December 27, 2008

LESSONS FROM THE ICELANDIC COLLAPSE:

“As people have their expectations changed radically, you can have protests come out of nowhere,” even in developed countries, Bremmer said. . . .

The protests may escalate as bills come due and severance pay runs out for those who lost jobs at the three biggest lenders, including Landsbanki, the second-largest, says Stefan Palsson, a historian. He once led the Campaign Against Militarism, opposing NATO bases in the 1960s.

He said he’s surprised ordinary people are backing activists once considered “hooligans.” There was public outrage three years ago when environmentalists poured yogurt over aluminum representatives to protest a new plant.

“Now you have protesters kicking down doors at police stations, and respectable elderly people saying ‘Well, they’re young and full of enthusiasm, and anyway, they’re right!’” he said.

You can bet that the A.N.S.W.E.R. crowd would love to see this here. Will free-market backers know how to respond?

UPDATE: Reader Donald Gately writes:

You say that A.N.S.W.E.R. would love to see Icelandic-type protests here. But what if folks under 30 or 40 or 50 started staging large public protests about the Ponzi-scheme that is Social Security? What if taxpayers started staging massive protests about public pensions that let government employees (many of whom don’t have to participate in Social Security) retire at 50 with 90% pay – even while common taxpayers have to ratchet back their own retirement dates? What if financial and real-estate workers started staging protests about their jobs disappearing while the Democrats in congress do everything in their power to preserve cushy UAW deals? What if parents in neighborhoods with failing schools started actively protesting the stranglehold that the teachers unions have over their childrens’ education?

Those types of protests would likely un-nerve the left, and might actually lead to Change that the rest of us can believe in.

It could happen.