Thursday, August 12, 2010

Populism is Hot.

A couple of recent news stories have added fuel to the populist fire that has ignited over the past couple of years.  One, that is of particular interest for this blogger is the breaking story of Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who on Monday essentially quit his job when he told off a passenger, grabbed a couple of beers and then slid out of the plane on an emergency shoot feet first.  Only in an employer market this bad can a guy that has been arraigned on felony charges of reckless endangerment and criminal mischief become a champion of the common person.  The poor behavior of large employers and arrogant corporations seem to have established a bottled up anger in the US workforce.  Large Facebook groups and myspace networks have emerged in support of this new poster boy for "Take This Job and Shove it".  This event should serve as a clear warning that retention is going to be brutal tough once the labor market corrects and workers return to the drivers seat.

Next is former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the trial for his alleged corruption.  Everyone that watched the news of the governor being dismissed from his seat because of charges that ranged from attempting to trade an appointment to Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat to trying to shake down a construction company executive, knows that this was an open and shut case.  However, jurors have spent the last 11 days deliberating and looks like it is complex enough that maybe the governments case isn't a slam dunk after all.  It is difficult to say how the nation would react to an acquittal.  If this is a case about using gubernatorial decisions for personal gain, what governor in what state isn't trading their influence and power for campaign finance contributions and invitations to fancy events?  A case could be brought against each and every elected official in the US.  Until real campaign finance reform is passed and enacted into law, every elected official in the US is compromised and in the back pocket of special interest.  When money, not issues, determine election outcomes, the system can't be trusted.  It is possible that Rod Blagojevich, like every other politician, was just doing his job and the differences are just semantics.

This is day 98 for the oil spill and if populism is a movement where people ban together in opposing large business and financial interests, it is safe to say that target number one is BP.  The damage assessments are evolving and BP has increased the money set aside for spill-related costs.  Still, it is the worst environmental disaster on record and it is a tragedy that is the result of negligence on the part of BP and MSS regulators that did everything but regulate.  Vast right and left agreement can be found in disgust for BP.

Last, the jobs report on Friday was less than good news. Optimism, an American tradition, is fading away as 14.6 million remain unemployed for longer periods than expected.  There is an endless supply of bearish economists and each are debating if the government needs debt discipline or increased stimulus. It is time to see hopeful voices to mix in and contrast with the growing pessimism.  The one truth in all this blazing hot news is that people are fed up and they want out of the kitchen.  They want to grab a few brews and slide down the shoot!