What is the purpose in revisiting the theme of Straw Dogs with a remake? I can think of only one that is legitimate. And it isn’t (my apologies to widows and orphans) the tragedy of 9/11. We make far too much of that incident, driven, in my opinion, by the neo-conservatives’ media allies.
The Financial Crisis of 2008 and The Great Contraction that followed has done far more damage to the American psyche than 9/11 could possibly have done. How much poverty, unemployment, homelessness, and suicide resulted directly from 9/11? How much has resulted from deindustrialization and jobs off-shoring since the Reagan years and especially since 2008? The only reason I can see is to get us to ask ourselves how much more of the FIRE sector’s agenda of financial bullying we are willing to take before we erupt in an orgy of violence against the rentiers and their apologists.
Over the past thirty years, most of us have sacrificed our well being on the altar of other people’s Returns On Investment, (the FIRE sector’s ROI.) Our leaders in Washington, particularly the Republicans, but increasingly the Democrats, and even that pushover in the White House many people thought would change all that (I was not among them, though I voted for him,) now demand more sacrifices, not from the FIRE sector, oh no, we can’t ask them to sacrifice, that would be political suicide. No, they want the rest of us to sacrifice more, by eliminating capital gains taxes, taxes on dividends, inheritance taxes, and “broadening” the tax base to take money from the pockets of the working poor, who haven’t enough to begin with.
I guess these zombie policy makers still think we have a supply side problem, requiring supply side solutions. Instead, we have a demand side problem requiring demand side solutions. People are upside down with debt, unemployment, under-employment, losing homes and businesses, and the answer is to tax them more? And maybe pay them even less, as Governor Perry would probably do. The answer to a demand side problem is to shift the income distribution down the curve to the working stiffs, not up the curve to the rentiers; put money in the pockets of the “little people” the FIRE elites despise. Millions of unemployed people cannot be expected just to fend for themselves. Few people have the knowledge or skills required to run profitable businesses.
But we also have an innovation problem. We need a whole new industry every twenty years to drive the economy to new heights. The last new industry to create an entire ecosystem was that of the personal computer. That industry has matured since it was first introduced in the mid 1970s and assembly jobs have since been off-shored to preserve ROI. Nothing in the government’s austerity agenda will help anyone do anything that might solve the problem. It will simply make everything worse, and eventually it will take down our all powerful FIRE sector.
Straw Dogs, to me, in addition to being about appeasement, is an allegory for a nation too much abused by Wall Street, a feckless appeasement-minded President, a cynical Congress, and a toadying regulatory apparatus, all of them corrupted by the FIRE sector. It’s beyond time for those in charge to act honorably as the people’s guardians against such abuse.