March 28, 2022

America, Slow To Anger.

 

Over the past two years, we've been locked down, quarantined, “vaccinated,” lost jobs, and in general been told how to think, and what to do.

And Americans have just about had enough.

It's been the world's most high-profile, high-tech plague. And the result has been that our individual lives have been turned upside down.

Our leaders in Washington have exerted control over us, that we never thought possible. They seem to be moving us to the point where each waking moment can be monitored, and controlled.

The Social Scoring System we see in China seems to be coming to our shores.

And topping off this evolving dystopian vision of our future reports coming out of Europe this weekend, indicate that President Biden is beating the war drums. Anxious to have NATO troops inserted into Ukraine.

A provocation that would immediately lead to a wider, perhaps worldwide conflagration.

Not only would this lead to further death and destruction throughout much of Europe, but it would be the final straw for the American people.

Slow to anger, Americans would, I think, have reached a boiling point. That moment when they turn against this government and this President.

I've seen all this before. I was around to see the political decline, and ultimate withdrawal of Lyndon Johnson, back in the 1960s.

Today, most have forgotten that Johnson was elected in 1964 by the largest landslide in history. As he rode a wave of positive sentiment following the assassination of John F Kennedy.

But in less than 3 years, after his disastrous policies in Viet Nam, combined with his incredible deficit social spending, in a program called the Great Society. Can you say “Build Back Better?”

Caused Johnson to withdraw from the 1968 election, and ushered in a lost decade for the economy. Stagflation, that terrible combination of a lack of economic growth combined with monetary inflation, caused the nation to flounder.

Johnson epitomized government over-reach. Those times when an especially arrogant President, decides to take control of all aspects of our lives. Solve every social problem. And perhaps even mire us in war. Johnson did it all. And built a mountain of debt on top of it.

Sixty years later, we're back in the same place, again. A President who believes he can cure the Plague, Preserve the Planet, and now, perhaps go to War. It's Lyndon Johnson's redux.

Now, the American people are slow to anger. Deliberate in their course of action. It takes a lot for them to rise to their feet in protest.

But it's coming. The time is drawing near when this government will face the wrath of the average citizen.

For economists, perhaps our favorite measure of the mood of Americans is the University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Survey.

Each month, for 70 years, the U of Michigan has been asking our countrymen just how they view the current economy.

Generally, Americans are an optimistic lot and it's not unusual to see survey readings in the 100s, or even above. Over time the average reading is probably in the 80s or 90s.

In that long history, we have only seen readings in the 50s a couple of times. The first was in that dismal economy following the Johnson Presidency. And the second was during the Great Financial Crisis of 2008.

The third time this has happened was this past Friday. When once again, the survey reports that a substantial percentage of Americans are turning negative, on the economy, and on this President.

But what's so remarkable about this time, is the speed with which people have changed. Just a year ago, Biden enjoyed a consumer sentiment reading of nearly 90. At the high end of the survey's history.

But in just 12 months, roughly 30% of Americans have changed their view. They have gone from positive to negative in their outlook on the country's economy. A truly historic turnaround.

Unfortunately, Biden, like Johnson before him. seems totally blind to the reality that he has lost his political capital. He no longer has the majority in the country behind him.

Outside of his cadre in Washington, he does not have the support he would need to take on another major initiative. The status of lame-duck has come early to the Biden Presidency.

He is but one missed step away from Americans taking to the streets. And a bellicose move in Ukraine would be just such a misstep. Biden is on thin ice with the American people, whether he knows it or not.