Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thank You, Wall Street. May We Have Another?

Thank You, Wall Street. May We Have Another?

Americans are angry at the financial crisis—just not at the fat cats who caused it.

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LAST JANUARY, shortly before President Obama took office, veteran Democratic pollster John Marttila conducted a series of focus groups on a range of issues in the Philadelphia and Baltimore areas. When the conversations turned to the economy, Marttila was shocked. In the middle of the financial collapse, these people—men and women of different ages, incomes, races, and political affiliations—were predictably ticked off. But, he recalls, the "dominant emotional dynamic was self-criticism. They really felt that they had failed. They had spent too much on things they didn't need." The pollster had expected rage at Wall Street and George W. Bush, but the people in the groups barely mentioned Bush. And though they were upset by the shady and incomprehensible machinations of big banks, they were not revved up for revenge. "Their intellectual criticism was directed at the financial world," Marttila says, "but their emotional criticism was directed at themselves." Bottom line: They were not reaching for the pitchforks. Links:

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