Four graphs

People are marching everywhere in the world, opposing the result of a democratic election.

As everyone, I wonder how we got to that point. However, I also believe that we, liberals, have some responsibility in the mess.

Because we may claim our values & virtue as much as we’d like, the naked truth is that the political organisation has failed the general public in major ways.

Here are four graphs to consider.

1/ Median income has stagnated in real terms over the past twenty years

Please note that the richest’s income also stagnated BUT it massively increased before doing so, unlike the median income.


2. Inflation was WAY above average for the goods representing a very significant & growing share of the median household income

In other words : median income households saw their purchasing power diminish. A lot.


3. Globalisation and the gains from trade could have helped median income households recoup some of the lost purchasing power. It did NOT happen.

Globalisation created a lot of wealth overall but nothing was done in order to mitigate the effects of differential inflation and the loss of purchasing power of the poorest, in the US.


4. The political system does NOT permit expression of average preferences via legislation

Gilens has shown that legislation passed heavily depends on the preferences of the richest and barely on the preferences of the average voter. This is to be added to the circumstantial evidence of Hillary Clinton not picking Bernie Sanders nor Elisabeth Warren as VP, de facto ignoring preferences of a large part of her constituency.


Cliquer pour accéder à PU%20Comparative%20Conf%20May%202007%20Gilens.pdf

5. A story

Average americans’ income started stagnating in the eighties. People reacted by going into debt in order to maintain their standard of living (or expectations as to what it should be) in the face of high inflation for the things they actually buy the most. This cycle stopped in 2008 with the financial crisis.

People then turned to renewed political activism. Legislative production remained firmly stacked against the interests of the average population, hence such activism took unorthodox forms. In the cities this gave birth to the Occupy Movement, elsewhere it morphed into the Tea Party, and Tea Party like anti-intellectualism movements.

In the last election cycle, the discontents split between Trump and Sanders. Clinton maneuvered so that Sanders, and Sanders’ ideas, did not enter the final democratic platform. Sanders’ voters voted with their feet in some key states, which Clinton lost.

So yes, let’s protest the bully. It makes us feel good but it does not change the facts.

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