Post-election rioting and crisis: It’s not going to happen

The media is entertaining the laughable premise that there may be rioting and revolting en mass should either Trump or Hilary become president.

As I have said again and again, the media, by in large, is useless. It’s a giant time-suck that fools people into believing they are being informed, when it’s really about pushing advertising spliced between hype and sensationalism. Without advertising, the vast majority of media would have no reason to exist, as it creates no economic value on its own nor has any redeeming value to society. There’s a saying, ‘voting is bad for your soul’. So is the media.

Nowadays, anyone can create ‘news site’ or write an article for a supposedly reputable site and pass it off as being authoritative. Here is one such example: After Trump loses: An ominous American future imagined, in which the author speculates that a Clinton presidency may lead to mass rioting and economic collapse. And there are other articles that speculate the opposite, that there will be crisis and revolt should Trump win, which is equally risible. Although I want Trump to win, and America will do better under Trump than Clinton, the stakes aren’t as high as the media hype would suggest. Every four years, it’s the ‘election of the century’, a ‘new paradigm’, and ‘all or nothing’, and other premonitions that this election is more important than the 45 or so others that preceded it and the world didn’t come to an end, but this one will.

So why won’t there be rioting? Many years ago, some people were concerned that activating the newly built Large Hadron Collider would trigger a chain reaction that would turn the world into a super-dense blob of ‘strange matter’ and of course ending all life in the process. Then some scientists calculated that similar heavy-ion collisions occur naturally, such as on the moon, which obviously after billions of years hasn’t turned into a ball of goo, and thus it was reasonable to assume the collider was safe.

Likewise, the much worse conditions have existed in the past, but nothing has happened beyond sporadic outbursts such as the Watts riots in 1965 and the 1992 Los Angeles riots. if Americans were going to rebel en masse they would have done so in the late 1970’s – a period of high inflation and, overall, a much worse economy. Or during the Great Depression, which was even worse. The misery index, generally regarded as a measure of well-being and is calculated by adding the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to the annual inflation rate, is – historically speaking – low:

But that’s not a complete picture, nor is it a vindication of Obama or Clinton. Rather, thank the ingenuity of free market capitalism and America’s best and brightest whose innovations boost living standards and create jobs, as well as thank America’s reserve currency status that keeps borrowing costs and inflation low. Americans may think they have it bad and find many reasons to complain, but other countries have it much worse.

From Brookings Are Americans better off than they were a decade or two ago?

The bottom line: According to this metric, Americans enjoy a high level of economic welfare relative to most other countries, and the level of Americans’ well-being has continued to improve over the past few decades despite the severe disruptions of the last one. However, the rate of improvement has slowed noticeably in recent years, consistent with the growing sense of dissatisfaction evident in polls and politics.

Other factors play a role, and as I discuss in Explaining America’s Economic and Social Stability, America owes its stability to its strong economy, culture of consumption and innovation, large geographic size, and cultural heterogeneity.

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