Thanksgiving Day will never have the same meaning again.
Last week, across the United States, more than three million people joined in popular protests not unlike the revolutions seen four years ago in North Africa and the Middle East.
Peaceful at first, these protests have turned increasingly bitter and violent. The stark fact is that almost 200 protesters have died in clashes with police and state troopers, as looting erupted.
While the US government blames “extreme elements dedicated to destroying national stability,” the root cause appears to be far more basic.
This time the target is “the top 1% of Americans who control the lives of the other 99%,” conveniently bracketing the US with other “oppressive regimes” around the world.
It is a fact that the top 1% of Americans control more than 40% of the nation’s wealth, up from one-third in 1985. While their incomes have increased by 14% since then, everyone else, including the middle-class, has experienced a real decline. Any growth seems to have flowed straight to the top.
“The top 1% have the best houses, education, doctors and the best lifestyles. All I have is a celebrity magazine,” said one LA protester.
While other truant countries have made strides toward greater equality the same cannot be said for the US, and next weekend the “Two-Million-Man March” is expected to hit Washington. Unsurprisingly, this march is being primarily organized via Facebook.
All of the current tension may be a direct result of a depressed economy combined with a continued belief in the power of unbridled capitalism.
It’s never been more true that free markets increase the wealth gap – as soon as you fail you add to the bottom of the pyramid, while, if you succeed, you boost the performance at the top – both extremes increasing the wealth gap.
What’s fired up the masses is how the “top 1%” seem to be the only ones not feeling the pinch of the current economic stalemate.
The President continues to stress that all Americans’ fates are bound up together and that we cannot continue to propagate the us versus them dichotomy. In a sense he must wish that he had lost the last election.
Voters are disillusioned: “Democracy is not enough – it’s the vote that got us into this mess! Down with fat-cats!”
With the country stumbling toward revolution it is still unclear what role the military will play.
ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be
This scenario was inspired by a powerful article by Joseph Stiglitz in the May 2011 issue of Vanity Fair – read it!
It really is the most powerful lesson the “1%” can learn. You cannot be part of the problem and a part of the solution – something has to give.