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Friday, October 7, 2011

Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, and Steve Jobs

No one to my knowledge has yet done a survey of the protestors connected with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in New York City and elsewhere, but news reports of a union connection and the general focus of their objectives leads one to believe that they are more likely to come from the left side of the political spectrum.

If that is the case, we now have a situation in which a segment of Americans with a more traditionally conservative orientation -- the Tea Party -- is taking public political actions against what they perceive needs to be changed, while a segment of Americans with a more traditionally liberal orientation is taking public political actions against what they perceive needs to be changed.

The targets of these groups are different. The Tea Party supporters have focused their ire for the most part on BIG government. Tea Party supporters apparently assume that huge federal government in this country is causing major and significant problems. The Occupy Wall Street group has focused its ire for the most part on BIG business. They apparently assume that the large corporate entities symbolized by Wall Street are causing major and significant problems.

A good deal of our polling data shows that Americans dislike most things that have the word BIG in front of them. In our summer update of Americans’ confidence in institutions, we found that confidence in big business was third from the bottom on the list. What was dead last? Congress or, in other words, big government.

Many, many Americans are, at the moment, frustrated and worried, primarily about the economy. As of Wednesday, Oct. 5, we have 74% of Americans saying that the U.S. economy is getting worse, and 90% (yes, that’s right, 90%) rating the current U.S. economy as only fair or poor. In our latest update, 88% of Americans say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. -- just shy of the all-time record 91% recorded in the fall of 2008.

It’s apparent that this frustration and angst is percolating up in different ways, as it often does. Tea Party supporters displace their anger onto the government, while the Occupy Wall Street group displaces their anger onto Wall Street corporations.  No doubt some other group may crop up which displaces its anger onto still another target.

One of the entities designed to cope with the problems of the nation is our group of elected officials we send off in our name to represent us in Washington, to whom we entrust over 1 trillion dollars in individual tax money each year. Unfortunately, Americans’ confidence in that process is extremely low at the moment, which probably contributes further to the angst.

I said above that Americans have negative attitudes toward everything big. That’s not the case. Our annual update on Americans’ views of the images of business and industry sectors shows that the public actually has a very positive attitude of the computer and Internet industry -- which involves some very big companies. Indeed, the outpouring of interest in and adulation of the late Steve Jobs is emblematic of the positive attitudes Americans have about this business sector. Part of this no doubt reflects Americans’ appreciation for the perceived effectiveness and efficiency of a company like Apple. The data show that this is the antithesis of the attitude Americans have about the federal government, which on the at same image list was dead last.


Eric Eskin said...
October 7, 2011 at 9:06 PM  

The Occupy movement is the liberal "version" of the tea party. I believe the differences are even more polarized (unfortunately) as the article presents. Whereas, the Tea Party wants less regulation Occupy wants more, where the Tea Party is more focused on the individual Occupy is focused on the collective, and where the Tea Party wants less government Occupy wants a more expansive role. Further, we already see polarized stances from both parties in relation to these movements. The cynic in me believes that both groups are organized and funded through their respective party aligments. The sad think about all of this is that the country becomes only more divided and the potential for compromise diminishes. The current environment could really use level-headed politicians and a unbiased media.

Anonymous said...
October 8, 2011 at 1:25 AM  

You have oversimplified Occupy Wall Street. It is about even between left and right. Your premiss is wrong.

Anonymous said...
October 8, 2011 at 4:07 AM  

Are BIG Government and BIG Business really all that different? Many would argue that they are inextricably linked. Indeed they are.

NimrodStewart said...
October 11, 2011 at 1:44 AM  

I agree with the notion that Americans as a whole don't like BIG businesses and BIG government. I, however, do not believe that liberals or conservative persist individually in liking or disliking one more than the other. I feel that liberals and conservatives alike generally feel threatened by institutionalism- which makes sense, as it is part of human nature to fear as well as love "the system". Furthermore, I believe that "liberals" and "conservatives" are separated by imaginary ideological boundaries- all Americans have both conservative and liberal tendencies. Upbringing, schooling, and media all play a role in accentuating these tendencies typically either extreme direction rather than towards the middle. This is, unfortunately, a list of problems and observations. I for one, am at loss for words when it comes to solutions. We are flawed and will remain so. Progress is painful.

Anonymous said...
October 13, 2011 at 6:12 AM  

I see the Occupy Wall Street movement as a cry for help, not necessarily a cry for structural overhaul. Let's face it: Who has the time to camp overnight at a protest? The unemployed and the host of people employed-less-than-they-want-to-be. Will the money ever trickle down to reach us? Can we feed some American families on their Christmas bonuses? Yes we can. We could also pay some mortgages. CEO's and other business big-timers have enough money to invest/risk in the stock market (and probably get much of their income in the form of stock or dividends). That investment in business is important, but maybe not as important as being able to keep our homes and houses. Screw that-- it's not as important as keeping our sense of pride and dignity in this country. I want a job. I want to work. I want to be productive. And hell yes, I love Apple. I am down to support lots of America's corporations -- Can I have a job first?

Anonymous said...
October 26, 2011 at 11:07 PM  

Given that Herman Cain’s poll numbers derive from older GOP voters, and many people who were until recently (falsely) castigated as “lily white” (or worse) Tea Party members, how with the “Wilder Effect” or “Bradley Effect” influence actual election day ballots for the Cain book tour?

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