Behind the anger of Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party


CLARKONOMICS: There’s a lot of anger right now in the country from every perspective. I want to take a few moments to talk about the Occupy Wall Street movement by looking back at the early days of the Tea Party.

When the Tea Party emerged a few years ago, it started as a groundswell based on frustration and anger. Some believed it would just flame out because it was a leaderless, angry kind of impulse. But over time, the Tea Party has shown strength and longevity and become a movement in and of itself, with people who feel strongly that America is on the wrong track.

More recently, we have the Occupy Wall Street crowd. It’s unclear right now what that movement will ultimately represent. But the thing is, what joins both groups — despite their different perspectives and maybe very different reasons — is that they both feel the deck is stacked unfairly in America. They both feel that those in privileged positions have an unfair advantage and are not subject to the same rules as the rest of us.

At the same time, a new report from the Census Bureau shows something that’s really kind of shocking: The average American has had a dramatic decline in living standards because of a total drop in income over the last two years that’s right at 10% on average. In fact, income for the average family has dropped twice as much in the last two years than it did during the preceding two years.

As you know, I have never stopped calling this “the Great Recession.” My belief is that the exceedingly high unemployment can be nothing but a recipe for a lot of unhappiness.

Now, I don’t pay attention to headline unemployment numbers. The unemployment rate that I track, along with economists, is called U6.

U6 includes those people who are involuntarily working part-time; those working jobs for much less than in the past; and those that are just flat-out unemployed. It’s been hovering around 16% or 17% this whole time.

So if you are frustrated, you’re not alone. We as a country have a lot to do to get healthy again. As far as the recipe to get healthy, I have opinions and theories like anyone else about what will make that happen. But there are no magic answers. In this case, time will have to be the ultimate healer.

(What politician could ever get elected saying that? They couldn’t!)

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