Monday, 22 September 2014

New York Times article on a crisis of faith in the global elite; Some comments

A few days ago I had come across quite a thought-provoking article about a crisis of faith in the global elite in the New York Times. Today I saw an article on the same topic by the same author from the New York Times News service reprinted in The Hindu: In Scotland, Sweden and beyond, a crisis of faith in the global elite, http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-international/in-scotland-sweden-and-beyond-a-crisis-of-faith-in-the-global-elite/article6433079.ece.

Some notes and comments:

The article gives some recent developments/data related to Scotland, Sweden and the USA, and states that the commonality in them is that, "They lay bare a crisis of faith in the global elite."

[Ravi: I tend to agree that there is some kind of crisis of faith in the global elite today. However, higher degrees of transparency, perhaps aided greatly by the Internet, has made more people aware of the goings-on in top government and, to some extent, top industry circles. That, in turn, is forcing the global elite to become more accountable and more responsible. I mean, a decade ago it was far easier for top chaps to keep key information related to some crisis under wraps. Today that is not so easy. It really seems to be a new age of transparency where any educated person can easily become a whistle-blower by publishing stuff on the Internet and letting the media guys know about it. So maybe, this crisis of faith in the global elite is a temporary one which forces the global elite to become transparent & accountable which would win them back the faith of the people.]

The article mentions an implicit agreement in modern democracies that lavish lifestyles of the wealthy get tolerated by the masses so long as the masses too have improved standards of living. Now as the masses (in the West) see that their lifestyles are not improving but that the wealthy continue to lead lavish lifestyles, the masses are getting frustrated with the establishment and expressing it in their votes.

[Ravi: I think that's very well written. If everybody, or almost everybody is having a material wealth wise good time relative to their recent pasts, then nobody complains too much about the lifestyle of the super-rich. But when a large section of the populace is facing materially hard times, they start openly complaining about these lavish lifestyles of the super-rich. The democratic system allows these large sections of the populace to vote in political leaders who understand their issues and have a plan to address them (usually through higher taxes on the super-rich, sops for the middle classes and more social welfare programmes for the poor). I think that is a great safety-valve mechanism of democracy.]

...

The article mentions the impact of the global financial crisis (2007-08) and the deep recession that followed on USA and Western Europe. The article mentions in conclusion that political power is a responsibility and not a right and that the elected leaders must deliver the goods.

[Ravi: The article seems to have a decent, though short, analysis of the major changes that we are seeing in the Western world in the past few years. And I very much agree with the concluding sentences - no matter how entrenched the govt. institutions may seem, the elected political leaders have to deliver the goods using these institutions. If not the leaders will have to change the institutions. Once again, the great thing about democracy is that if one set of leaders are reluctant or unable to make the necessary sweeping changes to satisfy the populace in general, then another set of more aggressive leaders willing to make the sweeping changes get voted in to power.]

--- end notes & comments ---

Ravi: Here's the earlier NYT article, dated 18th Sept. 2014 by the same author on the same topic, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/19/upshot/scotland-independence-vote.html

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