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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fairness Deficit Can Shake U.S. Society

As I write the stock markets have just had one of those schizoid late-2008 days where the indexes plunged an extra one percent in the last 15 minutes.

There is a deficit threatening America. It is a deficit of fairness, a crisis of legitimacy...namely, a loss of confidence in the inherent fairness of our economic/political/legal systems. And this deficit is a greater threat to our society than the annual government deficits and $14.3 trillion accumulated debt. This deficit can shake the foundation of a society that very much depends on our obedience to the rule of law and the many unspoken rules that still prevail.

As people realize that they are not equal in the eyes of government decisionmakers and can be taxed into oblivion -- or even prosecuted -- if they are among the "outs," the sense that hard work and obedience to the law have anything to do with one's outcome in life will diminish. Arguably, this process has begun...and from more than just the "losers" in the post-2007 economy.

Increasingly success is perceived -- among an increasing segment of the population -- as depending most on "who you know" and ominously, what secrets you know. (Some of us have known, and kept secret, these truths for a long time.)

Right now the vast majority of the country -- left and right -- is starting to understand that unless you are getting a check or subsidy from the government, you are the one writing the check. That is big progress, as it ushers in a once-in-a-generation political realignment. While political divisions before may have been geographic, racial or ethnic, and certainly economic, now the main divide may be whether one is benefiting the government, or benefiting from it.

As people vote their naked self-interest over any principles, issues or ingrained political party identification, the old divides and voting patterns may be thrown out the window.

One senses the rest of 2011 will be extremely interesting.  There promises to be much political and economic volatility.  Let's enjoy the ride. 

Eric Dixon
Eric Dixon LLC
World-Class Strategic Analysis

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