Is it the unemployment situation? Is it the volatility in the markets? The weakening greenback? Perhaps the generally perceived level of incompetence amongst our political and corporate leaders? Is it a media that does not hold our public officials and corporate leaders accountable?
While I could write extensively – and I have – on each of these questions, I am firmly convinced the ever increasing levels of populist rage go much deeper than any of these questions. How deep? To the very core of this great nation. What is at the core of any individual, institution, or nation?
Honesty and integrity.
Americans are a strong people. America is a proud land. That said, I believe we have allowed a semblance of moral decay to increasingly infiltrate our very core and we are now paying the price for it. How is this growing moral decay exemplified?
I am not suggesting that those who might hold differing opinions than mine on specific questions addressing ethical and moral topics as being the root of our current problems. I would like to think I am not so narrow-minded or judgmental. I do believe, however, that the rage sweeping our country on both sides of the political aisle stems from the reality that Americans are increasingly convinced that our political representatives, government officials, financial leaders, and their selected constituents have not been honest with America.
This lack of integrity and its growing level of awareness enrages Americans. They are voicing their rage. Congress is starting to hear this rage and is redirecting the anger and frustration toward leaders in Washington, state capitols, and Wall Street. We are now seeing this reality each and every day. America knows a lack of integrity when it sees it or feels it, despite the fact that large swaths of our media (exceptions include Susan Antilla and Jonathan Weil of Bloomberg, to name a few) provide the establishment cover.
Where have we seen a lack of integrity and honesty?
1. Select government reports to the contrary, the massive failings within the financial regulatory structure with specific emphasis on FINRA and the SEC.
2. Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s confession just this week that Goldman had engaged in activities that were clearly wrong and led to the economic crisis.
3. I have no doubt that many within our nation believe the Obama administration fundamentally believes in the principle of redistributing wealth via a number of programs. This emphasis on redistribution in one direction while simultaneously bailing out financial institutions leaves a very large percentage of those in the middle and on both sides of the aisle feeling totally disenfranchised. Not only do these people feel disenfranchised, but they feel that the government is not being honest with them regarding its motivations.
Will this situation turn around quickly? No. We did not get here just in the last year. While America is enraged currently, ultimately America itself needs to be held accountable for allowing this lack of integrity and honesty to promulgate over the years.
The cauldron is boiling. Washington and Wall Street feel it. I would expect we will witness more and more statements and acts from our leaders on Wall Street and in Washington to appease the electorate and assuage the rage.
Washington and Wall Street can keep their acts and statements.
Stop lying to America. Only then might we be able to make real progress.