Study: People Somehow Less Jazzed About Capitalism These Days
We have now reached a point at which a very large chunk of our population never lived through the Cold War, never did duck-and-cover drills to prepare for nuclear war — but rather did them to prepare for school shooters. We're at a point in our history where people in their twenties lived through the financial crisis, the bailouts, years of Republicans trying to scare people about Obama by screaming about how he is a socialist, and then the other years of being told that things like health care and child care and education and public transportation and not drowning in student loans and poor people having enough to eat are all "socialism." People in their 30s, like me, lived through that times NAFTA.
Is it any wonder that "But that would be SOCIALISM!" does not have the teeth it once did?
According to Edelman's 2020 Trust Barometer, not only do most people feel as though the rich keep getting richer while everyone else gets screwed, they're also not all that fond of capitalism in general anymore. In fact, 56 percent of the world thinks capitalism does more harm than good.
Now, you may be saying "Oh, but sure, that's the rest of the world! The rest of the world is silly! Everyone in America still thinks capitalism is great!"
Not quite. While not a majority, 47 percent of United States respondents said that they felt that capitalism has done more harm than good. That is pretty huge, being that it is the United States, where we have "capitalism is the greatest!" drilled into our heads from birth onwards. So much effort goes into convincing us all that we are having such a great time with capitalism and free markets that we don't even want all of the nice things other countries get to have, but it's clearly not working very well anymore.
Also in the United States, only 43 percent of respondents believed they and their families would be better off in five years, a seven percent drop from a year ago.
While people everywhere are more skeptical about capitalism in general, 92 percent of respondents said they also now expect businesses and CEOs to do more about issues like diversity, income inequality, and the environment.
Well. If your government sucks, if you've got a situation where the EPA's function is now to make sure companies get to do extra polluting, for funsies, the only way you're going to get these things taken care of is by putting pressure on businesses to do it on their own. Duh.
Also pretty interesting — a larger percentage of people are worried about losing their jobs to the gig economy, a looming recession, and cheap foreign competitors than are worried about losing them to immigrants.
These are all at least some things to think about going into the election. Maybe Democrats don't need to live in total fear that if they advocate for nice things that will help people and make things less miserable then Republicans will totally smear them as scary socialists and no one will vote for them.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse