Look what's happening out in the streets
Got a revolution, got to revolution
There is one thing I would not want to be right now: an incumbent politician.
From the president to the dog catcher, many in elective office are suffering from rapidly declining popularity. People are angry and broke. Governments are being forced to make massive cuts in programs and services. They will be forced into more layoffs, which will make even more people angry and broke.
It's not a fun time to be in government.
Next year will be a year of reckoning. We are going to see massive numbers of politicians get voted out of office. It could be that many unemployed people make a new career move -- such as running for office. If anyone has ever dreamed of being an office holder, 2010 is the year to do it. There are going to be several situations where voters elect a complete unknown, just to express their anger about the incumbent.
People want change, any kind of change, especially on the economic front. To those of us on Main Street, it looks like Washington and Wall Street are ignoring the economic pain and trying to pretend as if the crisis didn't happen or is all over with now.
Wall Street is gearing up to pay itself record bonuses. The president went to Wall Street, shaking down fat cats for campaign contributions. Instead of cracking down on Wall Street abuses, Obama wants to convene a conference and "talk about it." Yeah, that will do a lot of good. It pushes any real action down the road a few years. Maybe you could have a fundraising event while the conference is going on.
The same old story, same old song and dance. Next year could be the time when we change the tune.
President Obama was elected on change. But his economic team is just another variation of the Washington-Wall Street version of "good old boys." Dr. Lawrence Summers, Timothy Geitiner and Ben Bernanke are the same people who got us into the economic mess. They screwed up badly, but Obama put them back in charge to try again.
I've been reading Andrew Ross Sorkin's riveting new book, Too Big To Fail. It's a fascinating view of the personalities involved in the current financial crisis. One of the things that immediately strike you is how all the characters seem to be buddies from way back. They've worked together, played tennis together and spend all their time talking to each other, which is why they are clueless about what is happening on Main Street.
As someone who has opposed government bailouts since the beginning, I would like to say, "I told you so." But that doesn't get us out of the mess we are in. I suspected that the Wall Street-Washington alliance would think about each other first and the taxpayers later. That wasn't hard to see. All you have to do is look at recent history. For years, Wall Street has been paying for high priced lobbyists and funneling millions in campaign contributions to Washington. The overwhelming majority in Washington gets re-elected because they are able to outspend their opponents. It perpetuates a cycle where Wall Street and Washington only talk to and socialize with each other and think they can ignore everyone else.
Next year is when the voters are finally going to make them listen.
When you see companies who accepted bailout money wanting to dole out billions in bonuses, you see how tone deaf the people in Washington and Wall Street are. They don't get that there is real anger in the country. And it's not just because we have high unemployment and real economic pain. It's because the people are tired of being played for saps. That is why 2010 will be the year of the great upheaval.
Americans are tired of self dealing. From the largest cities to the smallest towns, any sign of an office holder feathering his own nest will be met with public retribution. Any challenger looking for an issue will find one. As Robert Penn Warren wrote in All The Kings Men, "There is always something." Anyone who voted for the Wall Street bailouts will automatically have a hard time. Wall Street and Washington think that the public has forgotten, but they have not.
They've been waiting for, but not seeing, some return on their investment.
I don't think President Obama is going to "get it" before 2010. He's big on the concept of un-elected "czars" -- a concept that scares me even more than the bailouts ever did. "Czars' aren't accountable to anyone and will be hard to get rid of. Voters want more ability to influence government, not less. They don't want some "czar" speaking for them. They want their own voices to be heard.
I voted for President Obama, just like I normally vote for the Democratic nominee. Obama is getting called out by conservatives, as one would expect. But some liberals, such as Arianna Huffington, are also taking him to task. He thinks that if he dominates the "news cycle" and bashes on Fox News, the rest of the country will let him do what he wants.
What we have here is a failure to communicate.
I'm not ready to sign up with Glenn Beck and the tea baggers of the world. But I do understand that people are tired of being ignored. Unless vast numbers of people on Wall Street and in Washington start to "get it," and get it quickly, you are going to start seeing a whole lot of new faces in Congress, state legislatures and city councils all across the country.
It may not change the unemployment rate. But it will at least change who is unemployed.
Don McNay, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, CSSC is one of the world's leading authorities in helping people deal with "Big Money" issues. McNay is an award-winning syndicated financial columnist and Huffington Post Contributor. You can read more about Don at www.donmcnay.com McNay founded McNay Settlement Group, a structured settlement and financial consulting firm, in 1983, and Kentucky Guardianship Administrators LLC in 2000. You can read more about both at www.mcnay.comMcNay has Master's Degrees from Vanderbilt and the American College and is in the Hall of Distinguished Alumni of Eastern Kentucky University. McNay has written two books. Most recent is Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You Win The Lottery. McNay is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Round Table and has four professional designations in the financial services field.