other talk — about ‘grievances’, ‘history’, ’slights’, etc — was less important than the brass tacks. In other words, in most cases conflicts were over power and resources. ...
This raises the possibility that, despite Nancy Pelosi’s fears, the real cause of increasing animosity isn’t heightened rhetoric: on the contrary, the heightened rhetoric may itself be the result an intensified competition for power. It’s a symptom and not the cause. My guess is that the effect of concentrating wealth and power in government hands has created a prize which is distorting civil relations, like some singularity which is warping the space around it and pulling everything into its maw. When the pot of gold is indivisibly concentrated in one place, a winner-take-all game ensues, or as Collier and Hoeffler put it, “a simple rational choice model of greed-rebellion” is enforced. The trash-talk follows.
If this power grab by Washington succeeds, America will begin to resemble those third world countries where the wealth and power are concentrated in the capital city, a place where the peasants trek for a better life in the ghettos surrounding the homes and palaces of the rich, powerful and well connected. In fact, this is already the case as documented in The strange case of the public sector wage premium.
As more power is concentrated in Washington, this trend will accelerate. The people outside of Washington see it and don’t like it, those inside the Beltway like it and will fight for it. The fight for concentrated power is on.
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