Blog on Travel Break Until July 1.

Time to get away for a bit more travel.

The Blog is taking a break: back on Canada Day …

Ho

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Attention Politicians: the Middle Class IS Mad as Hell and Not Taking it Anymore!

In 1976, that was just a rant by a fictional character Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch) in the movie Network: today, it’s reality, being acted out more and more by angry middle class voters in elections worldwide.

This past week, India’s Narendra Modi was expecting his BJP would comfortably win 370 seats in Parliamentary elections; it captured only 240 … forcing the super-confident Modi to humiliatingly seek a coalition with smaller parties to hang on to power.

What a shock! After all, in only nine years since 2014, Modi’s government had lowered India’s poverty rate from 29% to 11% … raising living standards for 24.8 million people.

India’s rich had also done very well.

According to the Economic Times, “India’s wealth inequality is at a six-decade high with the top 1% owning 40% of wealth …. Foreign investments led to a surge in billionaires post-1992. PM Modi’s tenure saw a widening rich-poor gap amid rapid economic growth.”

But Modi clearly didn’t do enough for the middle class.

So they took their revenge at the ballot box!

And although, much of the media still have not yet linked the dots, it’s not just India: the middle class in many of the world’s democracies, are exacting revenge!

Incumbent left-leaning governments, like Canada’s, are showing a definite swing to the right in voter polling; where governments are right-leaning, like the UK, polls are showing a definite voters’ swing to the left.

The middle class want change.

The 2023 Netherlands election saw “one of the biggest political upsets in Dutch politics since World War II:  the right-wing populist Party for Freedom (PVV), led by Geert Wilders, won 37 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives, becoming the largest party for the first time,” according to Wikipedia.

“The PVV leader won after harnessing widespread frustration about migration, promising “borders closed”, the BBC reported.

“Last year net migration into the Netherlands more than doubled beyond 220,000, partly because of refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the issue has been aggravated by a shortage of some 390,000 homes.”

Sound familiar?

Qatar’s propaganda “news” network, Al Jazeera, had a different explanation:

“Anti-Islam and anti-EU rhetoric are historically the main elements in Wilders’s agenda. This proved too marginal for Dutch public opinion when he became the spokesperson for the People’s Party in 2002, and he was dismissed from the post.

“Anti-Muslim sentiment rose in the country after filmmaker Theo van Gogh was killed in 2004. His film Submission depicted Islam as a religion that encouraged violence against women. The attacker, Mohammed Bouyeri, was a second-generation Dutch Moroccan. The Guardian newspaper called the incident “the murder that shattered Holland’s liberal dream”.

But it was more than that one incident: for years, many Dutch had felt too large numbers of Islamic immigrants, instead of fitting in, were demanding Netherlanders adapt to them, accept Muslim women wearing hijabs or even niqabs, there were several incidents of Muslims intimidating or beating up gays and, according to one report, Muslims were responsible for 70% of the anti-Semitic incidents in Holland.

The historically, very liberal and tolerant Dutch clearly had enough … and the election of Wilders was testament to that! (Having been to Holland five times, I personally find it hard to see most Nederlanders as right wingers.)

Holland’s fed up middle class majority were fed up, wanted change … and voted for it.

Similarly in Poland in October 2023, the right wing ruling Law and Justice Party was tossed out … change.

And in South Africa, just weeks ago, the ANC that had ruled for 30 years, suffered major losses. forcing it to seek coalition partners to stay in power.

The “dissatisfaction” factor with whoever is in power has become a worldwide theme among voters.

In Italy, far right populist Giorgia Meloni rode to victory in late 2022, forming a coalition the BBC described as “the most right wing government since World War II”, defeating her centre-left opponent.

“Earlier this year she outlined her priorities in a raucous speech to Spain’s far-right Vox party: “Yes to the natural family, no to the LGBT lobby, yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology… no to Islamist violence, yes to secure borders, no to mass migration… no to big international finance… no to the bureaucrats of Brussels!”, the BBC said.

Enough people had become mad as hell to get Meloni elected.

In Germany, France, US …like Canada … polls have also shown growing dissatisfaction with incumbent governments.

Why? Because the middle class feels left out.

Many voters feel their governments have focused too much on programs/services catering to their political bases, their financial backers, special interest groups, immigrants, refugees, and the loudest-shouting, disruptive agitators/activists.

At the same time, the rich have still been getting richer and richer … but the middle class, most of the world’s work force, feel they are getting nowhere, or worse, losing ground. (Read about it here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2024/05/14/why-the-rich-get-richer-and-the-poor-get-poorer/.)

So, despite all the improvements in productivity, automation and technology … people in our democratic, highly developed society are working harder, but ending up with less!

In fact, by today’s standards, the average middle class family in the 1950s and 1960s seem to have had comparatively little: usually only one TV at home (likely black and white), one family car, one phone (land-based), no Internet, less free time, travelled only rarely, ate out much less frequently and even had to line up to withdraw money from their bank account (10 a,m, to 3 pm. Monday to Friday … and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m Friday, closed Saturday or Sunday).

BUT middle class families back then could afford to buy a home … even without both parents working! Singles could rent an apartment, without sharing with two or three others! Own a car too! And go to university without racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt!

And, my favorite, put $1 worth of gas in your father’s car and drive around all evening!

Today’s middle class … and tomorrow’s too (Millennials, Gen X and Gen Z) … feel they are being screwed by governments, lied to by politicians and shaken down by corporations … all of which see the middle class as only a resource to be milked, mined, drained any way they can to fill their own pockets, reward their base and mostly serve only a small number of preferred groups.

Taxes, rents, mortgages, groceries, gasoline, transit , Hydro charges go up, up, up … while service levels go down, down, down … and overruns mount: millions, billions … it doesn’t matter: it’s only taxpayers’ money!

No wonder the middle class, worldwide, is mad as hell … and so many feel the only thing they can legally do about it is throw the bums out … whenever they get a chance to vote.

Harv Oberfeld

(Follow @harveyoberfeld on “X” for FREE First Alerts of all new posts on this Blog.)

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