Another Tide of Rising Expectations


During my undergrad years, I had a wonderful history professor, who while being rather left-wing, had the ability to bring history alive.  Truth be told, fifteen years prior, we were on opposite sides of the social equation.  I was career military.  I believed in the Viet Nam War and what the government said.  The prof at that time was leading the sit-in on the college campus.

By the early eighties, my eyes were finally opened and I thoroughly enjoyed every class I was able to take with him.

And he introduced me to The Anatomy of Revolution by Crane Brinton.

My recollection is that after several generations of people having better than their parents there was a financial crisis and the populace was a lot worse off than their parents.  That is the short of it.

To put a finer point on it, I went to the wikipedia listings on the subject, here and here.

Well, lo and behold.  Is history about to repeat itself?

The genesis of our current problem is in the 1990s when Senator Gramm (R-TX) was the driving force behind the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act which had kept a wall between commercial banks and investment banks.  In place of Glass-Steagall was put the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act “allowed commercial banks, investment banks, securities firms, and insurance companies to consolidate.”

The sub-prime financial crisis of 2007 was the first act of our present descent.  We are now going through a totally unnecessary, conservative/teaparty made crisis that demands cuts in services and absolutely no increase in taxes.  That the Dems have no spine and are going along with this, speaks volumes about our future.

Two or three wars over the last ten years have drained the coffers of state.

France had a similar problem during the 1780s.  The Seven Year War and the support for the American Revolution drained the French treasury.

The so called “tide of rising expectations” of each generation doing better than the last ended in France in the 1780s.

By February 1787 “First Assembly of Notables meets against a background of state financial instability and general resistance by the nobility to the imposition of taxes and fiscal reforms.”  (Does this sound familiar?)

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Having said that, I do not advocate, nor do I think the USA will experience a revolution, notwithstanding the events in Madison, WI in February/March 2011.  I do not believe that Americans have the chutzpah that the Egyptians had in causing their government to resign just a few months ago.

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