Civil Unrest Is The New Normal Out There

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This is getting ridiculous. Every few days another country blows up, as their citizens take to the streets with little warning and no apparent interest in a quick settlement. Here’s the first part of the “War…Civil Unrest” section of today’s links list. As you can see the peasants have grabbed their pitchforks and besieged their betters on four continents over a wide range of issues, which implies that the ostensible cause in each case is just an excuse. links list civil unrest

The real problem is the sense that an unresponsive elite are sucking up all the available wealth, leaving the vast majority with (at best) zero upward mobility and at worst a return to the servitude their parents only recently escaped. To test the truth of this, watch what happens when a chastened government caves on the initial issue — and instead of heading back home the protesters ramp it up.

Who even remembers what pulled France’s Yellow Vests into the streets? The Macron government has spent months apologizing and offering big new spending programs aimed at the protesters’ stated concerns. Yet today’s headline is about water cannons and flipped cars. Hong Kong repealed the law that ignited its riots back in June, yet today the story is protesters shooting police with arrows (!) and Chinese soldiers deploying to help “clean up the streets.” Uh huh.

Why is this happening now? Because artificially easy money enriches the people who own the stocks, bonds and real estate that rise in value when interest rates go down. This expands the already painfully wide gap between rich and poor and turns the already high level of background resentment into a powder keg. Then it’s just a matter of a provocation. And there’s always another provocation coming.

Looked at this way, the current wave of unrest is not easily fixed because the immediate remedy is even more easy money. In other words, reinstate the gas price subsidy and borrow whatever is necessary to cover the cost. Or increase welfare spending to make life slightly easier for protesters, at the cost of higher deficits. Then cut interest rates to finance all the new debt.

The result? Even more new money flowing into the elite via rising financial asset prices. Which further widens the gap between rich and poor.

Not a single government is responding to protests with “Ok, we’ll take a bunch of real wealth from the oligarchs and give it to the protesters.” That solution obviously won’t fly with the various versions of deep state/military industrial complex that are in charge out there. Easy money, in contrast, 1) is technically doable, 2) appears at first glance to help the 99%, and 3) actually further enriches the 1%. So no one objects, the problem gets worse, and the next round of unrest is even bigger.

This may not be immediately apparent, but most people will get it eventually, by which time a peaceful solution will be far out of reach. Civil unrest is our new normal.



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